I know how it feels to be stuck. But right when you feel like you’re in a hopeless place, it only means that something is about to happen. A breakthrough is around the corner. A new door is about to open. Finding purpose doesn’t always have an obvious or immediate destination. It’s way more important to feel that you’re doing what you love on a daily basis and persist, than being able to describe yourself as an executive director, mathematician or a painter by the age of 25.
Everyone’s life is unique but there’re certain things we all deal with
We all have our own personal life trajectories. We are raised differently, the education we receive varies from school to school and teacher to teacher and we inherit unique genetics from our parents. A combination of this makes us deal with life in our own way. No matter how close we are with our families and friends, no one else can walk in our shoes. Yet, despite the many differences between us, there are certain sensations all humans experience. Looking for one’s purpose is one of them.
Fulfilling our lives through what we do
For almost 30 years, I believed that the best way to manifest my life’s purpose was through my occupation. I mean, this shouldn’t come as a surprise for someone growing up in the European society. “What do you do?” is one of the first questions we ask when we meet someone new. We love rooting ourselves in our job titles. Job titles help us classify people around us and they usually closely correspond with how we project ourselves to the rest of the world. Our job titles are part of our identity. There’s no one to blame, we’re all equally guilty when it comes to reinforcing this behaviour. Whether this is healthy or not that could be a theme of another post but since the ‘career oriented life fulfilment mission’ is so prevalent and commonplace in many of our societies it’s time to question it.
It would be naive to think that at the age of 5 we decide what we want to do and stick to it for the rest of our lives. There are at least a couple of major rounds of career search that everyone goes through. Each of them comes with distinct challenges which, if not handled properly, can become a deal breaker. They can cause us never realising our potential and never truly living our life.
Finding one’s purpose: take one
When we’re kids we imagine ourselves as astronauts, nurses and superheros. That’s the first round of search we ever perform. Already by the age of 10, we’re thinking about what we like and we look for role models to imagine ourselves doing space travel and other things. But, wait! Social acceptance is bitch. Our parents and teachers know this and therefore, when it gets to choosing our career, they want us to pick the job that’s realistic, kicks ass and that wins more prestige than others. They do this for us, so that one day when someone asks us what we do, we’re perceived as successful, important and powerful rather than insignificant. Great. So we pick our sensible career path with the help of others and off we go.
Have you ever stopped and thought about the amount of impact people around you have had on your career choice? If you’re in your teens or twenties the odds are you’re doing something your parents wanted you to do, your teachers told you you were good at, your friends thought was cool or it was simply easily accessible (e.g. school available in your area). For some this might well be their purpose and that’s absolutely fantastic. But others might arrive at a point where they realise that what they do isn’t quite it.
Don’t stare at the closed door for too long
The good news is you can always look again. If you think you’re not really that excited about those excel sheets or sitting in a lab you can have a look around and, more importantly, look inside and ask yourself what excites you most right now. Don’t stare at the closed door for too long! If there’s a new door opening go all the way and embrace the new. Yay! You’re onto your next adventure. I know it sounds way easier than done, I know it because I’ve done it but I want you to know that once you’re decided there’s nothing that can stop you. Not even the challenge number two otherwise known as people hate change more than anything.
Finding one’s purpose: take two
How prepared are our societies for dancers who decided to take psychology degrees or lawyers who decided to become travel bloggers? People will think you’re crazy. They will say it to your face and they’ll talk about it behind your back. It definitely doesn’t help when you feel dazed and confused yourself but one thing is certain – The one and only failure in finding one’s purpose is to stop looking. There’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than a person who has come alive thanks to doing what they love. You cannot make others happy if you’re not happy yourself. People will always hate change. Like my brother every time when my mum came from hairdresser’s. He’d always say that the previous hairstyle was better. But it only takes a few moments for people to get used to the new and to even start liking it. Otherwise my bro would be always referring to the very first hairstyle my mum ever had. That’s not gonna happen.
It’s paradoxical really. Change is the essence of life. All living beings evolve and change every day, every second even. Rather than blocking and resisting change, learn how to embrace it. Understand the natural flow of things, know when to push, when to pull and when to drift. Change isn’t bad. Being the same person since birth until death is.
Taking charge of your purpose
Finding one’s purpose is hard work. It takes many tries, fails and it requires patience and compassion directed at no one else but ourselves. We’re all grown up now. It’s great that our parents helped us to make some of those important choices when we were young and that the society tried to fit us into its system. We should be grateful to everyone who has helped us on our way. But if you’re doubting your life right now, this might well be your opportunity. Start right where you stopped around the age of 5 when you really wanted to be that superhero. Grant yourself a look inside. There are exit doors from every hopeless place.