Lots of years ago, I had a series on my blog of interviews with friends, colleagues and people I thought were up to really aligned THINGS called “Thing Finding Thursday”. It’s long gone, but a google search will yield sweet fruit (like this hilarious conversation with Jen Louden).
I had co-created said series back then with Kelly Diels. (And if you don’t know Kelly already, she is a writer, marketing consultant and rampant feminist. Her current THING is writing about the online 'Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand' and developing effective and ethical marketing practices so we can transcend it. It’s good. She’s good.)
So, back to the series. I was poring over the interviews and transcripts for research in advance of a webinar I’m hosting next week called “What IS your Starring Role?” This not knowing what the Starring Role IS can be a place of suffering for so many who feel called forth...but to what, they don’t know.
Their exact words:
“I WANT to step into my Starring Role, but I don’t know WHAT my starring role IS!”
Hence, the webinar.
And I recognized that I use the “Starring Role” language synonymously with “THING”...which is actually code for “PURPOSE”. And stepping into it, is about sovereignty, mastery, excellence. Mmm HMM.
And in my review, I came across this post from Kelly. It rang true in 2011 and it still rings true today.
Without further ado, I give you:
Prince George. As I step off the plane into the summer sunshine, I'm lit and light with anticipation. After two months apart, I'm about to spend a week with my loverloverman.
My week of wonder, however, is still a few hours away: I've got to get a shuttle to the bus station and then a bus to Smithers. But time with my man is closer than ever and that's all that's on my mind. It's everything that's on my mind. There's no need for dilly-dallying and dawdling in the airport, picking over magazines or picking up snacks and sustenance. No, I'm carrying everything I need in my laptop case, my purse, my hands, my heart. And so I head from the plane right through the airport, straight for the shuttle and step inside. I'm buoyant. Light. Travelling light.
I'm the first one in. What is taking everyone else so long?
They start trickling into the shuttle, sloooooooowly and inelegantly loading their bags and suitcases into the back, taking forever...Effing baggage. Let's go!
Oh wait. I'll be right back. That's what I exclaim to the shuttle driver as I leap out of my seat, out of the shuttle, and back into the airport.
For that one lonely suitcase rounding the carousel. My suitcase, the one I'd left behind in my enthusiasm to get where I was going...without my things.
WHO LEAVES AN AIRPORT WITHOUT HER LUGGAGE?
I almost did. And I'm not the only one. Airports and airlines have claim desks full of stray suitcases. People forget their things. If they thought about them, they'd know where they were, what they contained. Their things aren't lost, exactly. They just need to be claimed.
It was the same with My Thing. I'm a writer. I always knew I was a writer. From the age of eight I knew I could and would and should write essays, articles, books.
But I resisted being a writer because I read too much. I read Little Women: Jo scribbles in the attic and later lives in a single room in a rooming house. I read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and was not seduced by the existential anguish of an undiscovered genius. And then I read Down and Out in London and Paris wherein George Orwell decides he's a writer, lives in a bug-infested rented room and - when he's not working hellish hours in a hellish kitchen - sells his clothes to buy bread to survive another day.
True story. And not one I care to emulate. Attics and garrets, they grow tiresome. Poverty is not my thing...and so neither was writing for a living.
And so I always knew writing was My Thing but I chose to leave it behind. I walked out of the airport and into my life without my suitcase. Without My Thing.
And that was fine(ish). I went to university, I got great jobs, I did well, I made money, I worked in the city and lived in the suburbs, I lived well. Everything was ok.
From the outside. I got up, got my girls to daycare, went to work, did it well, picked up my girls, made dinner, put them to bed, watched TV...and wondered:
Is this it? Is this what I'm living for? To collect a paycheque to pay for daycare and cable?
And that wasn't it. That wasn't my thing and I knew it and I'd always known it. Because My Thing just wasn't practical. How would I make it a career? How would I make money?
And those are the wrong questions to start with.
When you're finding your thing, start with this:
What would I do for free? What do I do even though no one pays me?
The money and career questions (and answers and plans and plots and schemes) come later. Because Your Thing doesn't have to be a full-time job, a career or even make you money. Mother Theresa had a thing. I doubt it paid very well.
(My children pay even less and I'm in that gig for life.)
So put aside the practical questions and be truly, madly, deeply impractical: what do you need to do? What would you do for free?
And then do that. You don't have to quit your job. Just start doing your thing. You and your thing will find your way together.
If you claim it from the carousel (should I? Shouldn't I? Can I? Will I? And 'round and 'round...) and carry it with you on your journey.
Kelly's words...so good, right?
Here’s what I want to leave you with:
At this time, on this day, in this very moment, you may be looking around to the people you see as leaders. You may see a resounding lack of activation. Pay attention to that. That annoyance, irritation, disappointment and even disgust may very well be your Thing, your Starring Role calling you forth. Asking YOU to step into Healer. Revolutionary. Leader.