Finding My Path – By Christine Callahan-Oke

I’m an explorer at heart.

When I was a child I spent hours poring over my parents’ National Geographic magazines. I imagined being a photojournalist or archaeologist traveling to exotic lands, visiting incredible cultures and seeing sights few had ever seen.

The Indiana Jones trilogy – and Harrison Ford – certainly didn’t diminish my interest in exploration.

In university I majored in anthropology and English. I was fascinated with the study of other cultures. I jumped at the opportunity to go on a 6-week archaeological field trip to Belize, Central America. It brought my textbooks to life. I was twenty years old and it was far from home, but such an incredible experience.

I decided, though, that I didn’t want to pursue archaeology professionally, and finished my undergrad having no idea what I wanted to do.

Then I got lost for a very long time.

I went through various jobs in the early years, working hard and expecting to find it – the ideal career where I’d feel fulfilled, happy and content.  But no matter the situation, I felt like something was missing from my life.  I had this nagging, aching sense that things weren’t right, as if my life had gone off course.

Then I thought it must be wanderlust. So I traveled and experienced new things.  And though it was wonderful, it didn’t fill the painful void deep within.

On the surface, my life looked amazing – great husband, supportive family and friends and a good job.

So why couldn’t I just be happy?!

I felt like something was wrong with me. Although I was grateful for my life and the people in it, I felt like I was floundering.

For 20 years I went through life doing what I thought made sense, but still felt empty. I’d stuff the feeling down and push through each day with a smile, but the emptiness resurfaced more strongly again and again until I could no longer ignore it.

Finally, I reached out to a life coach for help.  That was a turning point for me and the beginning of my inner exploration.

Did my coach have magical answers as to why I felt lost, unfulfilled and empty? No. And if she did, that wouldn’t have helped me. Instead, she did something far more important.  She helped me shine a light deep within so I could look beyond the layers of what others expected of me and what I expected of myself, to figure out what makes me tick, what’s important to me.

I finally allowed myself the quiet reflection I really needed to hear the stirrings of my soul. And in the process, I found my path. And I found joy.

I realized I had been looking outside of myself – to careers, people, exotic locations – to fill the void. It took me two decades – and a lot of inner work and trial and error – to realize that looking externally for happiness just doesn’t work. Not over the long haul.

Now I listen to my heart’s whispers and go where it leads, and the explorer in me is content. Though I still love to wander, I no longer look outside for joy and fulfillment – I find it within.

When I lose sight of my path or feel like I’m traveling in circles, I take a step forward – a single step. Then I allow myself to slow down, go within and really listen – and the answers come.

And I’m so grateful.

7 Comments

  1. Katy June 7, 2013 Reply

    That just spoke right to my heart! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Author
      christineonthebrighterside June 7, 2013 Reply

      Katy, I’m so glad it resonated with you – that means a lot. Thanks so much for commenting.

  2. Jennifer June 4, 2013 Reply

    You so beautifully described a journey I think so many experience. As we grow in wisdom and walk down any spiritual path, there can be so many questions and moments of confusion. Thank you for the peace and calm your post brings to it all.

    • Author
      christineonthebrighterside June 4, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Jenn, I really appreciate that. I still lose sight of my path – in fact, I find that as I grow spiritually, the challenges (tests?) seem to get bigger. So that’s when I remind myself to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n. and listen so that I know the next “right” step to take. Otherwise it’s really easy to get caught up in the daily busyness and simply run around in circles.

  3. HaleybeeC June 4, 2013 Reply

    Christine,

    It is wonderfully refreshing to hear someone be so honest and forthcoming about their experience. I really enjoyed this! Thank you!

    • Author
      christineonthebrighterside June 4, 2013 Reply

      Thanks so much Haley! It’s been quite the journey. I spent so much time in inner turmoil that it feels good to be able to talk about it now. I hope it’ll help those on a similar path realize they’re not alone and will get through it.

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