Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you aren’t working towards any purpose in life? That you’re sitting here, like a hamster in a wheel, just running harder and harder to succeed at something you don’t even care about?
I’ve been struggling with frustration at my stage of life for the last two years or so. I love school, don’t get me wrong, but I find it infuriating at times, mainly because I was made to do things, not just sit and passively acquire knowledge, working really really hard to not see any results immediately. (Patience is not my strong suit). That’s why I’m looking forward to grad school–yeah, it’s way harder, but I can handle tough if it means I get to actually get some practical experience!
But even more than that, I’ve been really seeking something that will finally give me a feeling of purpose again. Something that will show me that what I’m doing actually is making a difference. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve been trying to convince my husband to move halfway across the world with me just so I can feel like I am finally doing something.
I see all of these people my age with these amazing ministries, amazing businesses, amazing research that is changing lives all over the world, and I’m just sitting here, in my room, studying for courses I’m not even going to use ever again (they’re electives that I enjoy but have no practical significance) and let me tell you, it can get really frustrating.
I’m not trying to complain about my life. That is not what I mean at all. I absolutely love my life. I just want my life to mean more than what it does now. It’s the existential crisis faced by every college student around their third or fourth year.
I figure that I can’t be the only one going through this. I really hope I’m not the only one going through this, anyway, or I’m going to sound really crazy. But I’ve been journalling about my frustrations around purpose in life over the last month or so and I’ve found several re-occurring themes that I thought are good reminders when we feel trapped in the stage of life that’s we’re in. They’re what are helping me keep some sanity, so I hope they can help you, too.
1. There is nothing wrong the with the waiting stage
I hate waiting. In case you hadn’t noticed yet. It’s probably the worse feeling ever–I’d prefer to have constant mosquito bites than to be in a waiting stage of life. On my ankles. Yep. I hate it that much.
I’ve been reminding myself that God has to teach me patience at some time, and if he chooses now then I just have to be OK with that. Because He is God and I am not. But it is seriously hard to get your head around this one. The waiting stage is the only way we learn contentment and patience. It’s the only opportunity we have to really test our ability to say “it is well with my soul,” despite not having everything we want. It’s easy to say everything is wonderful when we’ve succeeded, but when we’re still waiting on that success? That’s the real test.
2. The waiting stage will pass
When I get really frustrated at life, it really helps me to remember that this is a stage. Just remembering that whatever you’re going through, whether it’s heartbreak over a breakup or anxiety surrounding a college class, is most likely a stage that will pass in time somehow makes it so much easier. Some stages are longer than others, and some are harder than others, but it will pass. So even if your life isn’t what you want it to be now, just keep doing your job as a student, daughter, friend, etc. and you’ll get through to the other end.
3. It’s important to figure out why you feel you’re not working towards your purpose in life
Do you feel called to be in some sort of ministry? Or do you just really really hate your courses? Figure out why you’re feeling like you’re not working towards your purpose in life is essential in fixing the problem. For me, I love my courses but I want to be out there DOING something already! I want to spread my message of the importance true relationship with people and with God, instead of continuing in stringent rules and church politics. I’m sick and tired of being a student with no voice, not sick and tired of psychology. My husband, on the other hand, hated his courses for his major, so much so that he was getting extremely disillusioned. So he switched into psychology (yep, our kids are in for a treat with two psych parents) and he feels much better!
Figure out why you feel trapped, and see if it’s something you can fix.
4. Look for outlets outside of your everyday life
Blogging has helped me so much as I’ve been struggling with feeling stuck. Just having a way to communicate with others and start conversations on topics I feel passionate about has been such an amazing experience. I write a lot of posts, but my favourite ones are always faith commentaries, such as my post on why students leave the church, what happens when we dumb down the gospel, and how the church can help with mental health. Honestly this blog has been like therapy for me at times! Blogging gives me a voice, and helps me feel like I can make a difference, even if it’s only a small one now.
Maybe you can start volunteering with an organization you feel pulled towards. Maybe you can start blogging, too! It doesn’t even need to be public–maybe you can start creative writing, or journalling, to help you feel creative and inspired again. Whatever works for you, find something that gives you purpose in life outside of your daily grind at school or work or stay-at-home tasks.
5. Take this time to pour into the church
If you’re like me and are hoping to someday have a lifestyle that is a lot more interesting (and therefore a lot busier) than the one you have now, seriously consider investing in the church while you still have time. My ideal life would be one where I worked part time as a clinical psychologist, part time as an author-speaker like my mom. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for volunteering on the worship team, in nursery, etc. if I’m on the road a lot.
So I’m choosing to see this stage in my life as the stage that I’m able to give as much as I can to the church in terms of time. When you do find your calling, you’re going to need the body of Christ to help you along, so invest in the church now, while you have time and resources to give. If you look at this stage in life as an opportunity to help your church family grow, it starts to look more like a blessing than just something to get through.
Maybe I’m the only one who feels like this, but judging by how many of you e-mailed me about my post on the struggles of being an ENTJ Christian girl, I’m betting that I’m not. But remember, this is a stage, it will pass, but while it’s here, make the most of it.
What is your dream for your life? Do you ever feel stuck with where you are now? Share your story, and offer some encouragement to others!
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