“Now the years are rolling by me,
They are rocking evenly;
I am older than I once was,
And younger than I’ll be
That’s not unusual.”
– Missing Verse from Simon & Garfunkel’s The Boxer
This blog began as a way of finding my own purpose. I wanted to find out how I can make a difference in this world, and I was frustrated with wandering mindlessly without any surety of whether I was making a deeper connection or not.
As this blog is solely tailored around my interest in gender equality and the history of women’s suffrage, you might wonder what this has to do with finding purpose? Let me try to explain:
We tend to at people we consider ‘successful’ in order to give us an idea of what purpose looks like. A-list celebrities like Beyonce and Emma Watson, political players like Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai, and even well-known philanthropists and Olympians. I envy them. I want what they have. Not fame, but a love for what they do. A sense of direction and thirst to achieve great things. A complete fulfillment in their careers. A superhero mentality that says ‘I can and I will save the world’.
With this in mind, we often determine success based on the jobs we have, how much we are paid, or what we are doing with our lives. For me, my talents seemed to have directed me towards a humble path, and one – I admit – isn’t my definition of success. I feel bored with working in a big institution. I want to make a difference on a global scale, and there is no opportunity within the career path I am on.
I struggled initially to understand what purpose was. What does it look like? How do I know that I’ve achieved it? Do I need to be a Great Person in order to find my purpose? I eventually resigned to the fact that searching specifically for my purpose was not going to help me find it. I had to look in other ways. I had to act in other ways. And that’s when I realised:
Purpose isn’t a ‘thing’ you achieve at the end of the road. Purpose is something you discover along the way. You find it through passion. Not through logic. Through the heart, not the head.
All those blogs and aspirational speakers who encourage you to quit your corporate job and dedicate your lives to your passions? I used to think that mentality was risky and irresponsible and didn’t work for everyone. But it’s true. The happiest people are the people who find something they really want to do with their lives and make it happen.
I agree that you can’t do anything at half speed. You can only be happy if you’re doing it with passion, conviction and enthusiasm. I’ve often faced criticism for this, because my desire for stimulation leads to the abandoning of projects if I’m not fully invested, set plans or even relationships. But I’ve found myself stuck in positions where I’ve settled for lukewarm and it made me miserable! I would constantly be trying to convince myself that whatever it was I was doing was worth pursuing. But these days, I fear that I won’t achieve perfect, incandescent, utopian happiness until I’ve met my life’s purpose. My problem is, I have no idea what my purpose is.
What I’ve grown to learn however, is that you can find your true passion outside of your career. Your job does not have to define you. And that is something I’ve taken a long time to discover, while I’ve been constantly comparing myself with my successful and wealthy peers who are saving lives as doctors, or travelling the world to raise awareness of people with disabilities, or winning all their legal battles on behalf of important clients, or generally contributing to society in meaningful ways, I should never be so arrogant to presume that my job title is going to define my purpose. What defines my purpose are my passions. And one of my biggest passions is Gender Equality.
So this is why I took it upon myself to start a blog – a way of actioning and taking ownership of something I had been interested in for a long time but hadn’t really committed to. Coupling this with design – which I love, and talking – which I enjoy. It also helps keep me busy and happy, so I don’t spiral into boredom or unfulfillment with my small-town life. In one way or another, this blog has also become my ongoing manifesto.
Ideally, my blogging would give some straightforward understanding of what I was put on earth to do. Perhaps it won’t. But at the end of the day, at least I can say I tried to do something valuable with the convictions that I hold. And then if nothing eventuates from it – it was never my purpose to begin with. You can only know by trying.