Kaje Marie is a former social worker turned blogger who writes about her quest for freedom and finding her God-given purpose at UnKajed Thoughts.
Back in the summer, I had a casual conversation with Kaje in the comments section of my post, Active Dreaming and the Art of Getting Ish Done. In her comment, she described a view of success that I’d been quietly cultivating but had never heard anyone else say publicly:
“Success…once upon a time I viewed success as the big house out in the suburbs, climbing to the top in my career, and a six figure income. Today, success to me is living a life of freedom, joy, and impact, and constantly being in pursuit of being a better me. So it’s a transition away from the material, the tangible and performance based kind of success.”
Wanting to delve deeper, I interviewed Kaje about what it’s like to chase an unconventional type of success in a culture that values the material.
Getting older and becoming more of an adult comes with some growing pains, as my mom calls them. I’ve definitely been going through them.
My twenties have so far been punctuated by a pervasive and increasing sense of uncertainty. Even though I’m learning to cope with the ambiguity of this part of my life, sometimes I struggle with it.
Additionally, moving from the relatively carefree period of my teens and childhood into the ever-increasing responsibility of my twenties has been shocking. And there is a little tint of sadness at the edges of my life as I watch my parents age and bury people I have loved dearly. The sadness comes from the events themselves, but also from the knowledge that such heart-wrenching things are normal.
So how do I make peace with the messiness of life? How do I end up like one of those women who’ve gone through decades of life and some hard things but still celebrate its goodness in the way they live with joy and optimism every day?
There is something that drives and motivates each of us in life. We may know what lies underneath our pull toward a purpose–one that’s designed specifically for us. Or we may just make the conscious decision to chase after the pull on our lives; knowing that it will lead us to the very things we want and need the most. Fulfillment.
I was curious about this idea when I first read about it on millenial wisdom blog Let’s Build Futures. LBF put a name to this feeling I’d been having of being drawn towards something else in life, even though my life was going fine. How could it be possible to feel like something’s off even when there’s nothing wrong? LBF called that feeling the Pull and describes it as our calling. Interested in talking more about this idea, LBF and I agreed to chat about our Pull and the things we’re doing to chase it.
Anxiety is something I’ve been dealing with since I was a teenager. It’s that overwhelming sense that things have gone wrong, are going wrong, and will go wrong and that I will suffer the terrible consequences. As a teenager, I was convinced that I was always making some grave social misstep when I interacted with people, and as a result, I felt that I was constantly being judged. I didn’t think anybody liked me and I isolated myself. I watched people’s interest in me dwindle, hemorrhaging friends every year. Devastating words like “failure” and “loser” and “alone” reverberated around my mind, chipping away at something inside me every time they collided with my insides. No one really called me these things to my face, but in my experience of anxiety, I was my own bully.
Fortunately, once high school was over and I went off to university, things slowly got better. I didn’t leave high school without scars and tattered self-esteem, but experiencing the freedom to take care of myself for the first time helped me begin to heal. If I was feeling overwhelmed, I could have alone time to get myself together. I could try to face social situations that intimidated me slowly, in a way that didn’t provoke a breakdown.
So when I left undergrad a few years ago, my anxiety came with me, but it was controlled. Instead of a wild, ravaging wolf, I had an unruly retriever on my hands. I could put it on a leash.
I thought that was the end of that, until last week, when I found myself awake at 5 am, on the verge of tears, and quickly spiralling. What?
Fact: I’m a dreamer. Growing up, I was your stereotypical introvert kid with a love of reading, writing, and drawing. I spent my weekends with my nose buried in a novel, and I lined up outside the bookstore to get my hands on the last Harry Potter book. Like many young introverts, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I spent my days daydreaming, or “catching gapsie” as my Caribbean parents called it, and I wrote a lot: plays, stories, journal entries, and when I got older, blog posts.
I had a lot of grand ideas, like how I would one day steal away to Paris in the middle of the night and embark on a fantastic adventure. Or how I would go to university and study archaeology so I could spend my work days traipsing through the desert and my days off sandboarding down the windswept dunes, my long, glossy ponytail flowing freely behind me.
At some point during my young adult life, I realized that while I never wanted to stop being a dreamer, I could no longer be only a dreamer. I had to get ish done. And so, I came up with the idea of “active dreaming,” or making the wonderful ideas in my head a reality.