Written by Janelle Kopa
Living life on purpose means exploring with intentionality. Ninja Warrior athlete, Natalie Duran, found the key to personal happiness: purposefully following adventure. Her adventurous spirit flashed through countless Ninja Warrior courses: American Ninja Warrior seasons 5, 8, 9, 10 and Ninja vs Ninja season 1 and 2. With a degree in neuroscience from UCLA, this ninja studies the world inside and out. However, Natalie shares that self-discovery is really what life is all about.
Every day, every moment, we make a choice. We choose whether to follow our inner voice or to turn the volume low. Natalie explores her intuition, because it’s crucial to her identity. After striving to meet everyone’s expectations of who to be and how to live, she realized she wasn’t happy.
Expectations don’t erase emptiness; they create it.
You see, we trick ourselves into thinking everyone else knows best. But, when we chase after everything and everyone, we stop knowing ourselves. Natalie says, “I made a conscious decision to not let people’s opinions about me get to me.” Freeing herself from the expectations of others is the main reason Natalie says she overcomes failure and fully embraces happiness.
“Do something until it sparks something deep inside of you.”
Then relentlessly pursue that with your whole heart. Use that spark to light a flame that inspires others to find their fire. Finding your flame looks a lot like finding yourself. Cara says, “There’s value in really knowing yourself, knowing how you like to travel, how you like to operate, what makes you independent, and what makes you successful.” You’ve got one life so it’s 100% worth it to take the time now to intentionally seek out who you are and what matters to you.
Change the world by stepping into your purpose, not shying away from it.
Even if your inner demon wonders, Am I selfish for wanting to do my own thing? This thought has crossed my mind even when I take the time to work out each day that’s necessary to reach my ninja goals. I know by chasing determinedly after my dreams, I may not be spending as much time with friends and family as I could. However, Cara shares a unique and beautiful perspective for us to consider: “I can look at it like I’m being selfish, or I can look at it like this isn’t even supposed to be about me. If you’re giving your life to something positive and something good, there’s no shame in that.” Whatever your “thing” is, you can share that love with someone else; you can inspire them to dig deeper into their passion.
While you’re out there living life on purpose, surround yourself with positive people who make you feel alive. These people will push you to become the best version of yourself.
It’s going to be easier to seek after who you are by surrounding yourself with people who believe in finding the true you. Challenge yourself to cut out negative relationships in your life. If they aren’t building you up, they are only bringing you down. “You don’t realize the difference in living in a negative space and a positive space until you try and make a difference. There’s such a difference between people going after their life and people just living to get by.” Dedication to positivity will pay off, both in how you live and how you give to this world.
Natalie also advises us to align our agenda with adventure. She says, “Ninja puts you into a place where you’re forced to try new things and open up your mind. That’s how people change: when they put themselves out there. We don’t put ourselves in enough situations in which we are forced to change.”
Don’t let the expectation of finding a definition keep you from exploring.
Meaning, don’t cling to one permanent idea of who you are and what you like. Allow yourself to be creative in the exploration of life. Lay down any insecurity of failing and try something new. By forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you create a lifelong adventure.
Stop expecting, start exploring. You’ll find your spark along the way.