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Music has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I find myself drifting away into the lyrics and imagining life through them. For this post, I am going to share a couple lines of a song from an artist my brother introduced me to a few years ago, Jason Isbell. While he is an incredible guitar player and a solid musician overall, his lyrics go straight to my heart when I listen to him (and to most others who listen to him). One of his songs “Life you Chose” off of his latest album “Something More Than Free” has especially stood out to me the past few months. The most prominent lines of this song to me are:
Are you living the life you chose? [or]
Are you living the life that chose you?
When I hear “the life that chose you” I think about the families we all were born into, or our families of origin. And when I hear “the life you chose” it represents one’s differentiation from his or her family of origin. So, as you read these lyrics, find yourself being curious about what these two questions mean for you in your life. These two questions can help guide us, as adults, through many transitional stages of our lives- and they always worth exploring.
When you begin to ask yourself if you are living the life you chose, or the life that chose you, this may bring mixed emotions. How do you find yourself processing the meaning behind these lyrics? Maybe you find yourself with a sinking feeling in your stomach because you are not sure how to answer the questions- maybe it is something you have never thought about. Maybe you feel guilt, shame or fear with what the answers to these questions could mean for yourself personally. Maybe you feel empowered because these questions are something you have searched for the answers to before, and maybe even happened upon a few. Or, perhaps you are simply curious as to what these questions could mean for yourself now and in the future. You could also have a mix of all of these potential emotions. Whatever emotion you are feeling, you are not alone. It is a natural part of adulthood to begin to (and continue to) question the lives we all are living.
It can be challenging to determine if the life that chose us is the one that fits us or if it is necessary to choose a different life path.
The life that chose you may positively feel…
The life that chose you may negatively feel…
Again you may be feeling mixed emotions, which is normal. There are likely things from the life that chose you that serve you well and others that do not serve you in any positive way. Consider this example: You may love the fact you come from a family where strong workmanship is valued and this value helps you in your current day to day profession. This value has helped you become successful in your line of work and keeps you driven. However, you may also find that your family also had extremely high expectations of you, expectations you never felt you were able to meet. As a result of this you have experienced a great deal of shame in never feeling good enough. While you are successful in life, shame consumes you and your self-confidence is constantly impacted- which is not working for you in life and negatively affects you on a regular basis.
It can be challenging to transition into choosing the life you want to live versus the life that chose you. After all, there are likely many mixed emotions to sort through in this process. A helpful thing may be to consider your life in its entirety metaphorically as a wardrobe. Within any wardrobe there are clothes you like and clothes you do not like.
Your family from which you came is your wardrobe and you have the power to decide what you want to keep and wear and decide what you will leave behind.
Just like going through any wardrobe, this task may be a year after year annual event or an ongoing process throughout the year. Find what serves you from the life that chose you and continue wearing this as a part of who you are. Finding what does not serve you, and letting it go, will help you choose the life you want to live.