There is almost certainly a socially constructed demarcation for how curious one can be before
being systemically marginalized. And there is a plethora of research that supports the existence of
social limitations on acceptable things we can even be curious about. Influences on where these
lines are drawn surround us. Family, politics, science, religion, literature, and media fill our minds
with thoughts that are not our own–creating beliefs that, again, are not our own. How do we filter
out the projected thoughts? There is not exactly a mental setting that sends thoughts directly to the
trash. Though, it probably won’t be long before Tesla or Apple announce that they may have a
“Curiosity killed the cat.”
As I spent my afternoon lying in bed from a killer hangover, the thought struck me: What is my life
purpose? An existential question resulting from a semi-sedated body and a hyperactive mind. I
would be lying if I said that my eureka moment was crystal clear and that was that. I think
something has unfurled throughout my life: my values. I never stopped to think about what I
learned to value and what I currently value. It’s a disorienting time to question the very foundation
of your worldview and personality. Not just questioning what I do, but why.
Growing up, my environment was chaotic and energetic and unpredictable, risky and reactive.
When I was young I saw a quote on Tumblr that was something along the lines of “strict parents
make sneaky teenagers.” My dad frequently said, “I was too big for my britches.” In other words, I
was too smart for my own good. Damn, if that wasn’t true.
Growing up in chaos means comfort in chaos. Making the peace amid the chaos. Seeking adrenaline.
Taking risks, although more intentionally now. Entering a profession of doing all of those things. So
is this my purpose? Sitting with people both experiencing and observing conversation after
conversation? Engaging in one-sided relationships for decades? I suppose that’s the healthiest way I
could use that childhood adaptation. But that doesn’t answer the question. What is my purpose?
I racked every corner of my mind and still find myself tying my mind in knots trying to find the
“right” answer. I decided to say yes to new experiences, step out of my comfort zone, set and
maintain boundaries, put forth more effort in relationships, and do things for myself and by myself.
I also decided to say no, respect my own boundaries, make the hard decisions, put in the work, and
really check myself. And, I think that’s my purpose.
Now at the cusp of beginning my adult life, I hesitate as if part of the Visual Cliff experiment. (look it
up, super interesting!) Who’s to say that my values and beliefs won’t continue to evolve over time,
but there is a certain freedom and fear that occurs when you realize you get to sit in the director’s
chair. I am entering my professional field after 6 years of post-secondary education. Would I want
to do it again? Honestly, no. HOWEVER, I would only not go through it again if I could still come out
of it with the same wisdom that came with it. Figuring out who I thought I was and who I want to be
painstakingly showed me who I am. The more I let go of who I’m not, the more I see who I am.
“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”
Kailani Norwell has a big mouth, a big heart, a big brain (metaphorically speaking), a big fucking ego, and an even bigger take on everything and anything. She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge–to learn all that she can–and for personal development. While she dreams larger than life and encourages others to follow what puts sparks in their eyes, she typically plays incredibly small. She has indebted herself for America’s most expensive therapist–a bachelor’s and master’s degree in clinical psychology. Writing is her passion. It’s what ignites her soul. It is her most sincere form of expression. She doesn’t think she’s to write the next great American novel, but she’s to write something.