I just finished reading an interview with Diane von Furstenberg. For those of you not familiar with the name, she is most notably recognized for creating the wrap dress which curvy girls all over the world thank her for. During the interview, she was asked about her motivation to begin designing clothes and her answer really sparked something inside of me. She said,
“…I didn’t always know what I wanted to do but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”
For someone who is at a stage where life’s most pressing question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” should be answered by now, I have to say, reading that quote provided a wonderful reminder.
I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m not clear on my talents or passions and as I age, I feel like more doors are closing than opening. I was encouraged by what Diane said because although I may be too fat to be a ballerina, too thin to be a sumo wrestler, too young to be doing something for a living I don’t love, but too old to be choosey, I should never allow those oppressive labels to interfere with my journey of self discovery.
I have always admired those who knew what they wanted out of life and went after it. But there have been times when I have felt that because I have not taken a linear path in life, I am perhaps lost or lazy or idle. There is no shortage of examples of individuals who have drastically changed the course of their lives and found success in new fields. There’s a funny scene in Back to the Future where Michael J. Fox’s character, Marty McFly, is sent back to the past. When he arrives, his friend who doesn’t know him at this point in time, starts asking questions forcing Marty to prove he is indeed from the future:
Marty: I’m telling the truth Doc, you gotta believe me!
Doc: Then tell me future boy, who is president of the United States in 1985?
Marty: Ronald Reagan.
Doc: Ronald Reagan, the actor?!
Some people’s lives look like a clear evening sky with all the stars aligned: they do something they love for a living that they’re talented at and motivated towards. But for me, finding my life’s purpose has been more like excavating through a dark mine. It has taken time, but through the digging I have learned a lot of lessons – some ugly like ore and some brilliant like a diamond – but all precious in their own way.
As I continue on my exploration, what’s going to be my touchstone to help me measure my success? How many friends I have? How much Qur’an my children have memorized? How much education I’ve amassed or how lucrative my job is? As important as all these things are in shaping us, true success lays only in the permanent and constant hand of Allah. And when I reach out to Him, I then realize I’m not lost, I’m introspective. I’m not lazy, I’m actively searching. And I’m not idle; I’m working towards finding and creating meaning in my life. And guess what? That is exactly the kind of woman I have always wanted to be.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a loving mother to two girls.