I believe that if you look too hard for your purpose in life, you will look right past it. Like most young children, when someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response varied moment to moment. When I took ballet lessons I wanted to be a ballerina. When I helped my aunt grade papers; I wanted to be a teacher. Playing with Lincoln Logs prompted my desire to become an architect. But when I saw the cute candy-striper uniform my sister wore while volunteering; I had to be a nurse!
I enjoyed day-dreaming about what I wanted to be until my senior year of high school when conversations focused on graduation, college, and jobs. I started to panic. I had a part-time job at a craft store but what was I supposed to do now; go to college or get a full-time job? When I calmed down and realized I had good friends, a loving family, and I was a good student; I became confident that life would continue to fall into place. I was so naïve.
Everything changed the instant I found out I was pregnant. I was seventeen and terrified. I decided college was not an option. After the birth of my daughter; I got a job as a waitress. With the support of my family, my daughter and I grew up together. I kept wondering what I was supposed to do with my life believing the answer was to get a college degree which would lead to a better job. I also started to wonder about my purpose in life. Years went by without answers.
I eventually did start college. I was also blessed with two more children. Over the next twenty years, I stopped and started college three times to make sure my children came first and that I was able to enjoy every possible moment of their lives. My heart experienced great joy as I heard first words, saw first steps, attended ballet and piano recitals, soccer, cross country, and tennis events, and was class room mom. My heart struggled as my children got stitches, learned to drive, went on dates, and experienced the pain of breakups. My heart again swelled with joy at graduations, at moments when I realized my children made good life choices, and at my daughter’s wedding.
My children successfully distracted me from dwelling on the fact that I still didn’t know what I wanted to be or what my purpose was in life. Then one day, while looking through years of pictures that told the story of my children’s lives, I realized I had looked too hard. The answer was right in front of me. A college degree and a career don’t determine who a person is supposed to be, a person’s passion determines their purpose in life. I had looked right past the fact that my passion was my children and simply being a mom and there is no greater blessing in the world!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.