Purpose: Living With It and Finding It

by Kenneth Rayman on July 4, 2019
The world of Personal Development is full of voices that barrage you with advice and sometimes that can overwhelm. I’ve written before about the Existentialism overload but how I found the perfect balance of new and familiar voices while recognizing those not serving me anymore or a new voice introduced that I easily can keep at arm’s length. Most of the time those new voices are on a totally different wavelength than I need or desire but what gets me is their own story that I can relate to. Charlamagne tha God, a radio personality frequently on Gary Vaynerchuk’s content, is one of those voices. Recently, he was on Jay Shetty’s new podcast to talk about his journey navigating mental health through his life. With his previous appearances on Gary’s vlog, I only knew his communication style, not his message until watching his #askgaryvee show appearance talking in depth about his book, “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me.”

However, his talk with Jay inspired me to think about how we process our environment and grow within it or evolve to create a new environment. He and Jay talked about being taught something valuable but not realizing its importance unless learning through experience over teaching. Primarily, this was in the context of developing mental framework but also the lessons learned when the advice is ignored. As Jay said, “the day you realize your parents were right, your kids are telling you you’re wrong.” I instantly had flashbacks of fighting with my mother growing up eventually replaced with fighting with my father, after she passed when I was 16. Though Mom and I’s fights were influenced by her fear for me based on a doctor’s twenty-year old advice that any physical activity was dangerous for me, Dad and I’s quarrels were over mutual respect and rigidity.

Talking about rigidity, Charlamagne said, “…the stupidest thing you can tell somebody, especially when you’re a parent, is ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say.’ No, I’m gonna do what I see you do.” This made me remember the times I heard that saying. I only remember it during conversation was about youthful hijinks and as Dad admitted to doing something that my brother and I would get in trouble for. Yet, looking at the second part of what Charlamagne said, I saw, as I got derided for “laziness” wanting things to come to me rather than strive for them, Dad coming home and sitting in front of the tv, unless doing yardwork. 

Before Mom passed and even after, the only places Dad knew how to get to were the grocery store, work, and the ice cream shop we frequented. Eventually he would quit going to the grocery store, resorting to the local truck stop for all three meals. This keyed my mind to whether I was primed to stay in and “safe” and think about “someday it will happen” or action and responsibility, by not just Mom. Whether we had the resources or not (as my siblings would later point out, I came along after mom and dad were “established” and not struggling), striving to meet and set goals was not something I would be shown to do. It was not until shortly before college graduation when Dad asked randomly, “What goals do you have?” and, being caught off guard, I had no answer. So, when Tom Bilyeu says in keynote after keynote, “I was taught to put my head down and avoid punishment at all cost,” I know exact what he means both practicality and metaphorically. 

I could have said I wanted to travel after college, but I didn’t save enough to do so and, after paying for my college, Dad wouldn’t have offered any help. I could have said, “I wonder what’s out there that I could find to write about…” However, I would have seen a fully self-reliant venture as unsafe, having watched Mom do nothing but panic over the brick and mortar craft store she started the year prior to her death, repeatedly saying she was barely breaking even. Dad would have also saw it as “unpractical, and following a passion project rather than responsibility.” 6 months after graduation, he started to say to me, “You need to find a job, I can’t keep supporting you” even though it was clear the 2008 recession had affected job availability and a trend started to emerge where nothing I did to find work had any success. Whether it would’ve been seen as “messing around” by him or “unrecognized opportunity” by me, the environment fostered a sense of aloofness to life and goal setting to control my own destiny. 

When it comes to current fears however, I think of those like me without the right environment now needing to find an element of freedom in their life, whether in their interest or life decisions. The last thing I want to see is someone unable to understand how to live life, let alone what they want to do with it, until middle age due to external factors. I want people to be able to recognize the opportunity and know how to make something of it. Whether it’s in professional pursuits or in life, I don’t want to see squandered potential because they lack simple understandings of goal setting and how to act on them.

I was 30 before I figured out how to “live with purpose” and 31 when I “found my purpose.” To the reader, whose first take of me and my story is this article, that might sound like the same thing but to a person within their growth currently, the difference is clear. One means to find the clarity within your life and environment to be fully aware of what affects you and how you react. The other, meanwhile, is what drives your being and is aided by the purpose you live by. At 30, I stumbled across “how to change” with necessity forcing me to re-evaluate my misguided understanding of life and, at 31, did a comfort zone exercise that showed me where my talent and enthusiasm merged.

I’ve found so many people now that have found their purpose and live with purpose, but before age 30, I would have been discouraged by them, themselves, seeing that “they had something I didn’t,” and/or their message would have purely “fallen on deaf ears.” People like Victoria and Derek with the “Beyond Your Diagnosis” podcast, bring voices to the image of chronic illness and show the listener that illness isn’t hindering them but giving them a chance to do it “their way,” talking about their challenges, options/efforts to adapt, and interviewing guests about chronic illness experiences and/or medical professionals. Derek and Victoria also work to make the listener understand they're not alone through Derek's "Chronic Love Club" and Victoria's adaptive Personal Training for illness. Others, like Mairead on Instagram, document their enormously complex chronic illness list to show their spirit isn’t diminished with the ups and downs of unpredictability. The first time I saw Mairead do a selfie with her chest port sticking out from under her shirt, I championed the self-awareness displayed, not allowing her illness to be hidden, while also not allowing it define her.

Then, I meet people like Teya in the United Kingdom who, like me, went on her own journey of self-discovery finding out how to live with purpose and find purpose. I lovingly refer to her as “my mirror,” sharing the same disability and severity except on opposite sides, while she calls me her “CP twin.” Finding her randomly on social talking about body positivity and hiding the biggest insecurity she had for years, her Cerebral Palsy, I couldn’t believe I had found someone exactly like me with everyone I met previously severely disabled, not mildly like myself. Her experience mirrored my own with self-loathing due to social ignorance growing up, and disgust at the societal white-washing of disability’s image as either inspiration or sob story, unable to personally see any middle ground or how to navigate through it so other disabled people “had opportunity” while we didn’t. I found myself in her, talking about hiding our “obvious” Palsy hand, hiding our brace (I still refuse to wear shorts), and making ourselves someone we weren’t to conform to “overcome” the one thing we “could” control, our image.

I look at how we all come in our respective journeys, wondering what I would have done if my framework were different and fostered without passivism in life, however, I think to what my first two mentors, Brendon Burchard and Gary Vaynerchuk, constantly say. Brendon says, “Only two things can change your life; Either something new comes into your life or something new comes out of you;” while Gary constantly says timing doesn’t matter, just action, so I can’t worry that it took 30 years to change but only what the next 30 brings which a young “me” will see and change earlier because of.

Listen to "Beyond Your Diagnosis"Visit the Chronic Love Club 

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Teya's website