Start With Why
This pandemic, its changes to our work, play, and relationships, and the great swath of unknown, has me thinking existentially on the reg. I am constantly folding my mind over, not just the idea of existence, but the why of existence. It's been a question in the back of my mind since the middle of last year, when the death of my boyfriend's father plucked us out of our charmed existence, straight into confusion and grief. At times, the question exhausted and overwhelmed my emotions. Other times it emptied me of feeling altogether. It
also brought more empathy into my relationships and conversations. I began to search for purpose in books, in grass, in ocean waves, and in music. I began to quietly reflect inward.
Simon Sinek's 'Start With Why' was an influential book and concept for me starting in 2018, but I quickly learned your 'why's aren't just readily grasped. They are contemplated, turned over repeatedly in your hands, dreamt about indirectly, ruminated on in quiet moments before and after storms. Last year my acting teacher instructed me to write the reason I act on the first page of my audition workbook--I was ashamed to admit I didn't have my tried and true answer ready. But putting in the work and contemplation to figure it out was monumental.
Just a few months ago, at the end of 2019, I thought I had all my why's sorted out. But the answers to why I do the things I do were often simple surface level reasoning...
"...because it's expected of me, and I don't want to let anyone down."
"...because I need money to be comfortable and to do anything of note."
"...because I've come this far, and I so badly want to achieve something."
"...because societal values", "because pressure from others...", "because fitting in..."
"...because I have to; I don't know any other way..."
These all struck me as versions of "because (someone) said so"...that thing we say when we're too exhausted to truly unpack the philosophy of why. When we're uncomfortable with a line of questioning we wish would end so we could go back to living how we know.
But other "because" statements emerged that seem to carry a deeper meaning, a closer definition of an authentic why:
"...because it makes me come alive."
"...because there is deep value in honest vulnerability."
"...because the smallest well-intentioned actions can improve the world."
"...because people love me and depend on me."
The truth is, I have blindly accepted most of the 'why's put in place for me, without a second thought, but when I really think from my heart and sound mind, I find the most beautiful, most pervasive reasons to blink through my overwhelmed or hopeless tears and lift myself through another unpredictable day. I want to help. I want to inspire because I understand how inspired I myself need to be just to get out of bed some days. I want to write a flawed, personal blog every day if just a single person will read it and feel a little bit better about this journey we're all on. I want to do the things that make me come alive, and it just so happens the world needs people who have come alive.
If you're already up in your thoughts more than usual these days, try spending some time uncovering your 'why's. Start from a non judgmental place and see what you can coax out.
You don't have to share what you discover. You can keep your personal 'why's in the back of your mind or the front. Here are some links to get you started: