Today we met a gentleman who shared some of his story with us. He had been in the military for years, and then went on to be a teacher by day and police officer by night. He shared some of the things that kept him up at night with nightmares from his years of hard work and service. I realized in that moment that part of my purpose isn’t just to share my story to help others, but to give them an opportunity to share their stories as well. For when we share our stories – when we verbally acknowledge what happened, and receive empathy, validation, and comfort from someone else about what we went through – then healing can begin. I want that for others. I want them to feel safe to share their stories. To not keep them as pent-up secrets, but to let them out so they (the secret, and the person) can be free.
We also learned from this gentleman that his wife just retired. She had worked as an executive assistant for 28 years. Her entire purpose, identity, and being, was wrapped up in that occupation; to the point that now (in what should be one of the most celebratory times of her life) she is lost, agitated, and depressed. His heart was broken for his wife, but he did not know how to help her. Purpose is such a key ingredient to a healthy, happy existence. Without it, a person is lost in the middle of the ocean without a compass or map.
It reminded me that just because a person has a job to do, does not mean he/she has a purpose. Purpose is highly relative, and dependent upon each unique individual. Every job is important, but not every person finds importance in their job. And that is what matters.
I believe every person has a deep, innate sense of what their purpose is. It might be broad, or it might be specific. But because it does not always shout or jump up and down, it can often get lost behind other important things (like money, bills, job titles, kids school, etc.). Even if it gets lost though, it never dies. And that is one way you can discover your purpose. By analyzing what refuses to die, no matter how many times it gets neglected, forgot about, or pushed aside. And until you finally pursue it, it will never be satisfied. You will never be satisfied, until you give it the attention it does not demand (like everything else), but nonetheless deserves.