Finding Your Life's Direction
A Story of Passion, Purpose, and the Search for the Right Partner
I sat down to meet with a father and son recently. The father’s concern was that his nineteen-year-old son was not socializing with his peers. They are an immigrant family who have been in the U.S. for most of his son’s life. The dilemma for the son has been: his parents do not want him to talk politics, and politics has become a central interest to the son. Our conversation got off to a slow start. We explored the young man’s history, his respect for his parents, and his willingness to cooperate with their advice.
I noted that the tenor of our interaction was mostly thinking-oriented even about personal information. This could mean something, or not. Sensing I had come to the end of what we were discussing, I shifted gears impulsively perhaps, and asked the young man, “What issues do your parents not want you to talk about at school and in your social life?”
Immediately, the conversation changed. This young fellow presented a sophisticated analysis of an issue that he feels compelled to talk about because it has an ethical application to all human relationships and speaks to his cultural background. His views were sensitively expressed and passionate. His personality lit up with enthusiasm. It was delightful to see him come alive with passion and purpose.
I then asked the father what his concerns were about his son’s views. The father revealed he did not want his son to alienate potential friends. We discussed this at length. Surely, the young man can find peer groups that share his interests and passion. I already had some ideas for him.
As I acknowledged the son for his deep thinking and sensitivity, his face lit up and he became even more energized. This is his path to his deepest values and life vision. When he spends time with an appropriate peer group who share his interests, he will blossom and grow friendships. The young man’s face relaxed as the conversation went in this direction. He became even more animated and happy. He wanted to know where he could hang out and be himself.
In the big picture of this young man’s life, or any of our lives, we must pursue what calls to us for purpose. This integrates our personality because it elevates what is important to us and gives us our life’s direction. This is how we develop and become an individual. It incorporates the meaning of “individuated,” that is, knowing ourselves and being able to lead our life forward.
To have passion and purpose is to become internally connected to one’s self. This prepares us for partnership because in discovering what is important and developing skills to deliver on our vision, we become prepared to meet the people who share our values. We then develop deep friendships, and find the right partner.
Eventually, I addressed the father’s concerns. He and his wife want to protect their son from losing friends or being misunderstood. In actuality, the young man did not have the friends he wanted. We brainstormed settings he can find friends who share his interests. While this is a discovery process that will take time, the young man was very happy to hear he can be himself and find friends like himself.
So many single adults ask me how to find the right partner. This is my strategy: Know yourself. Develop your interests and find people who have common interests. Date a lot of different people with whom you find affinity. Some of the individuals you meet may become friends. Eventually you will meet someone special where there is also a romantic energy. It will be an emotional connection and a meaningful connection that can last a lifetime.