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  • Writer's pictureJordan Hogan

Follow Your Bliss

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

I have never done anything for the pure bliss of it. Like most of us, my whole life has been based on this idea that I have to work hard, and then push my body, mind, and spirit past the breaking point in order to find success, passion, fulfillment, fame, and fortune.

I never understood the concept of doing something for the joy of it. Of course, during my career as a competitive figure skater, I had incredible, sparkling moments of feeling like I was flying. I still dream about these moments of being alone in an ice rink, so cold my breath escaped in plumes as I pushed my body across the ice. I was always alone when I felt this otherworldly force take over, felt my arms become wings and my heart soar away from everything that felt so raw and broken in my life.

The rink would be so quiet, and I could finally hear the whispers of my soul amid the much louder, constant chatter and pressure coming from the mouths of those around me. In these fleeting breaths of life, the still small voice spoke within me. Even amidst an existence that felt like being trapped in a prison cell, waiting for some kind of salvation, my heart wanted to fly.

Aside from these heavenly glimpses of divine joy, someone was always watching me, judging me, evaluating the weight of my prepubescent body or the strength of the muscles that could not find enough nutrition or sleep, thanks to an eating disorder and a not-so-healthy dose of insomnia. There was no escape. But maybe it was the joy that kept me going. Or maybe it was simply the need to make sure I was safe and the only way to ensure safety and what I thought was love from every person in my life was to fucking succeed. Suck it up, push past the pain. Be a tiger and fight like hell until your last breath, or until your body finally breaks at the ripe old age of 16.


Things were accomplished out of trauma responses, sheer willpower, and the complete conviction that if I could stand atop that Olympic podium like all of the judges, coaches, and parents had predicted since my indoctrination into the world of an athlete at five years old, I would finally find the peace I craved so furiously.


They will tell you I chose it. They’ll say that I begged to go back to the rink after that first day. I’m sure that’s true, but I also know that five-year-olds, ten-year-olds, or 15-year-olds don’t generally have the best ideas about what’s best for the well-being of their bodies, minds, or blossoming spirits. That is, after all, what parents are there for. To teach us the difference between killing ourselves in an attempt at success and doing something because we love it or because we feel drawn to it.


I have never done something because my soul felt pulled to. I have written off every single thing that pulled on my heart. I have ignored each time my soul quietly tried to pull me in the direction of love by whispering, “See what’s over this way.” It all seemed futile and purposeless and would certainly leave me in a box on the corner begging for money, or so I was programmed to believe. In another twist of irony, I basically landed there anyway, after 20 years of trying to accomplish all the right things, following all the rules, and prepping myself for the limelight and fame. Instead, I ended up addicted and completely alone, devoid of sanity, joy, friendship, or the thing I had been chasing all along- Love.


I pumped toxic levels of narcotics into my still inadequately developed brain and body for years at a rate that could send an elephant to an early burial. I did all of this in an attempt to numb the terrified panic that bubbled to the surface of my life every time I realized I had failed massively at the only thing that I was ever supposed to do or be, and to escape from the fact that failing as an athlete inevitably meant that I had failed as a daughter, student, and had done a fairly awful job of becoming worthy of love or life itself.


I then tried to sing. I took the one thing I still found some joy in and tried to make it seem profitable to those still barely managing to tolerate me as a part of their lives in one last-ditch effort to be rich and famous. Then my parents would surely love me. If the world loved me, it wouldn’t matter if I was hopelessly lonely and lost. It would all be worth it and they would tell you so in my numerous fame-filled interviews and memoirs.


When trying to monetize the last thing I could think of did not immediately make me rich and famous and fell by the wayside in a smoldering pile of shit along with the rest of my life, I succumbed to the hellish depths of my addiction at the age of 23. And I waited. I waited like a hopelessly forgotten lover, with her shattered heart in her scarred and bleeding hands. I prayed to whatever concept of god I had in my drug-induced fog, whatever higher being was still keeping me in this self-imposed hellscape to give me that blessed moment when my body would give in once and for all. I prayed to die all the time. I prayed for the only bliss or beacon of hope I could fathom anymore- the moment when my breath would stop and my muscles would cramp for the last time and I could be free of this life that I had squandered.


Now, I believe that at the end of my active addiction, I was lying in a veritable gutter staring death in the eye because of a body and brain that were naturally predetermined to crave an escape. And through an unfortunate mixture of genetics, childhood trauma, and a highly sensitive nature, I became a statistic. However, it is not lost on me that this fall into the darkest abyss I’ve ever known before my frontal lobe had even fully developed was also largely due to the fact that I was completely convinced that I had failed at everything that mattered in life. I believed that I had followed my bliss because everyone else said that I was and in doing so, I had not acquired what was promised- fame, fortune, success, admiration, and the love of literally everyone.


Somewhere along the way, I had been cursed with this idea that following the things we love means doing what other people tell us we should love. That success would be the result of skating for seven hours a day, killing my body and engaging in daily self-injury of my brain. And that success would make killing myself and silencing my heart worth it. Because at the end of the success, the results of my self-mutilation, would be what? You guessed it. Love. Peace. Bliss. I would be happy.


When my life refused to take the path that I kept forcing upon it, when killing myself and enduring endless abuse from every adult in my life surprisingly did not produce the results of peace and joy and fuzzy feelings, I simply did not know what else to do besides actively try and poison myself on a daily basis, year after year.


Spoiler Alert: You are worthy, loved, and at peace in the very instant you realize, with your whole heart, that you are worthy and loved. Not a moment sooner. I am so grateful I lived long enough to realize this. So many of those beautiful souls who have died at the hands of addiction and a societal obsession with unattainable perfection have not been given this chance. Each of them sits on my heart, as I know all too well the darkness they are trying to escape from.


Anyway, much to my surprise and irritation, this bothersome warrior of a body just kept on fighting. It fought through anxiety, depression, addiction, crazy concoctions of drugs and alcohol, malnutrition, and pain. It kept going, long after the will to carry on had left the mind and soul of its owner. This body kept fighting. It kept fighting for the chance to fulfill a purpose and to experience doing something for pure, unadulterated bliss, instead of as a means to a famous end.


I am now pushing 40, and today I wrote. Because it brings me joy and makes my soul fly like it’s the only one in that cold ice arena again. I went outside and took pictures because it felt beautiful to my heart and not because I was trying to accomplish something, get famous, or find safety and love. I did it because it felt beautiful and it felt like freedom and it felt like BLISS. Like I was making a choice that the little girl in her first pair of figure skates couldn’t make. I was making a choice to be free and to experience the love of the universal divinity within. It has taken me 37 years to realize that there is no amount of money, fame, or material “success” that can produce that kind of love, safety, or pure unadulterated joy.

This is what I know to be true, after all of these years.


Your purpose lies quietly in the gifts placed upon your heart. In the things that you often write off as silly, or a waste of time. Your dreams don’t scream, they don’t attempt to make themselves heard above the raucous societal chatter, or the endless to-do lists that your mind thinks if accomplished will settle your restless spirit. Your wishes don’t force you to commit to their norms, they don’t advertise to you in gorgeous, expensive marketing endeavors rehearsed by impossibly pretty humans.


Your dreams whisper. They are the still, small voice. They implore you softly, nudging you like a spring breeze caressing your skin. By causing your whole being to light up at the mere mention of them. They are quiet, which makes them easier to write off, push to the side, and put off until later. Much later. Because your to-do list will never be complete, your house will never be clean enough, and your level of motherhood will never make the cut in your mind. You will never have enough money or a big enough house. You will never have enough to quiet the noise in order to hear the whispers of your soul.


What would happen if we just started to listen? What would happen if instead of numbing the call of our spirit with things outside of ourselves, we just paused for a moment to find out what it was these beautiful souls of ours were softly begging for?



If you’ve made it this far and are still here with me, take this as your sign. Stop. Breathe.

Ask your heart, “What lights you up inside, my love? What makes you feel like you’re flying?”

Listen.

And then.

DO. THAT. THING.

It might just change your life.

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