Defining the difference between “Meaning” and “Intent”. Seemingly interchangeable, as written in their said definitions above, meaning and intent may be two words that can be flipped, flopped, inserted, replaced, and used in each other’s places, unquestioned and unwavering. Because basically, they mean exactly the same thing, right? They are no different than the words “twelve” and “a dozen”, “soda” and “pop”, “sexy” and “David Beckham”…oh wait;) But you see where I’m coming from, you hopefully see what I’m getting at.
Recently, as I have been deeper exploring the world of being a Young Professional in my mid-twenties, I have actually come to realize that there is a very significant difference between the words “Meaning” and “Intent”. While everything has a “meaning” to it, a reason as to why something happened or occurred in the way that it did, Intent is actually a whole different animal, kept in a very different part of the zoo. Intent is a goal, it is an objective, it represents an end result. When you intend to do something, you intend to do it in a very particular and peculiar way in order to hopefully see a desired result. You want someone to feel a certain way, you want a desired reaction. It represents action, represents the conscious thought of making a decision to do one thing in order to make something else happen. There is of course meaning behind intent, and intent behind meaning, but that does not by any means group them into the same family.
Now, I’m sure you are wondering what exactly I’m trying to get at, what my “intent” behind all of this is. Well, to put it lightly and briefly (both of which are things I am not necessarily good at), I have begun to ask myself what exactly my intent is behind nearly everything in my life. Relationships, my career, volunteer opportunities, hobbies, and simply life as whole; what am I looking to get out of it, what am I looking to achieve?
While the meaning behind certain things may be clear as day, the ultimate, end all goal of it may be a little more sneaky to identify. Sure, the meaning behind me loving to travel, for instance, is because I want nothing more than to meet new people and hear new stories, but WHY do I love it? WHY does my heart beat a million times in a minute when I even think about jumping on a plane and exploring a new and completely foreign country? Therein, my friend, lies Intent.
A common theme amongst people my age is that no one really seems to know what they want, no one knows what their intent is. Everyone seems to be floating around aimless and sporadically, with no direction or understanding of which way is up. People are unhappy in their jobs, unhappy in their relationships or lack of, and unhappy with how unglamorous life has come to be. Yet, when asked what they want, what their intent for their life, job, relationship is, they fall short of coming up with an answer. Think of that scene in Willy Wonka, where Charlie and his grandpa are shot up in that zero gravity bubble capsule, but minus all of the bubbles. We all want to hold on to something, anything, that will stabilize us and keep us from floating around for an endless amount of time, but how can we anchor ourselves when we can’t even find the handles? How can we live with a purpose if we cannot even grip that purpose in the first place?
The same goes for relationships. When you find yourself in a new relationship, what are you looking to get out of that relationship? Are you looking for a life-long partner, someone that will share countless memories with you and will experience life with you every step of the way? Are you looking for someone to simply go out on the weekend with; someone to pass the time with, someone that is up for staying out until the wee hours of a Sunday morning? Maybe you are looking to get more connected, and want to meet someone who is a gatekeeper to endless professional connections. Whatever it is, there is always a reasoning as to what you are looking to achieve by having and keeping that person in your life.
Intent is dripping from everything we do. Every word spoken, every text message sent, every email received, every Facebook message posted and every tweet sent out begs for a reaction, pleads for a response. We speak words filled with love because the goal is to have someone feel safe and comfortable in our presence. Alternatively, our words are filled with hate, anger, and belittlement when our goal, our intention, is to have someone feel as if they mean nothing. Our intent in staying at a job we love is to work up the career ladder, becoming a leader in our given industry, and our intent at staying at a job that we may not be thrilled with is to gain experience to hopefully open up a door to something that we will love.
Behind every interaction, every relationship, every career move, and every lifestyle change, define your intention, define your goal. Do everything in your power to make sure every word spoken, every move made, every action and breath, speaks to that defined intention. Do not be afraid of knowing what you want, knowing what you want out of someone or something. Slowly, so slowly, you will find those grips of life that were hidden when you were floating, and the purpose and meaning of your life will reveal itself to you.
“In Any Given Moment, We Have Two Options: To Step Forward Into Growth or To Step Back Into Safety”