Growing up, I was never particularly good at anything. Some people are great at sports, music, art, or math, but not me. I was okay at a lot of things, but nothing that really made me feel special. The only things that came very naturally to me were talking, telling stories, being funny, and getting to know people easily. I didn’t think too much about those things. They weren’t anything special—they were just a part of me.
Fast forward to 2009. I had graduated from college in May of 2008, and had spent my first year post-grad trying to decide between different graduate school options. I had committed to a particular program because it felt safe, but looking back I realize that it never truly felt right. It was like I was trying to fit myself into a mold, and I couldn’t help but feel a little lost.
I spent the summer of 2009 working at a camp for teenagers in Tennessee. The first week I was there another staffer approached me and with confidence said, “Whitney, I know this is random, but have you ever thought about being a counselor? Because my husband and I were talking about it, and we think you would make a really good one.” She went on to list all the reasons why she felt like I would make a good counselor: I make people feel comfortable, people feel like they can talk to me, and several other things that I had never put much thought into.
I had literally never considered being a counselor before. It had never, not one time, crossed my mind but suddenly I couldn’t quit thinking about the things my friend told me. It only took me a couple of days of thinking and praying to feel absolutely certain that it was the right choice for me. I withdrew from my initial program and applied to a counseling program at the last minute. I’ve never felt so certain about a choice I’ve made.
There is quite a bit more to this story, but lately the thing that stands out to me about it is this—I was wrong when I thought that there was nothing special about me. The very qualities that come most naturally to me, these things make me unique. This is true for me, and it’s also true for you.
Each of us has something that comes naturally to us. Maybe you’re great at decorating a house. Maybe you can make a fantastic cake. Maybe you’re wonderful at working with kids. Maybe you’re super organized. Maybe you’re great at budgeting. Maybe you’re great at making spreadsheets. Maybe you can grow a beautiful garden. Maybe you love to write. Whatever it is that comes naturally to you, the very thing that makes you feel alive, that’s your special thing.
And if we look at it from the right perspective, our special thing can help us find purpose in our day to day lives. The world is full of so much negativity. How can you use the things that come naturally to you in a positive way? What can you do to enjoy these things more? How can you use them to help others? Whether you use these gifts in a work, volunteer, or hobby setting, pursuing these things can help renew your sense of purpose. More importantly, they can help you realize that you don’t have to try to fit into a mold, and that you have a unique purpose just the way you are.
I hope these words encourage you to think a little more about that thing you love doing. Have a great week!