Am I There Yet?: Finding Passion and Purpose

Am I there yet? Are we there yet? These are the questions that echo in my head as I look at myself in the mirror. It’s funny, for 16 years of your life you are told that hard work will result in two very important things: success and fulfillment. You are instructed that to graduate from college is to make you one step closer to achieving your dreams, which may or may not include returning to school for additional study.

For the majority of those years – approximately 12 years to be exact – you learn from others about history, subjects of interest, and subjects of little interest, of which you are supposed to figure out where you fit in the scheme of things. You’re constantly bombarded with questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What’s your five-year plan?” and are fed images or templates of what success could look and feel like for you. It’s only every now and then that you may hear a wise elder or inspiring teacher ask, “What makes you excited?” or “What are you passionate about?”

So why after almost two decades of education do many people end up with mid-life crises? I think it has a lot do with what we are not being taught in schools – to be led by passion. Whether or not you come from a family of luxury or a working culture, it isn’t necessarily a definite indicator of whether you are schooled in passion or not. But, what I do think it may speak to is whether you are enabled or feel entitled to pursue things that you are passionate about. If you come from a household that has had to work hard to attain wealth – or still haven’t attained wealth for that matter – school and education simply align as utilitarian means of achieving a better life for you and your family. In many cases, this may cause you to choose financial success over passion which has been “hushed” into submission and banished to the “corner” until you have achieved your “adult” outcomes.

At this point in my life, I find myself constantly wondering, “Where can I find my passion and how close am I to finding it?” Do I need to take another trip back to the South to sit down with an elder to be schooled or do I need to surround myself with friends that are going through the same dilemma as myself?  I’ve even  considered speaking to people that appear to have figured out their passion, thereby understanding their purpose in the world, hoping it might provide insight on my own. I have struggled through all options and none of them worked. Instead, I became more frustrated as each conversation only led to more questions and fewer answers.

So, what have I learned and what’s the point of this post?  Put simply, I learned that it starts with you.  Every question that you feel the need to ask someone, ask yourself first. Treat yourself as the patient and be the therapist, staying devoted to asking questions until you find the answers.

“This is pointless and I don’t think it’s going to get me anywhere” is what I said to myself out of frustration after searching in vain for answers from others. But, when I kept at it my mind, body, and soul began to make sense of all of the advice that others had given me, which boiled down to one truth: if you have to look for others to answer questions about yourself, you don’t really want to know the answer. The true way to find your direction, your passion, and your purpose is to start from within and once you have done that, you will be better situated to listen and see everything around you. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will find your passion or purpose overnight, after all, what’s the point in living if you can surmise life’s purpose in 24 hours. But, it does mean that you can live life with your eyes open and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. That’s my two cents on passion and purpose.

Cheers to deep discoveries, everyday epiphanies, and starting with you!