Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees

20 May

I’ve been struggling recently, trying to figure out what it is I REALLY want to do with my life. I’m starting to stagnate in my current job and I want to figure out something to do that will be more fulfilling. People ask, “what’s your passion?” I don’t know. I like writing. I like theatre. I like working in teams. I like kids. I like travelling. I like dancing. I like hiking and camping. I like throwing parties. I like history, sociology, philosophy, reading, math. I’ve found happiness in pep band and journalism and directing and rock climbing … but a passion? I don’t know about that.

There’s nothing that I feel just undeniably called to do with my life. And sometimes I feel like that’s wasteful. Here I am, born into a comfortable life, in a time period when I as a woman have more freedom than I would have at any other point in history, and I’m not taking advantage of it. I’m just going to work, spending time outside when I can, dancing and travelling when I can, building relationships with the people around me and living an altogether average life. 

I think every small child thinks they’ll be famous, or change the world in some significant way. One of the hardest realizations of growing up might be that you probably won’t, you’ll probably be one of the billions of people who live out their lives the best they can and are entirely forgotten by history.

I was reading Humans of New York today, and I found this comment, under a picture of a young woman who took a gap year and came back still not knowing what she wanted out of life once it was done.

It’s messing people up, this social pressure to “find your passion” and “know what it is you want to do”. It’s perfectly fine to just live your moments fully, and marvel as many small and large passions, many small and large purposes enter and leave your life. For many people there is no realization, no bliss to follow, no discovery of your life’s purpose. This isn’t sad, it’s just the way things are.


Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees.


I love this. This is the way life is, for me. There isn’t this one grandiose leading passion, which I’m sure is there for some people, but probably much rarer than we are lead to believe. There is joy in many things. There is joy in a late night conversation and a shared bottle of wine. Joy in a first date that goes well. Joy in walking around a lake and truly reveling in the sunshine. Joy in trying something new. Joy in an inside joke, a new friend, a text from your brother, a new city, a delicious meal. In building a life in which you truly feel at home.

When it comes down to it, the average, boring, forgettable life is the life most of us will live. There can only be so many superstars, leaders of revolutions, great philosophers and scientists. And if that is where your passion truly lies, than yes, seek it out. But for me, my dreams are great friendships, a family I love, a good job, and the chance to continue learning and experiencing new things. And the ability to experience the wonder in all the little things that make up a life. Because for me, that average life fully lived is more than good enough.

4 Responses to “Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees”

  1. Andy May 29, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    This is honestly so perfect. I found this blog by searching that line on google “stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees” because I too read that exact comment on Humans of New York and was convinced that it was a quote from somewhere (I don’t think it is). That one comment quelled my anxiety about my future – it let me realize that my future job isn’t the be all and end all of my life, but rather a means of partaking in other smaller and larger passions that will fill my life. It just feels good to know that others (probably the majority of people) share in this too. Sorry if this wasn’t eloquent enough for a blog website – I hated english and this is the first time I have ever replied to something like this. Thanks!

    • laurenkcampbell May 29, 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks! It’s always nice to know other complete strangers out there feel the same way. That’s one of my new favorite quotes now 🙂

  2. Erin May 20, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I find that sometimes it’s hard to enjoy moments (evan spectacular ones) because I am trying desperately to figure out what each one means and how it will make my life “relevant.” There is such a need to feel like my life is a story building towards some great catharsis that I am continuously frustrated by my lack of direction.
    Brain twin, come back to Seattle so we can discuss this post with the help of wine

    • laurenkcampbell May 21, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      So true – it’s really hard to appreciate life when you’re trying to make everything Mean Something. I definitely get the lack of direction. I’ll probably be home for a few days later this summer, but you should come here too! Minneapolis is beautiful in the summer!

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