Over the last two months I’ve had very little sense of time.
I’ve been focused on writing every day. This has led to increased learning, personal growth, and literally transforming before my own eyes.
What I’ve realized is that I’ve created something that’s allowing me to be my most authentic, truthful self. I’ve created an outlet for my expression with Th-Ink Queerly, where my mission is to help people see things differently.
Writing is essential to who I am and my wellbeing
This feeling of doing what feels most natural, what feels like my calling, doesn’t carry the weight of time. I’m in flow state more often than not, now on a daily basis.
This awareness alone might be my ultimate definition of success.
Success is different from achievement
Achievements or accomplishments are something you can concretize.
- You’ve sold so many new widgets in your business
- You achieved 30% financial growth
- You earned X amount of money by a specified date
- You completed a project
Success is a feeling
Success comes from within and is also part of a growth mindset.
If you don’t feel successful, you’ll have a difficult time achieving your goals. Or, when you do achieve a goal and you check it off your list, it’s not going to give you satisfaction. You won’t feel any success around your achievement.
Are you caught on the hamster wheel of chasing one goal after another, wondering why you’re never happy or satisfied?
Success relates to who you are as a “whole person”, as someone who is authentic and real. What I mean is this:
If you have to hide any part of your identity, your lack of self-acceptance will challenge your ability to succeed.
As a natural introvert and not coming out until I was 18, I spent many years missing out on what my peers freely enjoyed: authentic validation for their heteronormative sexuality. Growing up in the 70s and early 80s my sexuality was both unexplored and afforded no freedom of expression in the status quo.
Fear of success and the intersection of one’s calling
Growing up I tried to deflect attention from myself. I didn’t want to be labeled as gay, or bullied. My behaviour led me to shy away from certain situations in life. When I got to university I was finally able to explore my queer identity.
Queer, as a word at that time (1987 onwards), meant gay or homosexual. Queer was reclaimed by gays and lesbians and became a political term, one I was proud to use as a label for my identity.
That period of time led me to pursue an idea for my Master’s thesis in German linguistics. I wanted to find a hidden gay language, a way to discern how an author was using his language to leave clues. I wasn’t able to prove my thesis and had to drop it.
I moved on to further explore my gay and queer identity by working for Pink Triangle Press for 10 years. I was deeply influenced by their mission statement, “Gays and Lesbian people daring together to set love free,” which has long stayed with me.
Denying your identity kills your calling
After the Press I changed careers to begin personal training and nutrition coaching. I tried to be “the gay fitness trainer in Toronto” when I first started, but it didn’t work out. So I stopped promoting that aspect of myself — that part of myself that might have helped me stand out from the crowd, and do more “passionate” work.
That was 15 years ago. I don’t think it was purposeful, rather I was trying to build my business and I was conforming (unsuccessfully) to the status quo. I began a process of shutting down my queer identity. Looking back I realize how a part of me was literally dying on the inside.
Fast forward to the last two months of 2017
I came out, again, but this time in full force. Darren got his queer back!
In November I launched Th-Ink Queerly. A couple weeks later, my coaching website. I’ve been publishing six days per week and never once has it felt hard or like a chore.
It all comes back to queer
Being queer is my core identity. Having re-embraced that part of myself, I feel like I have an eloquence in my writing, and speaking, that I haven’t had since university.
By eloquence I mean, how the words come together, and the ease for the person communicating. There is a flow that seems natural, an ownership of the ideas, a comfort, and a humble confidence in the expression.
Eloquence is part of the feeling of living your calling
Be that how you speak, write, draw, or paint. The message, whatever your medium, flows with ease. It’s as if you don’t have to think about what comes next. It simply happens. You become the vessel of your message.
Your calling is your message and place in the world
The contradiction is that your message might not fit into the box, into the confines of the status quo.
I believe this is why many people struggle with following their passion, their mission, their dream, or their calling. The pull is strong, but so too is that of societal norms.
“You can’t be an artist! How will you keep a roof over your head?”
“Follow your dreams? Don’t be stupid! Get a good job, like your father, and retire with a pension.”
“You’re gay? Well you’d better be careful. Try to be normal so no one will notice. Why can’t you find a nice girl and settle down?”
Your calling comes from your gut, just as much as it requires guts
Were you expecting a 10-point checklist to find your passion? What? Find your calling by answering these 10 questions? If you believe that I have a desert I’d like to sell you that’s full of water. :-)
Life is a big, fucking, awesome, crazy journey. It doesn’t come with life manual or a GPS.
All I can offer you is this:
Finding and following your passion takes courage
It might also take a lot of time. You might have to buck the norm to be and do your calling. You might find it, use it, and then lose it!
You might have it, and then as I did, move out of it. But you can come back to your calling. It’s always there! Something things happen for a reason. By falling out of my calling, I’ve come back stronger and with more certainty than I could have ever imagined.
What do you want to do different in 2018?
What’s the ONE thing you want to do differently in 2018 that would have the biggest, most positive impact on you, those you love, what you want to do, and who you want to be?
If you do that ONE thing differently AND live your calling in 2018, what would your life look like?