Exploring, desiring and piecing together the life that I believe I am destined to live. It began with daring to challenge unspoken assumptions about my place in the world, in search of a more fully-formed self. A more authentic self. One who navigates the different phases of life with a confident clarity that outweighs fear.
The challenge with such a significant existential quest is that life gets in the way. Inner demons, external hurts and unpredictable circumstances threaten to exhaust us. This leaves space for doubt to creep in. An internal dialogue begins: Is it worth it? Was it all in my head? If it’s not broken don’t fix it, things might not be ideal, but they are good enough.
When the darkness of difficulty descends, or the busyness of success distracts us, it can be challenging to discern your next step. It becomes all too easy to coast, to sit back and let others dictate your direction. Until you finally lift your head above water, wondering how you ended up in the middle of nowhere.
Even though there is no one and no thing that can give you a step-by-step plan of your life up front, part of our responsibility as humans, and as a community is to remind each other of who we are and why we started this journey in the first place. We owe it to ourselves to encourage each other to keep searching and resist the temptation to take the easy, inconsequential way out.
This is the driving force behind this book. In the following pages you will find a collection of reflections from my life, a life of pursuing purpose and meaning. This is by no means a finished process, but it is the story so far, and it is my gift to you.
My intention is that between these pages, you will find ideas that propel you closer to the person you are destined to be. That you will look again at your life, making conscious decisions about what can stay, and what has run its course. My intention is that as time goes on, you will bookmark and revisit different principles for times when you need them the most. That you will take what you need, exactly when you need it.
— Abiola, 20
Purpose + The process
Without fail, the question of Purpose and The Process is always asked by my readers and audience members. Like a resistant strain of bacteria, it seems to be the battle that our generation is fighting collectively. We feverishly gather around with our mouths agape, desperate for answers, hoping that someone will step down from on high and give us the perfect formula for finding purpose.
But there is no formula. All we can do is engage in a process of following the signs that point us towards where we are meant to be. These signs are less clearly defined than we would want, and there is a reason for that. They are not clearly defined because part of our responsibility is to live out our purpose daily. This process draws us to the edge of risk: risking the familiar; risking relationships, or risking our previously imagined version of ourselves. Most importantly, we risk the comforting yet vacant applause of a crowd who are just as clueless as we are.
Someone I admire once quipped ‘it is a privilege to think’. Now more than ever, we are living life on demand. We click a button and immediately get an experience, a product or a person delivered to us. In the cacophony of messages that decorate daily life, much of the thinking has already been done for us. The promise of efficiency and outsourcing unimportant tasks has been fulfilled. The problem is that this behaviour slowly creeps into the more complex areas of our lives: the places that require the heavy lifting of critical thought.
Critical thought involves questioning where the aspirations and expectations that we impose on ourselves really come from. It is true that we cannot escape the influence of each other, but we owe it to ourselves to take the raw materials of what society recommends and craft it into something customised. This is what many of us miss. We happily — and sometimes unknowingly — collect so much from others that our minds are brimming with content, leaving no space to do anything with it all. We have exchanged the profound for the convenient, leaving us craving more depth.
Like a skilled craftsman, our responsibility is to first develop discernment. To seek out the finest raw materials, and discard the cheap imitations that hawkers thrust in our faces for a quick sale (or a quick follow, quick view, quick click). Then, with a faint vision in mind, we start to arrange, shave, cut and craft the raw materials into something more meaningful.
It is easier to be a passive recipient than to turn away the hawkers and wait patiently for higher-quality materials. It is easier to add more to the pile than to commit to the days spent engaging in the laborious process of creating a masterpiece. The irony is that as we engage in this work, the vague vision becomes clearer: it is revealed in the process.
I wonder whether we need to stop asking what our purpose is, and start challenging ourselves to grow the courage to act on what we think it might be. There is weight in asking yourself the big questions: what are the right materials for me? What am I willing to substitute and what must stay? That takes courage.
This is not a single act of courage however, it is a series. A collection of giant leaps and amateur attempts to beat the odds. It can be as small as reviewing that draft one more time, to more radical transitions into a new city, a new job, a new relationship or an entirely new life. The moments when you feel like a novice and moments when you are sought out for your expertise. This is the process of pursuing purpose.
Are we ready for that? Are we prepared for the reality of life? The path of purpose is more prickly than glossy stories that fit neatly into 800-word editorials. If we keep walking, keep engaging in and keep trusting the process long enough, finally, somehow, we make it ‘there’.
To read more, the book is available at the following locations:
Roving Heights online across Nigeria (click here)
Lennox Collective, Lennox Mall Lekki, Admiralty Way (in store)
Laterna Bookstore, 13 Oko Awo Street V.I. (in store)
Amazon Worldwide online (click here)”
About the Author
Abiola Babarinde is a communications consultant and writer, based in London UK. Her work attempts to challenge life as we know it and uncover the things that matter most – the things we cannot see.
She has also published a regular newsletter, The Inner Circle since 2015, which focuses on personal development and spiritual growth. As a result, she has grown a highly-engaged audience of readers across the U.K., Nigeria and the U.S. Abiola is a regular public speaker, hosting her own events and joining an extensive number of panels. She trained as a management consultant, with experience at two of the global ‘Big 4’ firms.