Ask The Therapist: “I feel very lost about discovering my passions…how can I gain some focus?”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I feel very lost about discovering my passions. I had a great interest in doing things as a kid, but now the more I grow up, the more lost and confused I feel. It feels like either I won’t be able to do it or I just don’t have a creative side (I feel like I’ve lost that too), but I want to do something to earn money. I feel suffocated. I am not sure if family boundaries are another thing holding me back, but I really want a good job so that I can travel the world. Please tell me how to get some focus?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I can really relate and understand that feeling of feeling lost and confused, especially in the face of discovering my passions – it is something that I, and many others around me, have struggled with. As children, the world around us is vast and full of possibilities. The sky’s the limit, really. Though as time progresses, and as we become more aware of reality, there’s a sense of disillusionment that happens. We start to question and ponder the possibility of whether or not things go out the way we want them to. Our dreams start going into the realm of impossibility, and as such, we move towards practicality and things we deem possible. In this process, we may lose different sides to ourselves, especially the dreamer within us, as well as that sense of creativity.

So, what can be done? How does one balance the practical and the creative? The good news is that all is not lost. It’s a matter of some discovery and rediscovery.

Reconnecting With Your Inner Child

As we grow older, we tend to lose touch with our childlike innocence and creativity. Perhaps it’s worth exploring some of your formative years and staying with those answers, perhaps even working in conjunction with your identity as an adult. Some explorative questions you could ask yourself would be:

  • What did I want to be when I was a child? 
  • What do I want to be now?
  • What activities did I enjoy as a child? 
  • What activities do I enjoy now?
  • What was my favourite movie growing up?
  • What is my favourite movie now?
  • What brought me happiness/joy when I was a child? 
  • What brings me joy now?
  • What was I like as a child?
  • What am I like now?
  • What were some of the creative things I did as a child?
  • What are some of the creative things I do now, or would like to do?

The idea of this exercise is to bring into focus the parts of yourself that might seem lost, yet still exist within you. It’s about rediscovering and finding ways to reintegrate those things into your adult life. 

Now, coming towards the second part of your question: how can you focus? What can you do to feed that drive and motivation?

Visualising Your Goals

Sometimes we have certain things in mind, and usually, we find ourselves wanting to get to a certain place in our life, but we’re not sure about how to get there. What you can do is start reflecting on the things you would like to explore and pursue as a career. This might take some time, and that’s okay, be patient towards yourself, and be open and honest. Think about things that you feel interested in, whatever career path that comes to mind. Then, think of all the steps you need to take to get there – those smaller steps become your specific, attainable goals. So, instead of looking at it as one big goal, you think of it as several small goals, and there you have it: a road that leads you to where you would like to be. What if things don’t work out, you say? That’s okay. Life often doesn’t go the way we plan, and when that happens, we take a step back, reassess, and move from there.

Create A Vision Board!

A vision board is a great way to not only a great creative project, but it also serves as a reminder of the things you would like to do. A vision board is a way of bringing your goals and desires to life. You can take all kinds of images, words and bring them together on a poster-sized board (I would recommend googling “vision board”, if you haven’t seen one already). It doesn’t need to only include career-related goals, you might even put up something related to a hobby – perhaps learning an instrument or picking up a new skill, or even learning a new language. It doesn’t matter – it’s your board. Make it however you like!

Anon, while our family can set certain boundaries, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. Think about what all you would need in order to get to where you would like – sometimes that even means gaining financial independence from your parents, or perhaps sitting down with them and really discussing your plans, once you have more clarity and are certain of your path. Take your time and see where you end up, and stay as open, authentic and honest as you can during this process – especially with yourself. 

I hope that you were able to get some clarity from this article. I wish you all the best on your journey of self-discovery and reflection. Best of luck and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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