I went camping this weekend in Ocean Shores with a big group of people. Some of them were old friends; some of them became new friends. We spent two days outdoors, laughing pretty much the entire time. I’ll admit that we all seem to have an absurd sense of humor–and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
We had our moments, however, when it became clear that we are all people with drive and purpose. For the most part, the people I was with were in helping professions–education, nursing, psychology/counseling, and so forth. And lately, I’ve been thinking about what my purpose really is. I know in general terms, I’m driven to make others smile and to provide a shoulder to lean on. How do I articulate that?
I know in terms of the profession I’ve chosen, it means I want to be that advisor that students feel comfortable turning to. It means that even when I have to go over “boring” details about contracts or policies or program requirements, I do it without reservation and with genuine care. I want the people I work with to know that I care about the work I do, and I want to also be appreciated. I don’t want to feel replaceable or disposable.
I’m a unique little soul, and I don’t like feeling ordinary.
Then again, what truly sets me apart? All my life, academics and my career have been #1–but am I missing out on something? And if so, what? I don’t feel the same pressure to tidy up and settle down that I may have felt a few years ago; maybe what I’m feeling is the nagging feeling that I haven’t laid down any foundations. And if that’s the case, well then… umm… can I simply count a Master’s degree and a general outline as a foundation? And if someone doesn’t think that’s the case, is it still early enough in the game for me not to hold that opinion in high regard?
I have a feeling this next academic year is going to bring a lot more soul-searching, a lot more meaning-making, and a lot more adventuring. I have a lot of things to figure out, like what my priorities are at the age of twenty-five. We’ll see what I conclude in the not-so-far-off future.
For now, maybe it’s best to keep myself happily entertained by creating an alias, or encouraging someone to make a “birthday cake” out of several matches, a marshmallow, and a stick, or sitting on the beach while pretending the incoming fog is really a robot apocalypse. Maybe it’s best just to let it be and also let myself be.