“I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a grand ambition. It is okay to wander through life finding interesting things to do until you die.” https://www.instagram.com/p/CEuA5EUhmDG/
It is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the causes of melancholy in today’s youth is the fear of missing out, FOMO if you will.
Thanks in part to social media, the world is much smaller and everyone is your neighbour regardless of where you actually live. Like many things, this has its positives and negatives. The negative is that you have so many people to compare yourself to; so many FOMO inducing moments which you might not have had otherwise. This goes beyond parties and fun holidays but also seeps into more serious existential things; finding fulfillment and purpose. A 21 year old in Texas bought her first house, now a 26 year old in London who saw the pictures on Instagram is feeling insecure and unaccomplished because she is nowhere near being able to do the same. People feel like failures because they haven’t completely “figured out” their lives at 24. Everyone else appears to have it together (just look at their Instagram pages!) and this intensifies the pressure.
The need to find one’s purpose predates the internet age and is not unique to this generation. However the concept of finding one’s purpose is both helped and worsened by social media. On one hand there is whole new range of occupations that were not available twenty or even ten years ago. People can now make careers out of their hobbies and interests, instead of forcing themselves into unsuitable moulds. On the other hand a traditional 9-5 is considered old fashioned and dull, leaving a lot of people feel pressure to be doing something non traditional on the side. Surely you can’t simply work for thirty or so years and then retire. How uninteresting. What a waste of a life. You need to find your purpose!
Now people are running helter skelter trying to determine their true purpose because “if you do what you love it doesn’t feel like work.”
This whole thing about finding one’s purpose can be both liberating and stifling. Liberating because you may be lucky to find something that enriches your soul. Stifling because unless you find this “purpose” you may find yourself perpetually unfulfilled, restlessly hopping from one place to the other in search of the elusive purpose.
So when I saw the quote at the beginning of the post, I was immediately drawn to it and inspired to write this post. Of course some people will disagree and say everyone in-fact has a purpose; wandering is a purpose. I myself wonder if I was drawn to the idea of not having a purpose as a cop-out for my laziness and lethargy. I like to write and my computer is littered with unfinished pieces. If I took writing as my purpose would I be more serious with it or would I be driven mad trying to fulfill this purpose? For now writing is something I like to do but I feel no pressure as I don’t necessarily see it as my purpose. Still there are times I feel like there ought to be more to life (see last post) and I wonder if I would feel more fulfilled if I had a purpose I was working towards.
For some, having a life purpose can be very comforting and motivating as it keeps them going. Conversely it can also be comforting to think that there is really no purpose to life, no heights that must be reached, no real boxes that must be ticked. You don’t have to get married and have children if you don’t want to. You don’t have to monetise all your hobbies and interests. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur.
If it makes you happy to live day to day as you are then don’t stress yourself out fearing that you are missing out. And to those who are desperately searching for their purpose, their raison d’etre? I hope you find this and I hope it makes you happy.
3 thoughts on “On purpose and fear of missing out.”
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