Discovering My Guiding Values

 Photography by  Kenya Meon

Photography by Kenya Meon

A few weeks ago, while texting my friend, Brynn, we got onto the topic of purpose. We’re both black women in our mid-20s, call Atlanta home, and consider ourselves to be creative souls. Yet, we’ve recently been challenged to think about our purpose in life and where we’re meant to be. Mid-conversation, Brynn asked, “What’s your biggest fear/concern?” to which I responded, “The idea of not ever figuring it out.”

Yet after I typed out my response, I acknowledged that figuring out my purpose isn’t something that will happen overnight; it requires self reflection, digging deep and hard work. As a part of that realization, I recently sat down and identified my top 5 guiding values using this guide. Here’s what I discovered:

COMMUNITY

For me, this means that I’m most happy when surrounded by positive, warm and loving friends and family. When I actively nurture these relationships, they help me to better define my sense of place in the world and encourage me to grow as an individual. Having a community grounds me and helps me to feel steady + rooted. When that community is also physically present (though online community and long-distance relationships are also incredibly valuable to me) I often feel even more secure, as spending quality time with folks, even if just to hang out and do nothing, feels really special.

Similarly, building up my spiritual community and working on daily communion + prayer has provided me with a sense of peace beyond what I’ve ever experienced. Discussing spiritual texts with my Mama, praying with Jeremiah and learning Biblical stories and anecdotes from my Dad are all ways that I remain connected and committed to learning and growing my spiritual self.

BALANCE

This is a big one and often the most difficult to achieve. Essentially, this breaks down into staying on top of my mental, spiritual and physical health and committing to a career that allows a work-life balance. While working is a necessary element of life, I want to make sure that I always have time to take care of my own needs as well. There have been times that I’ve sacrificed my mental, physical and spiritual health for a job, and while the paycheck has been wonderful, the repercussions haven’t. I remain my best self when I have time to water all of the important areas of my life, and as I get older and begin thinking about building a family, this will become all the more important.

AUTHENTICITY

I want to always express gratitude, give love, remain kind and be self-reflective. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind or the social media comparison trap. For me, remaining authentic means that I’m working toward being my best self at all times — whether in public or private. Authenticity means that if someone were to remove all of the outside elements of my life — my job, my home, my fiancé, etc. — underneath, they’d still find a woman with a drive, confidence and passion for life.

ADVENTURE

Adventure means being excited about the life I’m living. I want to do purpose driven work. How can I change the world? How can I affect someone’s life for the better? I want to travel to places I’ve only dreamed of. I want to push myself to achieve and accomplish any/every goal I set my mind to. I want to always think about the next big thing and how to get there and how to make it a reality. So often, it’s easy to become caught up in the day-to-day grind, and I want to always remain open to adventure, in whatever form it takes.

FREEDOM

I want to live a free-spirited and carefree life filled with beauty; that means that remaining free, in all areas. I’m working toward being debt-free and gaining financial freedom, which requires working hard to pay off my student loans, so that my income can be used toward travel, family, etc. In the future, this might mean making sure that I remain practical and don’t take on debt that doesn’t give me much wiggle-room to live the life I want to live.


Tell me — if you had to identify 5 guiding values, what would they be? Do they come easily to you or are they something that require a lot of thought?

Leave a comment below and let me know. xx