Are people nowadays as concerned with their life’s purpose as they were a century or two ago? (and by “people” I don’t refer to the philosophical elites who have always dedicated themselves to the human existence, since Antiquity at least). I wouldn’t know how to answer this question. Not sure it would matter, actually, as my peers definitely seem to have this anchor weighing down their necks, and it’s a common subject of interest in conversations.
How many times have you heard this “What are we doing here?”, “What am I doing with my life?”, “Where am I going?”, “Where do I see myself in this many years?” in your head? That’s right, you lost count. I lost count as well, but lately … intentionally. :) I’ll tell you why in a sec.
One’s life purpose can be a beacon of joy when “discovered”, and a pool of sadness and disappointment when “still digging” or “error 404 not found”. Not knowing it causes a great deal of anxiety, and that’s not good, folks, not healthy for us. I want to give my two cents here for people who perhaps might be rowing in the same boat as I am. Hey there!
I remember, vaguely, about the intensive Math classes I took in highschool. If there’s one principle that stood with me throughout the years (sorry, logarithms, calculus, and others), is that when you have a complex equation, what’s best is to break it down into simpler, smaller ones. Equating this to modern life purpose issues, if we have no clue how to solve the bigger picture … how about breaking it down into smaller, reachable “whatevers”?
In other words, when we’re absolutely lost, instead of trying to make sense of something bigger than us, the unknown, how about looking at the known, at what’s easy to figure out?
If the answer to the question “Do you see your life’s purpose somewhere down the road?” is HELL NO, then perhaps we should try another question. Sure, the way is unclear, blurry, we might not see anything at all. Instead of complaining that we can’t see the end destination, the last station of the journey, and then become intensively anxious because of it, what if we started looking at things we CAN actually see, or do something about? A more appropriate question, in this case, would be “But do you at least see a next step?”.
I genuinely think my life has become increasingly better since I have let go of this pressure. I am sure one day I’ll know, I’ll have an epiphany, or I’ll have a dream about it, and snap! That’ll be it! But until then, I’m taking small steps. I don’t know what the heck I’m going to do in 5 years, but maybe I know the next 6 months. That’s alright. And when I get there, I’ll look for the next one. As long as I enjoy the ride, and as long as I can be happy within this life’s biggest uncertainty (destiny, path, purpose, you name it), everything’s fine. Everyone has their own rhythm, their own way, and by comparing our struggle with others’ false impression that “they know, we don’t”, it’s just not helping.
I don’t want my journey to be a continuous source of stress for me. Rather, I aim for enjoying whatever I do, and then change that when I don’t enjoy it anymore. Hopefully, this will lead me somewhere. If not, well, we all die, right? :P I prefer using my energy to steer the boat to what I can / will do now and in the near future, and not on “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.”
So what if we don’t know? Let’s just know small things for starters, if we’re being preoccupied with it. Others might as well simply not care, and just live without any goal whatsoever, days going by. I go about living purposefully, not knowing what that is, but taking small, purposeful steps forward. The essential is to keep on moving, keep on experiencing, trying, drawing out conclusions, failing, but going forward. Not everyone’s been laid the goal of their life when they were kids. That’s FINE. Some people just know, or have known their entire lives. Some don’t. Some people have blonde hair, others are gingers. Yeah, cool.
What I’d like for us is not to be discouraged, or despairing, and not to stay still in a place of no action, with only thoughts. Sometimes, just thinking about stuff doesn’t lead one anywhere. Doing stuff might help more. After I’ve been in this process myself, I came to this idea that as long as we’re doing something about this “not knowing”, and preferably, doing something useful, focused, there should be no worry that we haven’t found our life’s purpose. We’ll get there, but we must work to it, that is. No work, no pork. :)) Lame joke. I meant no effort, no gain.