Purpose is an ongoing journey, not a final destination

We spend enough time looking for happiness that it makes perfect sense to work at the task, maybe hard enough to burrow a trail in the road of life.

As we all know, though, living your life and loving it don’t always go hand-in-hand.

But it happens, and that’s why, when I met this particular woman a few months ago, I thought she was one of the lucky ones. She was confident. She walked with authority. She seemed happy.

Turns out she grew up in a small town, went to school nearby and then, for reasons not entirely clear even to her, she came to Dallas to live the dream. She didn’t have a job, an apartment or even any friends here — she just decided she wanted to live in Dallas, and so she did.

It was great, she says of the beginning, full of opportunities and excitement. Anything seemed possible, and trying to make it so was part of the fun.

Her story is a lot like the stories you’ll read in our magazine this month. The high school seniors we’re profiling worked hard to dig out of holes not always of their making to earn a high school diploma and, hopefully, a ticket to a better life.

As you’ll notice from the seniors’ stories, these students are filled with optimism and enthusiasm. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re young, and they have every reason to expect their lives to unfold according to their plans.

Perhaps their dreams will be realized. Then again, perhaps not. Most of us have already been there, right? We may be living the dream, but it’s likely not the dream we had in high school.

After many years of doing essentially the same thing, the woman I met says “fun” and “excitement” don’t pop into many of her sentences or weekends. Life is fine, she says. It’s just not what she thought it would be.

So much promise and so many plans when she first arrived. Now it all seems so long ago.

“I was so brave back then,” she says wistfully. “I wasn’t afraid of anything.”

She’s doing fine, so no need to worry. She just wishes things were different. Not specifically different. Just different.

And she’s using her younger self as the ultimate measuring stick.

That’s not what I wish for our graduating seniors. Instead, to measure their success, I hope they use one of those long, retractable tape measures that can be extended and snapped back with a flick of the thumb.

That’s what success and happiness are anyway, just quick flicks that can leave as quickly as they arrive.

Better than just hoping for success is remaining brave enough to keep trying new things. It’s hard to be bored or unhappy when you don’t allow yourself time to look back at the ruts in your road.

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