Musings: How to cope with losing your purpose in life (or not)

Musings: How to cope with losing your purpose in life (or not)

Ever feel like you have a higher purpose?

Something you’re meant to do with your life — a calling you’re destined to fulfil?

​You’re not alone.

It’s no wonder so many of us feel like this.

In this day and age, we’re constantly being fed the message that we must find our calling, our ultimate purpose.

From the philosophizing of public figures like Oprah and Steve Jobs to colourful adverts, numerous religions, and a zillion online videos, TED talks, and articles…. (phew!), the message that there’s an ultimate meaning or calling to our lives is practically shoved down our throats.

And guess what? That message is gobbled up.

In fact, “what is the meaning of my life?” gets anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million searches on Google every single month!

Even I grew up believing we all have a greater calling to fulfil.

But what if I told you there isn’t one single thing you’re meant to do with your life?

What if I told you there is no greater purpose and you have no calling?

How does that make you feel? Does it take a bit of the pressure off?

Finding a purpose can be romanticized fiction

The more I learn, the more I realize the idea of a calling is probably a fiction — a story we tell ourselves to help us get through the day and make sense of the world.

As we look over the course of history, we can see the types of stories humans tell have shifted and moulded over time.

What was once considered ultimate truth — such as kings being endowed with divine powers — is now considered to be ludicrous in educated societies.

The same may be true of our belief in a calling.

There is no proof of a purpose or a calling in objective reality, so we cannot know it is true.

Of course, believing in things we cannot see isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Also Read: Forgiving is hard but necessary for your well-being

Believing in stories is one of the reasons humans thrive as the dominant species on our planet.

However, whether the belief that we have a calling is true or not (which we have no way of knowing), at the end of the day, it is a story.

Which means we should be asking ourselves — is this story helping or hindering us?

The idea of a calling suggests there’s a right way and a wrong way to live our lives.

Take the right path, and you’ll serve a higher purpose.

Take the wrong path, and you’re a failure.

But with so many career options available, I’ve found this idea has become more of a burden than a helpful tool — which is why I think it’s time to let it go

And let’s be totally honest — are our lives really that important?

Do we really matter that much when you consider all other lives, the stars, the planets, the galaxies, and the universe (…or even possible universes)?

Perhaps the idea of a calling is just our egos telling us that we matter more than we do, telling us that we have a higher purpose to fulfil — because the alternative is too frightening.

I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Why not take some pressure off, appreciate our reality, and embrace more of life’s possibilities instead?

Freeing ourselves of the burden of finding our purpose allows us to create the space to simply find something that brings us joy.

We can stop fretting about whether or not we’re doing the right thing with our lives.

We should allow for multiple possibilities, multiple careers, and multiple paths.

There may not be an ultimate meaning to our lives, but there is an opportunity to attribute meaning to any situation — it could be an opportunity for growth, a stepping stone to something else, or simply spreading small kindnesses to the people you work with.

Do this and you’ll be happier.

Mayowa Oladeji

A writer with a keen interest in human stories and topical issues around the world.
Mayowa Oladeji

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