We are attracted to narratives of the “defining moment” that comes through the pieces clicking perfectly into place, a heartfelt conversation with a friend, or a chance encounter with a stranger that gives one the feeling of knowing at a specific point in time what they are meant to do in life. This “defining moment” is referred to often in motivational speeches and self-help books, yet it is elusive for so many. Could it be that we are looking in the wrong place?
In my experience, defining moments are not found in the shining moments, but rather come about through hardship, disappointment, or profound loss—the situations that cause us to stop and question what we are doing in life. It is an uncomfortable place of realization. So uncomfortable and awkward that most of us look for the quickest way out of those moments.
However, hope lies on the other side of that unsettled feeling. Some of the most wonderful, enlightening experiences come from hardship when you have persevered through the experience. Many people in the past six months in particular have had unmeasurable experiences of disappointment, difficulty, and loss. Could it be that one of those experiences will launch your defining moment?
My defining moment
When I was 16 years old, I was homeless and in foster care. The principal of the high school I attended, Mr. Williams, lived across the street from the foster family I was living with at the time. One day, he called me into his office, and asked me why I was living with the family next door. I shared some of my story, and explained why I couldn’t live at home.