Hi there! I’m back! Back from my whirlwind trip to Fargo, North Dakota, to meet with and learn from a merry band of Misfits all keen to make a dent in the Universe. “Warning: This is not a conference for normal people!”
In my first post making sense of what I’ve just experienced, I’ve been inspired by this post by fellow Misfit and speaker at the conference, Jason Sadler*. He writes about feeling lost after the conference, starting on a journey to find his passion. It’s a journey I started back in 2010 when I was put at risk of redundancy in a job I’d grown bored of. Five of us, all at risk of redundancy or looking for change, started meeting once a month, bringing and sharing food and asking big questions, like:
Cut to three years later, and back in March this year, our very own Mel made a presentation to the You Can Check It Out team. She was talking about her experience so far being a Director of this very organisation that we founded back in 2011, as a result of our early gatherings. She said,
“Sometimes in life, I feel a little lost. The world stops making sense. I am overwhelmed with emotions – frustration, drive, confusion, passion, anger, love, fear, self doubt, excitement – all at the same time! It’s like a big explosion in my head! Every way I turn there seems to be a big brick wall blocking my way. Everyone I talk to looks at me with pitying eyes. “This is just the way it is Mel, get used to it” but I don’t believe it, there must be another way. So I keep looking, searching, wandering, I’m scared and alone.”
Mel gave us an awesome visual metaphor – the maze. In life, it can seem like we’re constantly looking for the exit door, the way out, searching for “that thing” that we can’t yet name. When I look back over the last 2 – 3 years, I’ve spent so much of it feeling lost. Maybe you’re expecting me to say, “So I can help you – I can help you find your way out of the maze, and move from feeling lost to found. Follow our twelve step programme! And look, here I am on the other side of the maze wall, waving to you and showing you the exit door!” But that isn’t how this particular story ends. There’s no limited offer to get the programme reduced from $97 down to $49 until midnight tonight.
The fact is, I’m still in the maze. I don’t have it all figured out. And when I watched Mel’s presentation, I had a realisation. What if the maze is all there is? What’s so bad about that? And if the maze is all there is, what would I do? Would I spend my whole time searching frantically for the exit? Would I just give up and quit – sit around twiddling my thumbs? Or maybe, neither of those things – instead, looked around, explore and say, “How can I make this bit of the maze better?” In her presentation, Mel goes on to talk about the people that she’s found who are also looking, searching, wandering – and Jason comes to this conclusion at the end of his post too, “Let’s not do this alone, let’s find out passions together.”
The amazing thing about being part of the You Can Hub and travelling to events like Misfit Conf is exactly this – finding other people who are also in the maze. The maze of trying and doing and learning, moving towards doing more of what they love, making a difference in the world, and earning a living along the way. And my major realisation is this – the maze is where the learning is. Do I really want to be out of the maze – with it all figured out? Wouldn’t that be kind of boring? So here I am – actually able to go, “Yay, I’m lost!” – revelling in the feeling, knowing that it means I’m learning and stretching and on a path to something that has not yet been named. So, Jason, this is for you. Welcome to the maze! Grab a (ginger) beer! Find your five people to share in the adventure – invite them in too!
Here’s to the maze explorers. We don’t have all the answers. There is no maze map. We’re charting our own course, making it up as we go along, learning wherever we can, making a difference where we can. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The amazing portrait of Lou looking a little lost is by Photographer and Fellow Misfit Israel Smith: http://www.facebook.com/isphotographers He took it shortly after Lou arrived in Fargo after a challenging journey.
*Jason Sadler has changed his name to Jason Headsetsdotcom for 2013. You can read more about this here: https://buymylastname.com/