One of the most interesting and thought-provoking questions I have come across was, “What would you do if money wasn’t important?”. From my current point of view, it sounds awfully similar to that popular question everyone seems to ask a child whenever they meet one, “What would you like to be when you grow up?”. A child has no notion of the importance of money in our society. They simply follow their hearts when they answer that.
I mentioned this because every single time I considered the possibility of applying to a certain job in the past, I would primarily focus on so many unnecessary factors that I marginalised how I truly felt about the actual position. Maybe if I hadn’t done so, I would have walked a much shorter path to my current job, but that’s the lesson I had to learn that way.
Eventually, I managed to find my way and define success on my own terms. I’m sure different people will have different experiences, but I would like to share my journey and what it took to discover my own purpose in what I do.
Defining success for myself
When I was searching for my dream job and trying to think of the best career for myself, there was one word that every single person used when I asked them about their aspirations: successful. That’s the adjective everyone described their future position with; a successful doctor, a successful lawyer, a successful artist… I certainly agreed with them and also wished to become a successful writer, but I never knew what it actually meant.
Does ‘successful’ mean I become what I dreamt of in my childhood? I wanted to become a vet, so for me, it definitely cannot be it. Does it mean I make a lot of money? Probably not, because then my job would just be a means to get something, rather than an adventure where I could find myself and grow. Then, does it mean that a lot of people have heard about me? For someone, maybe, but that is not what ‘successful’ means to me.
It took quite a few years, many job applications, and then quitting, searching, exploring, failing, and learning to be content with how I define success eventually. To me, success has a lot to do with purpose. Finding my own purpose helps me feel valuable, fulfilled, inspired, creative. Those are all the words I could use to describe ‘a successful person’. So, when I started feeling like that in my job, I knew I was on the right path.
I consider myself successful whenever anything I do creates some value. I also try to see success as a constellation of many small everyday joys and acts of kindness rather than this huge, ostentatious, stereotypical end-goal that people have made it seem.
If I knew my writing reached many people but made a difference to only one person and helped them transform their mindset and feel better, I would choose that overwriting silly content that entertains thousands of people but contributes to nothing more than that.
Finding purpose in what I do
Writing helps me express myself, but it also helps me address others and speak to them. And when I say ‘speak to them’, what I actually mean is – intentionally and carefully using words to achieve a goal, help them feel something, or intrigue them to think critically. When I define writing like that, I cannot tell which is more important – expressing or addressing.
There has always been one special thing I could single out as my favourite when it comes to reading books. I love the experience they give me and a sense of belonging. It’s strange when I say it like that, but you know what I mean if you have ever experienced that belonging while reading. Some books just naturally grasp me so powerfully that I can’t put them down anymore. For me, those have been the books that describe everything in such a way that I can easily become a part of it. It’s like having a whole scenario unfold in my mind; all my senses are actively working to create the feeling the book is trying to evoke. That’s the power of words, and I really enjoy it.
So, when I started writing, I struggled to figure out what it was that I wanted to achieve. I kept asking myself – What am I doing? How can I use the power of words to add value to this world?. That was how I realised my purpose. First, writing is something I am very passionate about – it comes from my heart and makes me feel fulfilled every time I do it. Then, if I do something I love so much, something good must come out of it.
When I understood those two things, I could clearly identify my purpose. If I share my own experience of life, there will be people who share similar struggles, who are inspired by the same things, or who are looking for the same answers. So, if I could reach them with my words and get them to make a change in their own life, that would be the ultimate purpose I could possibly ask for.
Addressing the people who will need to hear me
I remember, when I was a child, when I read a good book, I felt that I and the characters were best friends. As I grew up and read more, that thinking switched from the characters to the author. If I liked the book, I would try to find out as much as possible about the author and what made them write that book.
That’s the thought hovering above my head whenever I think about writing now. Especially fiction, because I have always preferred fiction to non-fiction. I would feel like I was living the book that I was reading. Now, when I write about something, and I share the way it felt, or how the room smelled, or my thoughts at that moment, I feel like I am opening a door for my reader to get in and experience it with me.
I could never pinpoint the exact group of readers that I would like to target. Or maybe, I haven’t been able to yet. ‘Yet’ makes all the difference here. It shows that I’m still searching, defining and most importantly – growing.
Another one of the important questions I have once read and that resonated with me is, “What do you want your readers to remember you for?”. Judging by the way I read books, I would say ‘a feeling’. I would love for my writing to be so poignant and therefore powerful that people feel the words that I write and then get inspired by them to make a change in the way they think. I would like to change their mind to always inspire action. I believe that words can be so powerful because they can evoke certain feelings. When I look at the collection of books I gathered over the years, I kept only those that did that for me, and I can tell exactly which feeling it was for each of those books. Stories can easily be forgotten, especially the details about them, but the feelings they evoke stay with the readers. That’s the true power of words for me, and that’s why I love writing.
How do you see the power of words? Have you ever read a book that you will never forget?