“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”

Last month, I stood on stage in front of a theater full of accomplished businesspeople, activists, doctors, and influencers and shared that as an educated, professional woman, I enjoy playing with clothes. I may not have used those exact words, but still, the admission of this as a passion was quite a departure from anything I’d ever shared publicly in a professional space. I mean, I’m Chris the writer. The communications gal who’s studied how to craft and share messages for corporations and nonprofits. Surely, a fledgling passion for clothing and style seemed a flighty tangent.

This admission happened in a very public moment of sharing at a one-day conference that invited attendees to dive into their purposes and identify the what and why of their professional and personal lives. Albeit a bit scary, my sharing was a freeing and honest moment, and as I heard and watched myself come to terms with a very true part of me, I was both proud and terrified.

I shared my personal purpose statement in part because I was asked to, but also, because I felt strongly that this was a moment that would welcome accountability.  In front of friends and strangers, I shared about the thing that quietly made me tick. I read my statement aloud.  The facilitator asked me more probing questions and on the spot, I experienced a catalytic moment with myself.

Now let’s be clear. There is absolutely nothing to shun about enjoying clothes or fashion and being passionately creative in that space. Many a wildly successful executives have made their marks (and fortunes) in the business of clothing. Within my own circle, I have friends and colleagues who understand that fashion and beauty has always been a part of ‘my thing’, but it’s never been something that I felt completely comfortable owning as anything more than a hobby.

I’m a bit of a Type-A, overachieving striver. Also a middle-ish child. So I’ve spent much of my life closely aligning identity, purpose, goodness and worth with ‘noble’ things: good grades, academic awards, and  career goals that justify my college education.

But what I’ve found is that purpose doesn’t necessarily mean logic, education or justification at all. It isn’t merely accomplishment or accolades or meeting expectations. It’s utilizing what God has given me—to do the work that only I can do.

My appreciation for, and joy found in exploring fashion is an honest part of who am. It always has been.  Tucking it away as a purposeless pastime seemed to have been denying myself the experience of embracing one of the things that makes me feel most alive.

So what does this all mean with respect to rocking my purpose? It’s meant that I am driven to accept new things about myself. I’ve allowed myself the space and grace to change and connect with who and how I was made. Doing that has granted me the freedom to dream, explore and connect with my gifts, the passion that powers those gifts and the ultimate purpose for which those gifts can and will be used.

A woman approached me after my stage moment. Said that she noticed the way I was dressed before I even began to speak, and without knowing me, knew that there was something to my story. She shared about her mentorship program, and we discussed what it could mean to help young women with challenging experiences prepare for the next stages of their lives by helping them learn to dress and present themselves well. The brief exchange fired me up. I walked away from the conversation with such affirmation and motivation to dig deeply and find ways I might create meaningful experiences for myself and others…all while playing with clothes.

One of the reasons BELONG is so necessary is because we believe that every woman should understand who they are designed to be and what they were created for. The answer may not be what you always thought it would be, and that’s perfectly okay. We want so much for you to come, dive in, discover and DREAM. You owe that to yourself and those who will be touched by your gift. It’s our hope that you, too, will discover that special passion that fuels you (maybe one you’ve been carrying with you—hidden—all along) and begin to understand how using it can make a world of difference.