We all play a pivotal role in society. But I’ve toyed with the New Age spiritual notion that we all have a unique purpose on Earth to fulfill—a purpose for which we have chosen to be here.
I used to wonder if I could only be happy if I found this one resounding and elusive purpose.
If I knew my soul’s purpose, I believed my life would suddenly have endless meaning and vitality. Once I found my purpose, I would leap out of bed every morning and dance around the kitchen, singing as I made my morning coffee. Because my soul had found its purpose, I’d have everlasting joy and fulfilment.
So, like so many before me, I started to seek. Seek, search, and seek some more. Years and years of it. Countless sleepless nights. Thousands of the same personality quizzes and career quizzes. “What should I do with my life?” quizzes. Can anyone else relate, or was this just me?!
On top of this, I was dissecting my astrology natal chart. Calculating my life path number in numerology. Doing a million courses to kickstart my new life.
It was exhausting and relentless.
And can I tell you what I found after years of seeking, questioning, fumbling, stumbling, searching, forming realizations, and having epiphanies? I found immense confusion.
And you know what happens when one domino falls? That small, single impact creates a river of destruction, consuming everything else in its path.
So, in innocently seeking meaning and purpose, I ended up finding severe, debilitating anxiety. Month-long panic attacks. I was brutally wounded by depression. I felt deep pangs of loneliness and helplessness, and I also developed a constant need to know how everything in my life would turn out.
There were nights when I prayed that I would fall asleep and never wake up again because I felt helpless, unimportant, and utterly useless. I felt like I had failed at life. Failed at being a human. I couldn’t find a purpose or meaning in life, so why should I be here? I didn’t deserve to be here.
I constantly needed to seek more answers, read more self-help books, do more “find your purpose” workshops, and hire more life coaches to gain more qualifications. I developed an incessant need to find what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Because I felt entirely worthless and inherently unlovable without it.
Why could I just not find happiness or joy? Why could I not see this one thing I was supposed to do in my lifetime?
I was seventeen when I discovered the spiritual self-help path. All the crystals, the angel’s cards, and the yoga community felt so good back then. It felt like a secret, magical, alternative world I had found.
However, now, after ten years of going down this route, I sometimes wonder if it’s brought me more harm than good.
I missed out on a massive chunk of my life when I could have been going with the flow, allowing my life to naturally unfold. Instead, I became paralyzed by and obsessed with this notion of finding purpose and meaning in my life.
Then one day a coach asked me why I needed to keep searching. What did she mean “NEEDED to”?!
It hadn’t occurred to me that this was all a choice. I thought it was something I was obliged to find.
I realized that my need to obsessively devour information about my identity and my purpose was actually an attempt to cover a huge, gaping wound.
The wound that said “I am not worthy as I am; I am not enough as I am. I am not lovable as I am.”
This realization touches a deep cord inside most of the human population. It is drilled into us from childhood that we must achieve, do, create, and pursue to be worthy.
Whether that’s the dream body, the dream job, the dream car, or the dream house. Taking X amount of vacations or having Y number of children.
Society today is like a tug of war. We are pulled in every direction. Told that every choice available is right and wrong.
“Get this latest electric car; gas is out of date. You’ve got to go to college to be successful. No, don’t; be an entrepreneur and start a business instead. Every body is a bikini body… but you’re lazy if you don’t work out at the gym. Get married young and have kids before it’s too late! Actually, wait until you are older and wiser until you settle down. Travel the world, but save all your money. Invest as early as you can to prepare for the future. But also, life is short; we could all die tomorrow, so always live today like it’s your last!”
And we wonder why we are living in an age of confusion!
Finding our own truth and unique pathway in this society is the hardest thing we can do.
That’s why so many people are being roped into this fantasy that we will be happy once we achieve all these things, including finding a purpose. The purpose is another thing we can reach to make us feel fulfilled.
I realized I was trying to put a plaster on a wound the size of the gap between two tectonic plates.
I decided that instead of continuing to search, I would give up on everything I’d been following for the past ten years. It was scary. This path was all I had ever walked down. What did it mean to stop seeking? What would I do if I didn’t need to find a purpose? Would I be lost? Would I feel fulfilled? Would life have no meaning, or maybe would I just melt into fragments of my own self-loathing for giving up?
Despite all this fear and uncertainty, I knew it was my only option.
I was tired. My nervous system was fried, my brain was scrambled, and I was done. I was just fully done.
So I decided to stop paying my life savings to coaches and doing every course and qualification I could find. I stopped reading self-help books. I stopped fretting about everything that I put in my body. I just started doing whatever I wanted to do. It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.
Most importantly, I stopped listening to anyone else telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. The only opinion that mattered was my own.
Slowly but surely, within this liberation, I started to find some peace. A peace I hadn’t fully experienced before regarding the direction of my life. I started becoming more open to allowing life to naturally unfold. Allowing opportunities and ideas to present themselves as and when I was ready.
Obviously, I am human, and I am still very much on my everlasting healing journey. There are so many days when I still try to control, grasp, and plan the future and make everything less uncertain. However, once you start to embrace uncertainty, you can look forward to the unknown because you realize that uncertain things aren’t always negative things. In fact, uncertainty can be exciting.
If we knew everything we needed to know, there would be nothing left to explore.
What if the purpose of it all was to get to know yourself? Build yourself. Strengthen yourself. Cultivate a human being you are proud of. Or just a human being that you love and are compassionate toward.
And I don’t mean proud of what you own or do. Proud of who you are. Do you like yourself as a human being? Where is there room for improvement? Are you kind? Do you listen carefully when others speak? Are your patient or gracious? Do you have or want to build a relationship with God / the universe / the divine?
These are the huge life questions we could be asking ourselves. These things give us more self-love and purpose than anything else. And best of all, it’s sustainable and everlasting. These things can’t be taken away from us once cultivated.
What if the purpose of every human life was just to have a human life?
What if our purpose is just to be here? Now. As we are. Experiencing the full spectrum of the human experience.
The joy, the grief, the pain, the peace, the sadness, anger, and happiness, the laughs and the cries, the profound pain of grieving the loss of a loved one when your heart feels like it will explode out of your chest and paint the world in darkness. To feel the joys and tummy rupturing combined with howling cackles of laughter shared between friends.
Being human is to feel. And to love and to express.
What if the sole purpose of us being here is to experience that fully?
This isn’t found in buying your dream car or house, but it can be if you want it to. It’s not necessarilly found in a career or traveling the world, but it can be that if you want it too!
That’s the beauty of this life! You can do whatever the you want to do! And you should.
If that means working as little as possible and devoting time to your hobbies, then do it. If that’s striving to become the next billionaire, then do it.
But remember to experience being human on the way.
Don’t forget that the only satisfaction you’ll get in life is when you befriend and master your internal world.
I started journaling around this topic and asking myself questions that drew out who I wanted to be in this life. Here are four statements and questions that have helped me.
1. Change the question from “What do I want to DO in this life?” to “Who do I want to BE in this life?” It’s a simple but profound alteration.
2. Change “What is my purpose?” to “Do I want to impact the world while I’m in it? If yes, what cause means the most to me, and how can I make a little contribution?” Maybe you join an activist group or start signing petitions.
3. Ask yourself where would you go and what would you do if you were unlimited? The answer here indicates your true pleasures and enjoyments. Try incorporating more of them into your life if you can.
4. What would you do if you could do any job in the world? Or if money was no issue, how would you live your life? How would you fill your days? Most people think they would lie on a beach all day drinking. But I promise you, day in and day out, that gets old really fast.
So spend time really thinking about this. What would you actually do? What would you want to do with all that spare time? This indicates what you would be doing if you didn’t let limiting beliefs get in the way and shows you what you would choose to do if you had time and freedom.
My personal answers to these questions were to spend time in nature. Be with animals at a sanctuary and travel the world volunteering. Learn all about new cultures and study philosophy and esoteric topics.
I realized I had to realign my life. I didn’t have to seek something external. I needed to alter the train tracks of my life so that it was pointing to my north star again.
No pressure, no more seeking. No more searching (in this context). However, I do love to learn, read, and study.
But by giving everything up and rejecting all that I thought I ‘should be,’ I found my way home to the things I already am.
They are simple, humble, and honest. I no longer feel I need to change the world to be worthy of love. Or achieve huge great milestones to be seen as successful.
Doing the simple, little things that make life worth living does the job and is already more than enough.
These things may grow and change with me as I evolve. And that’s wonderful. Purpose is not a fixed destination. Purpose is a journey; you carry it with you, and it changes as you grow and change.
All you need to do is check your internal compass on where you want to go next.
About Charlotte Burke
Charlotte is a travel and spirituality blogger and animal welfare activist from UK England. With a passion for all things culture, philosophy, and esoterica, she explores a wealth of topics and unearths life’s meaning through art and writing.