Do What Makes You Feel Alive

An image of Melissa looking down and smiling.

When was the last time you felt alive? When was the last time you felt plugged-in to the current of life coursing through your veins? Can you recall what you were doing in that moment? Were you running? Were you giving a presentation? Were you dancing around your living room like Kevin Bacon in Footloose? No…just me? Ok, well, you should at least try that last one before ruling it out (wink-wink!).

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or if you are subscribed to The BlossomWriter Insider, you might have heard me say writing is what makes me feel most alive. And it’s true – when I write I feel like fresh oxygen is being pumped directly into my soul. But you may be wondering how I figured that out because, for many, finding the thing that makes them feel alive is difficult. It seems elusive and always just out of reach. It’s the needle in the haystack scenario – there are a million options and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll find “the one.”

My parents saw writing talent in my sister and I when we were young, and always encouraged us to engage with that talent. My dad would often say to us, “If I had your talent, I’d write a book,” which was a wink and a nudge towards us becoming authors. But just as my dad believed he lacked the talent, so did I. I knew I was a good writer, but, perhaps, not published-author-good.

And I admittedly thought, between she and I, my sister would more likely become the writer in the family. She always had a stronger interest in language arts and social studies and reading, like most good authors do.

I took some interest in writing early on, mostly poetry, but I never took much interest in reading. I would do the required readings during grade school and would occasionally pick up a book when the interest struck me; but I wasn’t an avid reader until I began trying to establish an identity in adulthood.

During college I wanted to establish myself as a reader, as someone who was likely to be found in the corner of a coffee shop, wearing glasses, drinking a handcrafted latte and reading the latest best seller. But, it turned out, I didn’t need to pose as a reader. It turned out, I actually enjoyed reading…and lattes. I enjoyed the stimulation and comfort of warm words and espresso.

So I kept reading and, in the process, I started to believe maybe I could do this, maybe I could be a writer. I would imagine my favorite authors sitting at desks in their homes or corner tables in their favorite coffee shops. I would picture them typing out beautiful prose, occasionally glancing up to glean inspiration out of the windows of their imaginations – or out of actual windows.

I saw myself in them and I heard myself in their words. And I wanted that life because I wanted to feel alive. I imagined authors felt alive or else they wouldn’t be so good at bringing words to life.

But it took me years to realize I could do it – to realize the thing I thought would make me feel most alive was within my reach, waiting for me to say yes. That’s the thing about the things that make us feel alive. It’s not so much about luck, but about listening, being present and saying yes when we’re called.

An image of Melissa smiling while writing on her laptop. The overlain text reads, "Do What Makes You Feel Alive."

Photo Credit: Debra Snell Photography

The things that make us feel alive are always available to us; they are always within reach. They are always speaking to us and leaving clues along our paths. The problem is we are either too distracted or too afraid to notice. We’ve conveniently forgotten how to be present because if we get present in our lives, and if we listen closely, we’re afraid we might actually have to do something different. And it might not be easy or popular. It might mean we make less money for a while, or have to adjust our schedules, or give up an identity we’ve been clinging to for years.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls this “Resistance.” He says:

“…the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it mean’t nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”

Just because something makes you feel alive, doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I love writing, but it’s often difficult and scary. That’s why it took me so many years to say yes. This morning I spent hours in front of my computer only to scrap most of what I had written. Other days I don’t feel motivated or inspired to write at all. I risk rejection. I don’t have the security of a steady paycheck. I have people wondering what I’m doing with my life because it certainly doesn’t look like the path they thought I would take.

But every time I write – every. single. time. – I feel alive, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.

Doing what makes you feel alive is essential to living a full life and blossoming into your best, truest self. But, whatever it is, you have to do it often; it’s not a one-off. We don’t take one breath as infants out of the womb and call it quits. Our lungs continuously work for the rest of our lives to bring life sustaining oxygen to our bloodstream. Likewise, we must also continuously work at activities that sustain our souls. We must be diligent in pursuing things that infuse our lives with energy and vitality.

If you’re afraid or unsure, start small. Start by listening to your intuition. Fear lives in the ego, not in the innermost self. Your innermost self, your best, truest self, is speaking to you. It knows where it wants to go and it knows the way. The only thing you have to lose by following your intuition is the life you’ve been dreaming of – one that actually feels alive.

Do you know what activities make you feel alive?  Do you experience fear or resistance to these callings? Are you actively pursing them? Comment below with your story and be sure to share this post if it was meaningful to you.

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