Rediscovering My Passions and Purpose After MS
Somewhere along the path of life I lost my true self. I became so enveloped in my job and my career that a lot of the things I loved about myself were put on a back burner. I built my career around my ability to think clearly, see the world in a way others couldn’t and process information with a speed and understanding many people could only dream of.
When multiple sclerosis (MS) started to affect my cognition, my world came crashing down around me. The life I had built that orbited around work was deteriorating. The clarity and understanding were replaced with fog and confusion. The stress of sitting at a desk in pain surrounded by nothing but cloudy thoughts started to take its toll. I struggled with losing my identity, the person I thought I was. I battled with depression and cried at the thought of leaving my job. Who was I without my career anyway?
“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go…purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything…whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.” – Tina Turner
It didn’t happen overnight, but I began to purge. In consultation with my neurologist, I finally made the difficult decision to leave the workforce. I began to look at the other things in my life that caused me stress and weighed me down and I removed those things one by one. I began to realize that beating myself up for not being able to do something I once could would only cause me more stress and created a very unhappy existence.
I made the decision to instead focus on the things I still can do. This decision required me to go inward, to look at who I really am. I sat down and completed an exercise in defining my passion and purpose. I tried to answer the following questions posed by Jack Canfield in his book “Key to Living the Law of Attraction“:
- What are my unique gifts, talents, interests, strengths and qualities?
- What things bring me the most joy and make me feel really alive?
- What is my personal mission and purpose in life?
A pretty deep exercise, I know, but well worth the effort. This self-reflection exercise allowed me to rediscover the true me. I may not be able to do a lot of the things I once could, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my life or that I don’t have anything to offer this world.
These days I focus on my passion for photography. Telling stories and evoking emotion in people with my images gives me a sense of purpose. I love creating pieces of art that touch people somehow. If MS hadn’t changed the course of my life, I don’t think I would have ever nurtured this gift within myself.
I encourage all who read this to take a step back and analyze their lives. Do you understand what your purpose and passions are? Are you being your true self and fulfilling that purpose? It is sad that many people have to experience illness or traumatic loss in order to discover who they really are.
Moral of the story is do what makes you happy. We only get one kick at this can, make it something you can look back at when your life is over and say you truly lived it.
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