For Those Who Search For Purpose
I’ve received a few emails and comments from some of you asking, “But what if I don’t know what my purpose is?”
I’ve been wanting to answer this for awhile, but I’ve delayed because it’s meaty, complex. Frankly, it’s hard to answer.
I’ve read a lot of books about finding one’s purpose. If you’re searching, you should too. I’ve stewed and chewed on this for a long time.
I don’t have the right answer, just the way I see it. It’s all I can offer. Here goes.
To begin fulfilling my purpose I first had to believe I was given certain gifts so that I could love and serve others with them. Loving and serving others with our gifts, in my mind, is living our life’s purpose.
What are your gifts? What feels natural to you?
Mine isn’t math, patience or wearing high heels, in case you were wondering.
Write them down. Surprise yourself. Don’t let fear or a low self-esteem take your pen. Be honest about your gifts. It’s important.
Don’t assume a natural gift is the same as being a master. Although I may be naturally good at a few things, I’ve mastered nothing. Mastering requires sharpening your gifts. Practice. Sweat. Bruises. Lots of them. Mastering takes a lifetime. The process can fulfill you, possess you or oppress you. Or you can ignore your gifts completely. All of those choices are yours to make.
One of my gifts is singing like Adele. If she has bronchitis. With throat nodules. I can write, but I’m also pretty good at drawing and painting. I can make people laugh. I’m compassionate, good at listening and helping people feel better. I use those gifts interchangeably in life and if there’s need. Out of all of those natural talents, however, I’ve decided to master humor writing. Someday I may change my mind or redirect my focus. It’s ok.
It’s ok because our purpose is a lifestyle, not a lightening bolt. It isn’t one thing, it’s the way we live our life. It guides the choices we make, the things we think and the dreams we chase. It’s becoming the fullest expression of who we are meant to be.
But gifts are just a piece of a bigger puzzle. If our gifts are the tools we use, then passion is the fuel. It’s what drives us to our heart’s desire.
Our brain tries to enroll us in law school when our heart wants to start a non-profit. It’s our brain that thinks it’s ok to spend years doing what you hate for a paycheck it loves. Follow the heart. It knows what you’re supposed to love.
So then the question is, what do you love? It will leave crumbs. We’re drawn to what we love. We think about what we love. We spend time and money on what we love. That’s often defined as our passion.
We can have many passions. Our passions can change.
I worked closely with college students for several years. I received my Master’s degree and wrote a thesis on the sexual behaviors of young women and self-esteem. I was passionate about that then – I was able to help young women with my research.
Now I’m passionate about humor writing. Life is weird. Embrace it. Never judge it. Even mistakes can be disguised blessings.
When our passion needs our gifts to thrive, stars seem to align in miraculous ways.
But, let’s be clear: our purpose isn’t selfish. It’s never at someone’s expense, it’s at their service.
It won’t leave a loving spouse for a micro-studio in Manhattan. It doesn’t abandon children with an aunt. It pays bills and honors commitments.
It’s patient. Don’t panic.
It’s also waiting for you to get your crap together. Don’t stall.
But what if you don’t know what your gifts are or you don’t know what you love?
Be quiet. Listen.
Are you afraid? Fear lies and it’s loud about it too.
I prayed. A lot. Don’t chase the answers in a frenzy, let it come to you gently.
Never fear your gifts are not enough or what you love is a silly pursuit.
They are both perfectly designed for you, at this moment.
The path is not always obvious. That’s the torturous part of the learning. Lean into the unknowing and trust yourself to figure it out.
You will. The world needs you to become who you were meant to be.
So in this way, you must.
This is how I see it. I hope it helps.