Finding Your Purpose: Where to Start?
Even the most put-together people you know will still have days when they feel lost and isolated. Some days we can’t remember the reason we do the things we do, why we do what we do, or even how. We wind up in this gray area where we can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, or which path we should follow. Essentially, we fall into a sense of drift. What this means is, we go through life “just drift[ing] along the tides and eventually f[i]nd ourselves here”, in a stagnant state, disappointed or have nothing to look forward to. Everyone has experienced this at least once, some people even have a life plan; and certain circumstances could prevent those people from following through with it. On the other hand, others may have no sense of direction or drive to even figure out where they’re going wrong, or what they’re doing right. Feeling this sense of drift can be interpreted in a way that it’s difficult to go through life when you feel you have no purpose in it.
It is often said that every life is worth living, and I agree— however, it is an unfair notion that we must act as if everything we experience throughout our life is not for the experience, but for our bigger purpose (which may or may not even exist). Many try to find their reason for simply being, and fail to do so. It’s understandable that an individual loses motivation in their current position, i.e.: a student, office worker, field worker, etc. It’s hard to admit, but we all have a shallow belief of why we do the things we do; we’d like to believe that our choices contribute to a bigger picture. We seek validation in our own passions to find the sense of purpose we lack, only to end up disappointed.
Speaking from personal experience, I do fall trap to this mainly because of how the media creates romanticized work/life lifestyles. Through TikTok edits of NYC fashion students waking up in their $3000/ month rent studio apartment, or a YouTuber who posts a 24 hour study with me video, I always find myself trying to measure up to them, as if they were a fantasy I was trying to achieve. No hate whatsoever to those types of people, I’d love to live the way they do. Nevertheless, I always fall short— and that’s because I know I truly don’t do anything to achieve the things I want. How does someone know what success looks like? Is it because of the money? The mindset? It isn’t as difficult to know if we’re on the right path as many may think.
According to Mind Body Green Mindfulness, here are a way ways to see if you’re on the “right track”, whatever that may be to you:
- You’re not doing things that make you uncomfortable.
- You’re not saying things you later apologize for.
- You don’t feel the need to compromise on the Big Deal Stuff.
- You feel your sense of value or worth and see it mirrored back by your environment.
- You’re confident in your choices and life (and aren’t afraid to say so).
And a few signs that you’re on the wrong path, but are still able to turn life around:
- The situation at hand is costing you your power.
- You feel drained. [Feeling] Tired is okay. Drained means depleted and that’s a red flag.
- You feel wildly confused about where your life is going.
- You are especially on the wrong path when you feel like you are “losing yourself” to a particular situation.
- If you find yourself saying “I can’t help feeling like I lost myself,” then you’ve probably betrayed yourself in some way.
We know we’re on the right track the moment we stop second guessing ourselves, and are willing to make mistakes, take more risks, without the fear of failing—because in my opinion, failure was a concept created to bring you success. Without the failures and the negatives, we would never grow or learn about ourselves in the way that is necessary.
If someone is still feeling lost, they must simply seek guidance. A bit of advice I can give is to not be so hard on yourself. A recent survey by the social network Linkagoal found that fear of failure plagued 31% of 1,083 adult respondents. It’s hard to believe that there are people who are more scared of failure than spiders or supernatural beings. Thus, your self-attacking, or self-destructive thoughts have no benefit in the long run. Instead, you could determine what steps you can take to achieve your goal, and then do it. Be reasonable, and don’t take on more than you can handle. Ultimately, if you want to see change, you should be willing to put in the work.
Many, such as I, are fortunate enough to be aware of what lessons need to be learned and what areas need to be changed— others don’t have the same privilege. Their failures may not have been directly to teach them, but to teach those who were watching, the ones who were observing. If you’re feeling alone, or confused in your life right now, just remember you have the power and will to change it. And if you don’t believe me on that part, remember that your hardship and maybe your pain, could be a lesson for somebody else.
Every emotion we associate with feeling “lost” was created in order to tell people there is a lesson in every experience, a story within every person, and a life behind every name. Embrace what came before, where you’re at now, and what comes next.