Do you ever look up at the night sky, marvel at how big it is, and inwardly scream to yourself, “What the fuck am I doing here?”
If so, you’re my kind of person. Not just because you like looking up at the night sky when most people would rather look down at their smartphones. But also because you ask the hard questions most people don’t have the courage to ask themselves.
I’ve done my fair share of staring up at night skies and wondering what my life purpose is. For the vast majority of my life, that’s all I ever did, coasting along the years as they came and went before me all the while wondering to myself what exactly I was doing.
And then I discovered personality quizzes. I love personality quizzes. I’ve probably done them all, from the expert-approved quizzes like Myers-Briggs (I’ve gone from INFJ to INFP to ENFP and back and round and round, by the way) to build-your-own-cocktail-and-we’ll guess-your-life-purpose quizzes on Buzzfeed. I just love reading about myself. Don’t we all? That’s why Facebook is so successful.
But all those online quizzes can only do so much. You can have psychologists on the Internet tell you you’re this and that and these are the things you’re supposed to be doing with your life. And you can nod your head in agreement, wondering how these strangers got to pin your personality down so accurately.
But you’re reading all this from behind a screen. And whatever Mark Zuckerberg says about how the world has gotten more connected thanks to social media, you still feel a huge disconnect between what you’re seeing onscreen and what you actually feel.
Myers-Briggs, for example, says I’m an INFP today. I’m kind, soft-hearted, and I put people first. Just last week, I was an ENFP. I was the life of the party and my life purpose was to explore the world and inspire people with my enthusiasm for learning. And the other week? Well, the other week, I was an INFJ. I was an idealist. I thrive by teaching people how to fish, not giving them a fish. And that’s totally different from the fish-giving life purpose I am supposed to have now that I am being an INFP.
There’s no one-size-fits-all personality for anybody. And that means there’s no one-size-fits-all life purpose for everybody too. A lot of us have grown up thinking that by the time we’re 30, we should already have figured out what we came here to do.
Heck, they make us choose at 16, one of the most turbulent times in our lives. And nobody prepares us for the inevitable crisis that we go through afterwards, when we finally have the college degree to dictate our life direction and we’re a few years in working for someone with a vision we don’t care about.
I know people in their mid-20s falling into depression just because they think they don’t know what to do with their lives. And those who have gone into their 30s? Some hold on very staunchly to what they know they’re supposed to do. I admire them for their persistence.
Most, however, are secretly asking themselves if this is all there is to life. You know, get up at 5 a.m., get the kids ready to school (if you have them), take a quick sip of coffee, and rush off to work where you do the very same thing you did yesterday. And then go back home to get dinner ready, get the kids to bed, and go to bed trying to convince themselves that this is the life they’ve dreamed of.
Well, yeah. That’s what most grown-ups have prepared us for, isn’t it? The only problem is we’re not like most grown-ups. We’re not like most people. How do I know? Because you still look up at the night sky asking the stars if this is all there is, while most people have their eyes glued to Mobile Legends or Cardo or something.
And here’s the answer to that. If you’re still asking, then the answer is no. No, this so-called life is not all there is. No, what you thought you were supposed to do based on what other people think you’re supposed to do is not what you are supposed to do. No, you didn’t come here to follow the straight path from school to work to marriage to family to death. There is no straight path to follow. There is only the path you wish to take for yourself.
And trust me when I say you already know what that path is. Hell, you know what that path is much better than the people behind Myers-Briggs do, and that’s saying much because I enjoy Myers-Briggs. I’ve heard people lament the fact that they don’t know what to do. They say they envy people who have finally discovered their life purpose and are passionately pursuing it. They say if they could only discover theirs, they wouldn’t feel so lost, abandoned, alone in a big universe where life seems to be going along just fine for everybody else except themselves.
First of all, life isn’t always going along just fine for everybody. Most days, most people are inwardly dealing with issues they would rather not let themselves show the world. Because doing so would be tantamount to admitting so-called weakness. So they smile and post happy thoughts on Facebook and Instagram to make themselves believe they’ve got it all under control.
And second of all, you don’t actually discover your life purpose. Not in a way where you have to go digging into your childhood and past lives to clear out the muck so that your sought-after life purpose shines through. You simply have to admit what you’re supposed to do and then choose to do that every single day of your life.
Here’s an easy way to figure out what you’re supposed to do. Ask yourself: What am I drawn to? It’s not about what feels good to you because feeling good can mean sitting on the couch eating chocolate and watching reruns of Friends until 2 a.m. It’s not about what you want to do either because many people want to sleep in every day for the rest of their lives, or until they finally get it that life doesn’t give much to those who don’t give much to life. (You get what you give, remember?)
It’s not even about what you love. Take me, for example. I love a lot of things. I love kickboxing and lying on the sand at the beach and making unicorn gift-wrapping for my little godchildren, but that doesn’t mean any of that is my life purpose. My life purpose has been staring me in the face since I was seven years old. Through the years, I kept swatting it away like a pesky fly thinking that couldn’t be it. It’s too obvious. But even through those times when I didn’t want to put pen to paper and write something, anything, I was still drawn to write like Jose Rizal’s baby moth to the fire. It can hurt. It can excruciatingly hurt because, most times, I have to dig into myself if I want to write something that makes sense.
What are you drawn to? What’s the call you can’t resist? What do you do that you do because you cannot not do it, even though it can hurt like a bitch? What do you do that makes you feel expansive, like you’re finally one with the huge night sky when you do it? What do you do that makes you feel like you get it, like you get the world and you get life, even though you can’t explain it to people who don’t get it? That’s your life purpose.
It’s as simple as that, but it’s not always easy. I have learned that a lot of the things in life that we think are complicated are actually very simple after all. Take relationships, for example. We have so many books, movies, TV shows, even double-blind, randomized scientific studies trying to decode the secret of loving, healthy relationships. It turns out all you really need to do to find someone worthy of being in a relationship with you is to be yourself. And all you need to do to keep that relationship is to allow that other person to be themselves.
It’s the same with your life purpose. You can take all the personality quizzes in the world until you’re blue in the face, but nothing anyone else can ever say, no matter how eloquent they are, will tell you what you’re supposed to do. That’s because nobody knows what your purpose is, except you. It’s already right there inside of you. And the signs are already sitting in front of you.
Chances are childhood you already knew. We adults tend to forget that children deserve far more credit than we give them. And chances are your closest friends also already know. If you’ve got very good friends, they gently push and prod you to do more of what you’re already doing because they know you’re making the world a better place because of it.
But most people are too scared to admit what they want to do. In fact, most people will tell you that what they’re drawn to isn’t their life purpose at all. Their life purpose has to be something grand and noble, like setting up a foundation to feed kids in Africa or dying to save people from their sins at 33 or figuring out the cure for cancer or making sad and somber movies about poverty and corruption and fucked up prison systems because that’s what grown-ups want to talk about instead of the silly vlogs you find on YouTube.
And even when you actually feel a certain pull towards something, you’re mostly scared to actually do something about it. Because what if you actually follow that call and you end up jobless, penniless, and friendless? What if you allowed yourself to give in to this and you realize you’re not actually good enough for it? And what would people say about you doing the thing that you wanted to do? How childish. How irresponsible. How… you do the rest.
Your fears are normal. They’re simply signs that you’re still very human. And that’s okay. But here’s the thing about constantly listening to your fears. You can keep looking up at the night sky always asking, doubting, and just for a teeny, tiny bit hating on God, the Universe, the fairies, whoever put you in such a random, purposeless situation here. Or you can start looking up with wonder and gratitude for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience that which you’re drawn to. It’s always a choice. And what you choose is always what was meant for you.