Purpose from Within


I can still remember the day that marked the end of in-person classes here in my province due to the global pandemic. What most of us expected to be a two-week break has turned into almost two years. My friends and family know me to be a serial planner. When life throws an unexpected wrench in plans, I’m the type to have a Plan B (maybe Plan C and D as well). However, the situation brought about by the pandemic has made me feel like a huge chunk of my existence was upended.

Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay

I’ve spent the past three semesters in online school and I am now in my graduating year in university. Suffice to say, it has been challenging. I went through a rollercoaster of mixed emotions because I felt like I no longer had control. Many of my plans fell through and I felt lost. However, my time in isolation has finally made me appreciate the saying  “It’s okay not to have everything figured out”. While I didn’t have control over all that was happening, I came to realize that I still had control over myself, how I decided to feel, and how I have chosen to remain steadfast. 

Over the past two years, I had been struggling on what career to pursue after graduating. I teetered between wanting to be a diplomat, lawyer, stockbroker, wildlife ecologist, and geopolitical analyst, among other possible careers. All this time, I had only been looking outward. I often neglected to consider what I truly wanted to do. I neglected looking within myself and finding my purpose — my why. Time spent reflecting has made me realize that purpose doesn’t have to be a singular thing. It can be many things, coming to us at different parts of our lives. I believe my purpose is rooted in learning and in advocacy work. This is something that I came to understand by taking the time to get to know myself and what I genuinely love to do. These two things, while broad, inspire me to go about my day and look forward to an even better tomorrow. 

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

Upon discovering one’s purpose, it is likewise important to strengthen it. I found that this can be done through learning and exploration which can be incorporated into our daily lives — learning about an interesting topic, starting a hobby, making a new friend, or trying something new at your favorite restaurant. Our purpose changes, evolves, and strengthens over time. Perseverance and actively seeking one’s purpose is important, however, we must also remember the value of rest and reflection. One major lesson I’ve learned while in university was to be kinder to myself. It was through these moments of self-care and self-kindness that my purpose has continued to thrive. It takes a lot of trial and error to find something that we’re truly passionate about. However, we must not forget that we can always slow down and look within ourselves to find our “why”. In his acceptance speech for the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Luis Barragan shares his reflection on solitude. “Only in intimate communion with solitude may man find himself.” So, get to know yourself, listen to what your heart yearns for, and eventually, you’ll find that the seeds of your purpose will start to grow and flourish.

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Published: January 31, 2022
Written by: Faye Ysabela Ong, a WYA Headquarters intern from the Philippines

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