Lost and Found
Bookworms and bibliophiles love books. Foodies love food. Oenophiles love wine. As a logophile, I love words. Can you guess my favorite word of all? I’ll give you a clue: at the age of 21 this Colorado girl found love in Madagascar. And then as a result of distance (oceans and continents), time and circumstance, it became a love lost. 12 years later I found it again. Retrouvaille definition: In French “trouver” is to find something. Add the prefix “re” and you “re-find” something. Retrouvaille thus refers to a friend that you have found again, but not just any friend, a bosom-buddy, a BFF, someone who “get’s you.” In English, we find the words to represent these close friendships, but we lack any truly “retrouvaille feeling words” in English, which means that we’ll just have to use the French!
Logophiles love words.
Yep, that’s me. I am a logophile.
As a logophile, I can quickly get excited about the etymology or the origin of a word. I am fascinated by words that exist in one language, but not in others. And, I adore words that have slightly different nuances. As a student of anthropology, I also tend to note how vocabulary reflects the differences between languages and cultures. It’s an inside game for me to modify my word choice to suit my audience, be they American, English, South African or Australian. My thesaurus is a reliable and dog-eared friend. Tragically, my love of words nearly spelled death for my career as a writer. Thankfully, the experience of retrouvaille presented me with the time and the situation to reflect and find my path home, back to the written word.
This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. Any purchase you make through an affiliate link on Alibcandid generates a small commission for me at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
How my logophilia prevented me from becoming a writer.
Logophilia & Lover’s Quarrels
As a logophile, I confess that I am apt to get a bit snippy over how people use words. The connotation of a word is critical! If someone (up there) is keeping a tally, the record indeed shows that I am willing to defend the virtue and intent of my word choice. Disagreements of course often stem from misunderstanding — if only everyone paid attention to word choice, perhaps we’d have world peace!
Logophilia comes into play in my life as I search for words to express the perfect meaning or make an underhanded joke (or insult). I am also concerned with the implications and connotations of words. Contextual intersectionality, for example, is an excellent example of how word choice can help us to acknowledge or deny another person’s experience. By definition a logophile, of course, loves words. The root word of “logo” hailing from the Greek verb “to love.”
Logophilia definition: By definition a logophile, of course, loves words. The root word of “logo” hailing from the Greek verb “to love.” Logophilia is then the act of loving words, but also the act of wordplay. When you love words, you can’t help but also play with them!
One of the reasons I love my husband so much is that he also loves words and meaning. He is particularly fond of word jokes with subtle sexual undertones. He too adores riddles that trick people (usually our kids) into saying or doing something silly. One of his favorites is a line of questioning about Napolean’s horse that concludes with most neophytes responding that cows drink milk (not water)!
Some couples argue about finances or the kids, while our most heated and memorable disagreements often center on words. Notable debates include the following words: silly, indigenous, and mammal. Not all on the same day or even the same week mind you, and yet these were severe disagreements involving dictionaries, raised voices, and internet research.
For better or worse, my arguments with my husband over the connotation of words and appropriate vocabulary choice is not a solitary experience. I’ve been getting into trouble over words my entire life. From the time I spent a morning in the quiet room as a three-year-old, to just last week!
A Personal Retrouvaille: Me, Myself and I
Sometimes our best friend is not waiting to be found, but already inside. Rediscovering my love of writing and embracing my love of words is like rediscovering a best friend. Finding purpose at my keyboard is exhilarating. And helping others to find themselves through words and language is inspiring.
I have arrived. I am home. I might be feeling a bit precocious.
If you need to say something with words, but can’t find the right ones or are not sure what to say, ask me, I am at your service.
The Greatest Retrouvaille of All
We are not yet at the end of the story. The most noteworthy reason for my love of the word retrouvaile, is that my husband is the greatest retrouvaille of my life. We first met in 1998. I’d flown half-way around the world from Colorado to Madagascar for my semester abroad.
While in Madagascar, I lived with my husband’s family, falling in love not only with him, but with his entire family. The experience changed me forever on a spiritual and an intellectual level. But at the age of 21 I didn’t really believe in true love nor did I know how to make an international relationship work.
Fast forward 12 years and my husband decided to take a road-trip across the United States. The moment we saw each other the electricity flew. The greatest retrouvaille arrived at my front door and life forever changed. Not only did we find a way to write our own story, but the experience cracked me open in a way that continues to provide opportunities for me to grow and discover.
Do you have a retrouvaille story of your own? Are you a logohpile? Share your stories of retrouvaille or the written word below — I want to know!
If you follow Facebook or LinkedIn there are any number of articles appearing in your feed (or at least in mine) each day about all the little things successful people do to be successful. So what happens when either you do all these things (or at least enough of them) and yet you seem to be stuck? Why do some seemingly successful people always feel stressed or anxious? Why do some people apologize over and over again? Why do some people fail and keep going, while others fail and call it quits?
Maybe when we get desperate or anxious or lose our way, even when we think we are doing all the right things, maybe what we really need is a change of perspective….
I talk a lot about gratitude because I have found it to be a foundational component of my own feelings of happiness and success. Gratitude is a commonly accepted character trait and practice of successful, happy people. If you read certain texts or books you might come away thinking that gratitude is the magic bullet to a happy life.
But then how do you explain the experience of a highly successful entrepreneur who practices gratitude and yet is perpetually anxious? Or how can we explain the thousands of stay at home moms (and dads!) who have everything they need, who adore their children, who are so grateful to have the possibility to stay home, and yet they feel incomplete or stressed?
They say you are a success, but you don’t feel it?
Goal Setting: How to live a life you love!
Step into Your Fear and out of your Comfort Zone
To find a real sense of success, you must step out of your comfort zone.
You must risk vulnerability. To pair success with happiness, you must also set goals.
To risk failure is how you win big.
Achieving your goals also means you need a plan and a vision. And you need to be clear about your values. Sometimes you need to forget about the “shoulds” and instead focus on the points that cause you discomfort.
You will note that I put “should” in italics. Why? Because “should I” is a dangerous meandering path when goal setting. “Should I” or “I should” phrases indicate actions that we take to fulfill someone else’s expectation of us.
As a young person, I went to university because my parents said: “I should go.” Many of us that go to university go because we should. Now, I don’t mean to say that going to university is a terrible idea, but if you are going to spend four or five years of your youth and countless dollars on a university campus, then you better darn make it count.
Too often we go to university to just “to learn” or because we want to follow our hearts, but we don’t sit down and start day one with a specific goal in mind. We think that obtaining a bachelor’s degree is enough.
We go, and we finish university because studies show that those with a bachelor’s degree earn more money than those without and those with a master’s degree make even more. And so our parents and society and everyone else tell us that to be successful, we should go to college.
And yet, we have the famous college dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Jobs and Gates had goals. They had a plan coupled with the intelligence and the willpower to go it alone. They took a significant risk; they stepped out of their comfort zone. Dropping out of college makes us vulnerable. Staying in school is the comfortable, easy path. But not everyone is a Jobs or a Gates.
Read about Bill Gates on his website.
Why should I go to University?
Think about it. In the long run, it is much easier to stay in school than it is to drop out. Univesity graduates make more money and have a more comfortable path. But earning a degree will not necessarily deliver job satisfaction or a reliable paycheck.
Why should I go to university?
Be clear about your intentions. Why are you going? Do you need to change your goals?
When you talk to “adults” it is surprising how many people slog along every day unhappy and dissatisfied. These people demonstrate what happens when we follow the rules too closely.
Many of these dissatisfied folks checked off all the “shoulds haves” on the list, but they also avoided the “shouldn’t haves.” They stayed in the comfort zone and played by the rules. And now they are jaded adults. Don’t listen to them.
At the same time, Jobs and Gates may not have graduated from university, but this doesn’t mean that should quit university or skip it all together. My point is that you need a goal, a plan.
You need a plan.
You need to know why you are doing what you are doing. You’ll recall that Jobs and Gates both had a plan. And, you will also notice if you look at the Fortune 500 list there are more people on the list with degrees than without. Most of us are not brilliant geniuses with unique ideas like Apple. Finishing university does make sense for must of us. Usually.
You need to set 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals. You need to look at who can help you achieve your goals. What is blocking your way? You need to find answers to the following questions:
- What will I do when I finish university?
- Why am I taking specific classes? Will these classes serve me after university?
- Who is my mentor? Or where can I find a mentor?
- What experience can I get now that will help me later? Internship? Volunteer? Research project? Hobby
How should I decide on my major?
What will challenge you, but also be exciting? What courses will make you jump out of bed in the morning?
What do you find yourself chattering away about at a party? Or when calling your grandmother?
What kind of people do you enjoy spending time with? Not who do you THINK you should spend time with, but what kind of people make you happy?
Who am I?
If you need direction, taking a career assessment, strength finder or personality assessment (or all of those as mentioned above) can also be very useful. Personally, I like the Strengths Finder book and test, because the idea is to explain to you your strengths and how they work together. I didn’t take this test until the age of 33, and it changed my life.
Read more about StrengthsFinder 2.0
If I’d taken it at age 20, perhaps I’d have stepped out of my comfort zone much earlier! Self-understanding and appreciation are vital to career success.
Today, there are also many online “free” personality type tests. These can be taken for fun, but I am weary of these free tests when making a career decision. Ideally, I recommend taking personality tests as part of a class or workshop through careers services or an association.
Next best, is to find and take an actual test online and or buy the book. You can self-grade and assess. The Myers-Briggs personality type, for example, is well known, well used, and easy to understand. There are knock-off versions for free, but I highly recommend (and I am not associated or paid by them in any way) taking the real test!
Note that a personality type test is not the same as a Strengths test. One shows what you are natively good at, the other shows how you like to work. Different personality types may have the same skills and strengths. Not everyone in your field will work or think just like you.
Unique and Indirect Paths Can be Good
Maybe your chosen field of study will be different than your first, second or third career path. This discrepancy is not a bad thing. You can study biology or film and still end up on Wall Street or with the CIA. But you need to be intentional. You need to know why you do what you do and when. You need to make sure you have the skills that your future career requires.
Life is a journey, and it is okay to change directions, but the most successful people know why they take certain turns. And they can explain that change to their future boss.
Live a Life you Love: Don’t Settle for Comfort
I had a happy youth. Nothing fancy, but I grew up in a nice home in the mountains outside of Boulder. My father built much of it with his own hands. My mother worked at the University of Colorado. My grandparents lived nearby (Boulder and Steamboat). Our small extended family kept us close. My older brother showed up from time to time bearing gifts (watermelons, ice cream, and truck stop oddities) and I never wanted for anything.
I never knew hunger or poverty, except in tales. I saw divorce, but I never witnessed it personally. I saw death, but with older family (grand and great-grandparents) it was a natural progression for loved ones who had lived good lives and been loved.
I lived a life without fear or adversity. When I graduated from high school, I did exactly what I should do to maintain that comfort. I moved my life in a safe direction. And I met with relative success, in the relative security of a life lived on the foundations built by my ancestors and my fellow Americans.
In other words, safe actions plus a lot of good luck meant I achieved relative success in my career. For this, I am grateful because many people in the world do not experience this type of luck and opportunity.
The thing is, to find happiness and to achieve our full potential in life, we need to break out of our comfort zone. We need to experience discomfort. Strength and lessons can come from encountering and conquering adversity. Building a career we love, to live a life we love, requires intention and a little discomfort along the path. Discomfort is okay. It is in fact normal.
Whether you live a life of luck or a life of difficulty. Whether you feel your life is blessed or cursed, we can all benefit from setting goals. And everyone should learn to step out of our comfort zone and visit the unfamiliar. If something makes us feel uncomfortable, rather than ignoring the discomfort, this is a perfect time to step back and try and identify the cause.
Learning from our discomfort teaches us about ourselves and about other people. To live a life we love, we must address the uncomfortable moments in our lives and open ourselves up to vulnerability. People who never learn to address discomfort end up addicts, jaded adults or generally content to live lives of “blah.”
Breaking out of the Comfort Zone
As I wrote about in my piece on Turning Points, after a time, I found myself content and secure, but unhappy. Does this sound like anyone you know? To find my happiness, I started to be more intentional with my life. And I did this, by intentionally breaking out of my comfort zone. I started to do things that scared me. I started to allow myself to be vulnerable. I quit a secure job to move overseas. The list goes on…!
Sometimes one of the greatest ways to learn about ourselves and to break out of our comfort zone is to travel. Maybe you need a gap year abroad. Perhaps you need a semester abroad. Maybe you just need to take a road trip over summer vacation. If you have not traveled much outside of your home time, I highly recommend hitting the road before you graduate from university. Ideally, overseas.
Read more about setting goals as a university student in Turning Points: Your Career Decision-Making Guide (3rd Edition)
I realize that a lot of what I am talking about here may just sound like a bunch of semantics and plays on words, but words and semantics are important. To achieve happiness and success in life, we need to know what we value. We need to make a distinction between what we value and what we think we should be doing. We need to set goals and live intentionally. We can’t just go with the flow because eventually we will either bump up against a damn or we will get lost at sea.
We need to understand our personality type and we need to embrace that type. You may may not find that your personality type is the same or very different from that of your parents or your key parental figures. Understanding the difference between extroverts versus introverts, thinkers versus sensors is useful not only personally, but also professionally. You need to know how you work so that you can work will with other people. You need to know how you work, so you can live a life you love.
Goals versus Intentions
To me, a goal is something that I want to achieve, whereas an intention is an action I take that aligns with my values and moves me towards my goals. When I divorced, I had no choice but to break out of my comfort zone and start stepping into things that caused me fear and uncertainty. Surprisingly, the hardest experience of my life (divorce) has ultimately brought me great happiness and deep personal awareness.
It has also opened up the possibility for me to experience great and abundant gratitude. I think that those who have watched me and who have been inspired by what I have achieved. The lesson learned here is that by setting goals and taking intentional actions, even adversity can be overcome and happiness found.
My overarching life goal is to live intentionally. I work each year on setting my personal, professional, and financial goals and I encourage you to do the same. Achieving goals and setting goals is not easy. First, you need to be honest with your current situation. Next, you need to know what you want to achieve and then you need to be able to visualize how you are going to get where you want to be. It takes more than simple intentions to achieve big: you won’t achieve your goals without a strategy, vision, follow-through, and intention.
Live a Life you Love: Goal Setting and Your Career
Many of us see employment as a way to make money to finance the things we like to do. I believe this is a big mistake. When you spend more of your time working than doing anything else, you really need to make sure that your work is aligned with your values and that you don’t work to live, but that you live to work.
Setting goals helps you to personally ensure that you live a life that you love and that you have the financial resources to do the things you love! Deciding what you want to study and why you are going to university or a trade school or any other career path is one of the most important decision and goals you can make.
Still feel stuck? Think You Need a Miracle?
Sometimes, we do need someone or something to kick us into action. A little miracle action. This is why step-by-step processes can be so useful. In 2011, after my divorce, I found myself in a funk. I loved my job, I loved my son, but I didn’t feel happy, and I couldn’t find my gratitude. Around this time, hot off the presses, May Cause Miracles, by Gabby Bernstein came across my path.
The book is structured so that each day you read a small “lesson” and then you set an intention. Truly, all it is is small, subtle shifts that change your mindset. At the end of 40 days, I’d rediscovered my purpose and I left for work each morning with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I understood all the little miracles in my daily life and how to create bigger miracles.
Set goals. Forget the “should I’s?” and instead lay out the steps that will allow you to follow your passion. If you are in a funk, take action to get out of that funk. Your life is yours alone to live, so live it well and honor yourself!
If you liked this piece, please discuss, comment and share!