It all started with a simple, straightforward question. What do you think I do? As the words passed across his lips and traveled into my ears, a wave of claustrophobia descended upon me. The dark wood paneled walls began to close in, stifling all coherent thought. Looking at the immaculately dressed man across from me, I sought a point of focus. Some anchor that would give my jumbled brain the needed stability to formulate an intelligible answer. Glancing at his large and flashy watch, I saw my life ticking away. The glint of his gold cuff links, caught my gaze and I saw affluence. Moving to his neck tie and its neatly tied Windsor knot, I saw a life of order and routine. His angulated and jutting jaw exuded confidence and an industry of hard knocks where getting to the top at all cost is rewarded. The eyes. They were my focal point. Looking into the depths of the steely greyness, I saw my future unfolding before me. Stress. Exhaustion. Always under the gun. Big pay checks. My small town values of integrity, simplicity, living frugally, being true to my word--slowly eroding away. With this comprehension, my answer to his question streamed uncontrollably out of me. For two solid minutes my mind released the burden it had been carrying for years. To this day, I cannot recall what I said. Think of those dark nights when sleep is elusive because the incessant part of your brain is engaged in a ruthless spin of what you should have said during that crucial conversation with a loved one, co-worker, or random individual who offended you. This is what poured forth unabated.
It was my senior year in college and there I was on the brink of adulthood. In less than two months, I would be thrust into the “real world” and faced with its harsh realities. No more friends and family life lines. It was up to me to pay my car insurance, utility bills, rent, and other incidentals. It was up to me to follow the course of life my major, friends, family and society pushed me towards. I couldn’t do it. As happens too many of us, I went into college aimlessly without an idea of what degree tract to pursue. I just followed the “next step” that our current society pushes us to pursue…graduate from high school; attend a prominent college; graduate with an employable degree; land a good first job; meet the person of your dreams; marriage; continue the climb up the corporate ladder; kids; etc. Just like everyone else, I felt the pressures to be part of the herd and plod along in search of some form of happiness that could possibly be found in living the life of others.
The eyes. While looking into their depths, I experienced my past and the path it was pushing me towards. Clarity came with each word that I hurled towards my future self. The struggle of carrying the burden of doing what others think I should lifted. As my monologue came to an end, the press of the walls retreated and the universe seemed to expand. I could breathe. The interviewer seemed unfazed by my response and moved on to his next question. At the end of the interview, I stood up and reached to shake the man’s hand and told him thank you for “the moment.” He most likely found this choice of a words odd, but it was appropriate. This moment pivoted my life in another direction. I had no idea what that direction was, but I knew I was no longer going to swim against my current. I was going to seek my truth and follow my passions. By doing so, I knew I would discover my purpose and define my own life path.