What is my purpose?
A question that has and continues to plague many of us. I have always wanted to know what I am meant to achieve in this life. What path “I am” supposed to take? Which career is right for me?
Not everyone will tie their purpose to their career. I do. I always believed that my career was the path I was destined for, where I would make the biggest impact, and feel fulfilled. I say believed because, honestly, I’m not sure if I still do. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I absolutely loved to draw. I would spend hours drawing face after face–each one a sketched out a story told through the figure’s eyes. However, the moment came to choose my GCSE’s, and I stared in utter disappointment to read that the course would cover shoes. Yes, shoes. At the time I thought well, perhaps art isn’t for me. Maybe I just didn’t get art, the way others did. I realize now that no, shoes were a strange topic and a niche one at that!
As my secondary years went on, I found myself growing more interested in my English classes. My many hours spent reading in the public library growing up had brought me into the world of fiction. With this love now ignited, I gave my all to the subject. And you know what, I was good at it. The positive feedback I received from my teachers was wonderful, and I truly felt I had found my thing. So, when the time came to choose a university degree–with art now completely out of the picture–I was convinced an English degree was the way to go.
I was wrong. I remember sitting in my school library, looking at the university degree website, scrolling aimlessly, and feeling lost. I refreshed the page and as expected, it flicked to the A section. Then, something caught my eye: Anthropology. Wondering what this strange word was, I clicked, and I knew I had found the course for me upon reading the overview of the subject. For the first time in my life, I didn’t listen to anything but my gut, and applied for Anthropology, hardly knowing what it entailed. I will never regret my choice. Anthropology taught me about the world, made me question every belief I held, and it became part of my journey of growth.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what this all means. I kept moving from one passion to another, with no real goal, right? Wrong. I was sure that if I was passionate about something, it was meant to be my career, and it was the answer to finding my life’s purpose.
There are two answers to this:
No, not everything that brings you joy is meant to hold a purpose. In fact, that is its purpose–to bring you joy. I realize now, that is what art is for me. It is what clears my mind and grounds me; it is what gives me happiness to recreate ideas, memories, and the beauty around me through my own experience. It is what allows for self-expression when words cannot express fully.
Yet, we can also answer with a yes. Once graduating from university and getting into charity work, I was torn between my passion for helping people and my dreams of being a writer. I chose the former, as it was fulfilling, and a more clearly marked career choice.
Yet, no role ever felt right. One question was, why did I keep pushing away writing as merely a hobby? Because I was a charity worker who had to help people. That was my purpose, and that’s who I was. My identity came wrapped up in what I thought was my purpose. I chose to overlook how the roles I was working in never truly felt right. I closed myself off from other possibilities, especially writing, which I thought would only serve me and not others. I thought it would be a selfish thing to pursue. What I had to do was realize that writing is also a part of my purpose.
Now, I’m not sure what’s changed. All I know is, I want to do something that brings me joy, but I also want to help people. I don’t know how these two things will come together, and I don’t need to know. Sometimes we must listen to our gut and give our dreams a chance.
It doesn’t have to mean letting go of other things that bring us happiness, or that we have to lose a part of our identity. It’s about giving ourselves the things that bring happiness–opening the doors we have been blind to.
Then, we just see where life takes us.