Know your WHY

Knowing our why is important.  Frederick Nietzsche, a German philosopher, once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.”  When we figure out our why, we will find courage to take risks – to stay focused even when the world around us seems to be falling down – to passionately pursue what brings us joy. 

Depending upon our point of life, we may not fully understand what it means to know our “why.” We may feel pulled toward a project – a vocation – a person or group of people that fan our fires, that propel us forward. When we find our “why,” we feel awake, and sometimes, we feel consumed by protecting that which excites us.

I should offer a warning to those of us, though, who are just finding our “why.” We must prepare ourselves to realize that just when we think we have identified our “why,” the universe has a way of giving us alternative paths – changes happen.  We grow and change over time, and sometimes our “whys” change as well, and that’s okay.

The mega-star Pink croons “If you had one song left inside your soul what would you sing tonight?”  Her song urges us to define what we want to leave as our legacies.  I think she’s asking us to claim our why.  If we only had one message – one final thought- to tell the world, what would it be?  That is our why.  Every once in a while, we should ask ourselves why we do what we do?  What are we passionate about?  What makes our hearts sing?  The answers to those questions identify our why.

As a college professor, I often ask students on the first day of class to consider their why.  Why are you at this institution?  Why are you in this class?  As a person preparing the next generation of educational professionals, it’s important for me to ask them why teaching- why counseling – why childlife specialist – why work with children and/or young adults? 

My own why has many layers, but more importantly, I feel it deeply woven into everything I do – the fabric of my very being. I have dedicated my life to teaching because of the relationships I develop with young adults.  I have seen firsthand the deep connection between educator and student. 

As a college professor and former high school teacher, I have had the privilege of traveling across the United States as well as internationally with students. Whether to Austin, Atlanta, London, or Rome, these experiences challenge them to think differently about others; they practice flexibility, wonder, and being comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

My why for everything I do centers around children and young adults, leaving this world a better place than I found it. Every day I try to pay it forward so the world is a little more kind.

Take some time to consider your why.  Name it.  Claim it.  Own it. Keep it close to your heart.

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