Know Your Why (Comedian Michael Jr.) (Click to View)
This clip is a perfect example. Maybe so good of an example that I may not even have to write anything. On the other hand, maybe I will…
Arriving at my “Why” was a different experience for me. My motivation was not derived from a life-threatening occurrence that happened as a child or that ONE relative that believed in me when everyone else said I would fail. I was blessed to have family and friends who have supported my dream. I was the only one that did not fully get on board the “Audra Train” so to speak. So, where does the motivation come from? I had to look a little deeper…
When I was a year and a half I was burned by a hot cup a coffee (I pulled it off of the table and onto myself). Not life threatening but it left scars (keloids) on my chest, neck and shoulder. The coffee spilled on my face as well but didn’t scar (I jump for joy about that every day!). From the ages of 2 to 16 years old I had about six reconstructive surgeries, wore itchy and utterly terrible compression vests (to reduce the scarring) that smelled like Velcro and discomfort (if discomfort had a smell it smelled like that vest). All of this just to look a little more “normal” and it still didn’t really work as my scar is still quite noticeable as an adult. As you can see below…
(More on this scar topic in another post.)
I also grew up as an only child though I had sisters and a brother who were much much older than me. Both my parents were only children so no first cousins to play with, so I could regularly be found in the midst of adults, desiring to converse with them. But who wants to share gossip about the lady down the street with a 5-year-old? On the contrary, me interacting with other children was also a bit strange because I was more interested in watching “Jeopardy” than “Sesame Street” (Sorry Bert, loved you Ernie and yes Oscar the Grouch did crack me up). I was a “Gertrude” stuck in a “Brittany’s” body. Quite possibly the youngest old lady you’d ever met. Which is fine until you grow up feeling completely “out of place” in multiple areas of your life.
For instance, maybe you always dreamed of going to an Ivy League university but your parents could only afford a community college so while you are in the library all “Good Will Hunting” and such your peers are out streaking across campus. Or maybe you are a minority at your job and it bugs you to not feel as comfortable around people who don’t look like you or come from where you come from. Maybe you have a leadership position that you were given (Yay Nepotism!) and it’s a job you don’t think you can handle or maybe don’t want to handle (Boo Nepotism!) but you don’t want to let the family down. The question you have on repeat in your mind is, “How did I get here?! And WHY?!”
As I look back on the times I felt like I didn’t belong, how socially awkward I felt amongst my peer group at times I then began to look at how my “placement” in those areas benefitted someone else’s life. For me, because I related more to the “unpopular” group of kids in middle school so I befriended other “unpopular” kids in my class. We were there for each other and appreciated one another. So much so that years later a girl from my middle school reached out to me via social media thanking me for being her friend, saying that I was one of the only friends she had. That really touched me. It made me feel like I was valuable and maybe even that I was in the right place after all. Who knows what her experience in school or even in life might have been if we weren’t friends. Who knows what MY experience might have been.
- So maybe you wanted to go to be an Ivy Leaguer and chum around with the “upper crust” and get the education that truly stands out on a resume but maybe you needed the leadership skills that you acquired at the community college that helped you develop the outreach program designed to get the students more actively engaged in their studies. Maybe you could single-handedly redevelop that school’s entire curriculum thereby positively affecting all the subsequent students that come through the doors!
- So maybe you are the minority at your company but maybe that is an opportunity to be a “voice of truth” for those who have been subjected to misinformation about your culture or maybe you are the person set in place to hold the door open for other people like you to create a more diverse atmosphere that more accurately reflects the world at large.
- So maybe you feel completely unqualified to run the company and this is your chance to show YOURSELF that you can do it or maybe you don’t want to run the company because you feel it is out of alignment with your purpose but you know an employee there that would do a fantastic job even though they are not related. Maybe it takes you being brave enough to pass the torch to the most deserving person thereby renewing the rest of the company’s faith in the integrity of the leadership.
Looking back at my life I had to learn to change my perspective. Stop looking at the things that did not align with my personal plans and see how they aligned with my overall purpose in life. Maybe I felt socially awkward so that I could be more understanding of other people that felt the same way. Maybe I have scars because other people have scars (whether external or internal) and they can find comfort and familiarity in my imperfections and hopefully in their own. Maybe life was showing me my “Why”/My Purpose yet I kept looking at it as my “Why I should not…”
- Because this is the thing that makes me feel connected to others.
- It’s the thing that makes me feel like my life has purpose.
- It’s the thing that forces me to be vulnerable and grow.
- It’s the only thing that makes my scars (external and internal) feel less like a misfortune and more like a miracle.
And maybe THAT my darlings is what makes it all worth it!
So what is YOUR why?
- Reflect on my why and let it be my daily fuel.