When I was little I used to want to be a mailman; rather, a mail-person. Something about gathering lots of envelopes, sorting them out, and delivering a handful of them house to house in a little mail truck appealed to me; it seemed orderly and official. The best part about this dream was I didn’t have any reason to want to do it except I knew I would have a great time being a mail-person.
Growing up in the conservative Christian subculture, however, I soon learned that doing a simple but enjoyable job was not the point. In fact, I learned that there was a point – and that point was that I had a purpose. I was destined for something, something that would change me, change the people around me, change the world. Something that would mark my impact in this life so that God would smile favorably upon me in the next.
Being something so lowly as a mail-person just didn’t fit in.
Neither did being a waitress, a lion-tamer, or a snake-catcher.
I needed to find my purpose. My actual life’s purpose. At least, that was the message that I got.
Throughout my high school years this became a grand virtue. All those other kids my age just wanted to spend their time rolling in the hedonism of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; but us Christian kids, we were going to rise above that. We were going to live lives full of meaning and aim for higher, more beautiful pursuits.
This affected our psyches rather negatively when we grew up and realized the world does not revolve around people who are looking for “purpose.” Why?
Trying to figure out what your purpose is wastes a lot of time and energy. Every time something valiant-sounding comes along we feel the need to pursue it, because it might be our purpose. Normal jobs and normal lives become a painful purgatory for whatever the Real Thing is. Sometimes we think we’ve found our life’s calling and then it turns out we might be wrong when the next big thing comes along. We constantly get that dreadful sinking feeling that we are not living up to our full potential, that we are letting someone down, even if it’s just ourselves.
Many people like to quote “Live like there’s no tomorrow!” – or, alternately, “Live like you were born today!” I think these are fine personal philosophies to have; however, I suppose my philosophy would be, “Just stop thinking about it already!”
There is no purpose. There is no why. There is only going out and doing what you do. Every day you have no choice but to simply become more yourself. Stop looking for what that should be and instead live in being who you are constantly becoming. Life just happens, but moreover you happen to life. You are who you are and it is what it is and you really can’t do much about it except what you’re already doing.
Once you learn to accept that you are here for absolutely no inherent reason, it isn’t as dreadful and hopeless as you think. It’s actually pretty cool, because you finally have the freedom of mind to see that you can do anything. You can love anybody, be anybody, do a million things with your life or just one.
What I want to tell everyone around me is this: stop. Stop spending your life trying to figure out what you are “supposed to be” doing. Stop asking “why am I here?” Good riddance! You don’t need to do anything about anything but simply live, do, love, achieve as you are in your own life. Best summed up in the words of Nike: “Just do it!”