In Conversation with Lyra Reyes, a writer at e27, Asia's largest tech media platform. Lyra frequently writes the morning editor's note to the readers of e27 - her real, relatable and life / wellbeing-centric musings was what first attracted our own Founder, Jas to reach out to her.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, investor, in a startup environment or a busy bee, read on to be inspired by Lyra's journey and actionable steps for you to start discovering & living your purpose.
"I really think we are never too young to discuss purpose...It’s also possible that my purpose could have evolved. Because I also think that we’re not limited to just one purpose."
"Living the life I am intended to live" - What is your purpose? What would you like your impact to be?
I’ve always believed that the world needs storytellers. Because if you think about it, how much of the world’s knowledge do we know because of its stories? What’s more, the world needs storytellers that tell the kind of stories that allow people to reach out across barriers.
Businesses, for example, need storytellers that bridges the gap between them and the people who would benefit greatly from their services. Governments need storytellers that would allow them to connect with the people that they serve.
That is how I want my impact to be. To be the kind of storyteller that compels people to reach out to others and do something that creates an even bigger and better impact.
How has this purpose evolved over the years?
I grew up in a family of professionals - nurses, engineers, teachers, lawyers - and I had a fairly difficult time trying to figure out what it is that I want. It also doesn’t help that I enjoy learning about so many things; it helps that I know a lot of random things like logistics or skincare or beer fermentation or urban planning, but I was never sure if what currently holds my interest is just a passing phase or not. So I considered many things - being a lawyer, starting a business, being a teacher - and it wasn’t until I was 27 when I really took the time to focus and determine what I want to do.
At first it was simple: I just want to write. But as I continue to hone my skills, as I continue to interact with other people and observe how the world changes, that desire to simply write has evolved into wanting to tell the stories that connect people. Because it’s easy to tell stories that inspire. It’s easy to tell stories that pull out emotions from people. But it’s a bit more difficult to tell stories that compel people to reach out and connect with each other.
Some people view seeking purpose as something for the 'privileged', or being 'too young' to discuss purpose. What do your views on these?
I really think we are never too young to discuss purpose. I’m imagining if I started actually actively seeking my purpose at a young age, I may have determined it earlier and could have done more. It’s also possible that my purpose could have evolved. Because I also think that we’re not limited to just one purpose. This life is both long and short depending on how you look at it, and it seems counterproductive to focus on just one thing and ignore other aspects where we can create a huge positive impact.
Now on the question of privilege, I’d have to agree that the privileged may find it easier to actively seek their purpose. People who have access to education have more options to explore compared to those who don’t. People who earn more have access to better opportunities than those who earn less.
For example, it took me a few years to transition into writing because I can’t afford to leave the job that earns me my living. I was given a chance by someone more privileged than I am to make that transition, which is how it should be. I would always be more privileged than someone and less privileged than another. I think it is the job of those who have more to create opportunities for those who have less - in all aspects of life, including opportunities to seek and realise their purpose.
What do you think is the key factor that shaped your choices & outlook towards life?
It’s both how I was brought up and the accumulation of my experiences & what I’ve learned. My family has always encouraged learning. I’m a an avid reader of anything interesting I can get my hands on and I grew up believing that everything I need to know, I could read about.
What are some questions individuals can think about when they are feeling lost on their own journeys?
I think the first question should be “what good could come out of being lost?”. Because people can be so intent on their destination that they don’t realise that sometimes getting lost is not always a bad thing. I’ve been lost countless of times on my journey and I find that every time I do, I discover a facet to myself that I either didn’t know before or that I didn’t take time to notice.
The second would be: “is this me actually being lost or is this me correcting my path?”. People and circumstances change - it did for me - and sometimes what we think as being lost is actually you going off into your next path.
And lastly, “what can I take from this episode if my life that would benefit me in my journey?”. Call me idealistic or optimistic but I really believe that there has to be something good we can take from everything we go through, no matter how small.
What are some of your favorite go-to sources for inspiration with regards to wellbeing?
I have several, most of them on social media. Catherine Connors’ Instagram feed (@herbadmother) is a wonderful discovery. Her delight in her life and in nature inspires me to see the beauty in every little things and reminds me how minuscule yet important I am in the bigger picture.
Free climber Alex Honnold has always been an inspiration to me when it comes to disciplining your body to achieve great things. The life he has chosen is pretty high risk, and he has honed his body and his mental capacity to fit that life.
Lauren Singer never fails to inspire me to live clean not just for my own sake but for the environment. Her discipline in maintaining an overall well-being despite the difficulties is something I want to emulate.
Whenever I find things becoming too difficult, I pull myself back and think what these people would have done in my place. Then I realise I’m being a wimp and that I can do better. Haha
What is your healthy ritual? Are there any productivity tools that you use?
The past 2 years I have focused mainly on my mental and emotional well-being. After a bit of slump, I decided to change some habits. I learned how to meditate and began practicing that daily. I began writing in a personal journal (I used to write this manually but now use Day One for the convenience). I find that it helps me detach for a little bit, and see things from a fresher perspective.
Just recently, I’ve also begun to put more effort into my physical well-being and started going to the gym at least 3 times a week. It’s a difficult habit to form - I admit I am still struggling with it - but it’s something that I know would pay off. As much as I loathe to admit it, putting in an hour at the gym makes my mind clearer and keeps me more relaxed, on top of all the physical health benefits it brings.
And because I write all day, it means I’m staring at a screen the whole day, which sometimes causes headaches for me. So I make it a point to set alarms to take a 30 minute rest every 2 hours.
Anything that you're looking to improve on a personal front?
There are many things I want to improve on and the first thing that comes to mind is becoming more consistent in my fitness habits (which currently is less of a habit and more of a chore for me). I also want to be more involved in my communities as I tend to be a bit reclusive at times. Plus of course some various skills I’ve been planning on learning like speaking Spanish and riding a bike and free-diving.
From the people you've interacted with in your various roles, do you think they are generally well vs. the hustle mentality at all costs?
The hustle mentality is dangerous when it’s not managed. I remember saying before that working hard to change the world is an amazing goal but just make sure you’re actually around to enjoy the results of your hard work. I think that a lot of people in the community has suffered in some way - getting ill, neglecting relationships - because of the hustle mentality, but I do also believe that there is a growing consciousness within the community about the importance taking care of oneself.
After all, how can you change the world if you don’t have the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities to build and sustain the ideas that you want to bring to life?
It’s good to hustle. I’ll even go so far as say that we need to hustle, especially with the speed that the world is changing and moving now - we need to catch up! But not to the extent that we sacrifice our well-being. I’ve always believed that it’s better to live a long full life having done many things that create impact than be known as that guy who burnt out, or worse died, young after creating one single thing.
Any specific theme which particularly intrigues you at this point in time?
I’m really very interested in mental health. I think that it is a topic that needs to be explored and discussed but because there is a huge stigma surrounding it, it’s not done well.
Mental health is one issue that not only has been stigmatised as whole, but has also created divisions (e.g. it’s somewhat acceptable for women to receive help in the form of therapy, but when men do they may be deemed as weak). I’ve personally heard of a few in the medical profession who are dismissive about it, which is actually much worse.
I think that we all have to be aware of mental health issues and how they are developed and how they affect the daily lives of people - whether they are the ones with these mental health issues or not.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not just our physical bodies that need to be able to cope and catch up. We have to ensure our mental well-being, too.
Join #teambusywoman in 2018 to explore the topic on resilience - to raise your self-awareness and build on that mental strength to bounce back quicker from challenges.
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