Monthly Archives: April 2015

On Purpose

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!”

The Last Month of My First Semester

I had the idea that going back to school would take up pretty much all of my time, and I think I was right.  Granted, I am pretty certain that a lot of my time spent “working on school”has been more accurately spent “looking like I am working on school, and indeed kind of working on it, but mostly procrastinating… really thoughtful procrastinating.”

This semester I am taking Developmental Psychology, Cultural Anthropology, Public Speaking, and Research Writing in the Disciplines – this last one being the second-semester first-year English class that I already took back at Wake Tech as “Literary Research Writing,” but that was apparently such a long time ago that standards have changed and it now counts only as an elective and I have to take this less literary but more practical version of it (even though I’ve already taken English classes that I’d have had to take this class as a prerequisite).  Despite being frustrated about this at first, it’s actually been a really good class for me.  I needed to get back into the swing of college writing and this class provides a great basis for that refreshment.

(I do, however, feel like the clarity of my writing has gotten a little muddy – I might have started overthinking things…)

Developmental Psychology has been interesting – I find myself able to apply a lot of what I’m learning to things I’ve been studying for a while now, such as learning theory – I’ve picked up John Holt again and his observations in How Children Learn make a lot more sense just from knowing the developmental theories behind the phases he writes about.  A difficulty I am having with this class, however, is realizing how terrible I am at remembering terminology – that’s really not freaking me out at all, it’s not like I want to double major in psych and biology or anything.  Which if you didn’t catch it, is sarcasm.

This difficulty is leading me to work on revising my study habits, maybe reinstating a chart and/or flash cards, while looking up the Latin and Greek roots behind every word so I can really understand what it’s supposed to mean.  Using logic will help me more than just memorizing what-is-what.  Also in the summer I plan to go through a basic Latin textbook to prepare me for the biology course I will be starting in the fall.  If I can find some supplementary Greek I will, but it might be best to focus on Latin first and foremost.

Cultural Anthropology is going… interestingly.  It is a video class; the community college I attend doesn’t actually have a Cultural Anthropology teacher, I guess, so they basically Skype in someone teaching it at another community college.  It’s alright. The book is good, both informative and well-written, but it’s basically the only thing I am getting out of this class.  The teacher might be fine in person, at least so I could really ask him questions, but on the video… let’s just say he needs to start attending Toastmasters, because this is ridiculous.  He has the most boring carrying-on way of talking, rambling, and his speech is at least 50% uhs and ums, so in a fifty-minute class period you get about half the information you wanted.  Oh except for this one student in his actual class who really loves interjecting with the most irrelevant comments, questions, sometimes songs – so, altogether you get about 20 minutes of material covered, usually stuff already mentioned in the book unless he chooses to show a documentary.  And then he shows the video through the Skype-type program, so… I mean, you know Skype.  It freezes up half the time.  If he just emailed us the link to watch the video ourselves on our own projectors we wouldn’t have this problem.  

Public Speaking, of all classes, has turned out to be my favorite class of this semester.  I was actually pretty terrified my fist day, it sounded like it was going to be the hardest class of all and that the instructor was threatening us with everything short of death itself.  Fortunately for everyone that has stuck around, it turns out that our dear speech teacher is just very serious and expects things to be done when they are due in the way that she detailed wanting them done – makes sense, right?  Not so much in my other classes, it seemed.

English is fun and interesting and definitely helping me figure out what I’m doing as I’m re-entering college, but nobody seems to care much about this class except for me, and I constantly feel like I am pulling “a Hermione” on the whole class.  It’s not that I’m really any better at English than they are, but I try hard and pay attention and I can’t understand the motivation behind *not* doing this.  And this is one of the big reasons why I stopped going to college in the first place – I was tired of being subjected to everyone else’s terrible attitudes towards school, a privilege so many people have longed for.

Anyway, some positives, some negatives.  I will try to post more soon, but I have a lot of projects to work on…stay tuned!

Don’t forget to check out my [super ironic] book, Life Without College: The Method!