Lately I’ve seen quite a few posts on social media from people worried that they haven’t found their life purpose. The assumption is that we all “should” have a purpose. While I’m not saying that finding your purpose is wrong or bad, if you’re stressing out or worried about it, that’s probably creating a barrier to you finding it. For when you struggle to find something, you’re going to create more struggle and you’ll keep searching. When you compare yourself with other peoples’ versions of themselves, you can end up feeling you don’t measure up to their version of success. This is destructive to your own self. Self-love and acceptance are pre-requisites to finding your passions and purposes in life!
If we think about life in general, isn’t being happy the point of it all? What makes you happy may not be what makes another feel the same way. That’s the beauty of the diversity of our choices in life: there’s no “one size fits all.”
What makes you happy may change over time. What made you happy at age 7 might not be the same at age 47. What brightened your day yesterday may not be the thing that brightens it today. The journey of life serves us well in discovering our passions, in creating a life of joy, and following what may be more than one “purpose” in our lives.
In my own life, I have been aware of having many passions over time. Growing up, music was my life. I loved to sing and perform and thought I wanted to become a professional singer. I played the clarinet, and taught myself guitar and a bit of piano. I also loved to write and wrote poetry, songs and short stories. I loved theater as well and did every play and musical theater that was offered in my school. I loved taking pictures and photography and took many photos over the years. I loved learning languages, too, and ended up studying abroad twice in high school and once in college and eventually earning a degree in Spanish. I also loved discussing things and felt particularly drawn to politics and law. I also felt drawn to serving others which led to a Master’s degree in Counseling. I also dabbled working in the travel industry, and in elementary bilingual education, as well as in teaching English as a Second Language classes to high school aged kids and adults. I had a passion for learning, which led me back to pursue a doctoral program in International Comparative Education. I discovered from these experiences that I felt really “at home” in a university environment, to working with college students, and in the field of international education. In this journey, I became a mother of two children and that was the best thing that could ever happen in my life.
So is being in international education my purpose? Or did I miss out on a fulfilling singing career? Looking back on my professional career, I realize that I often followed my gut on what came next and I was happy in my choices. So I choose to look at this with no regrets. I choose to be happy right now. I choose to find happiness in the everyday moments because it makes me happy over time. The core of finding purpose and passion is not about the career we choose or the number of kids we have, but what makes us feel joy. If you follow the joy, you’ll discover your purpose (or two or three)! Life will be exciting!
Life is not meant to be planned out in detail and then struggle to make all of that happen. It just doesn’t work that way if you want to feel and be happy. While we can create intentions on what we want and visualize ourselves there, it’s so important to appreciate where we are right now for alignment in getting to where we want to be. When we appreciate, we find more good things that come our way and more to appreciate from it. In that journey, we may get inspired to do something else than what we originally intended. It’s all ok.
As you go through life appreciating, you will be inspired to follow certain paths. So follow your heart in what feels good to you. In the meantime, let’s find happiness in every day!