When I hear the phrase, “find your purpose,” it feels heavy, clunky, a bit awkward, and confusing to me. The term has become so weighty to me over the years, especially in my church community. While it has good intentions, I feel a sensitivity around the term. For so many, it is misunderstood as an unnecessary pressure to perform, to “do big things” or “start something.” It gets tied to identity and worth in a way that I am on a mission to metaphorically break apart.
When people hear that I started Darling Magazine (now Darling Media) at age 22 on Kickstarter, they get wide-eyed and ask, “How did you know what you wanted to do with your life; where did this idea come from?” I tell them that it started as an idea over coffee to repair brokenness in the media industry by being the first magazine to ban retouching of models, use all sizes of women in photography, and speak to women about purpose, identity, and true beauty.
When people see the sweeping impact it has made over the last 15 years, they often compliment me as the leader of this vision. While Darling is something I’m proud of, another response I’ve received a few times makes me cringe on the inside: “I wish I was passionate about something like you are, or even had a purpose.” It’s natural to compare what we do versus what others do, but when people feel this, it truly saddens me—mostly because I’ve gone through the painful journey of breaking up with the idea that I am what I do.
If you take away one thing from reading this, I hope it is this: Purpose is not something hiding from you, or something that’s found in frantic “doing;” it is first found in the realization of your inherent worth apart from anything you put your hands to do.
Our foremost purpose is to live a life knowing that our value—our body, mind, personality, and all we are—is enough, and the “purpose” of our being is simple. It is to impact what I call our “circles.” First, it’s the circle 10 feet around us inside our own home, then it’s the circles outside our home of any humans we interact with. Within these circles, we find our core purpose in the giving of our sincere love, our service, our most conscious attention, our best listening ear, and our intentional ascription of worth to those people.
When I’m struggling to accept this, I ask God, “God, what do you think of me?” and wait for the answer. I can’t say it enough: you are loved and enough, just as you are, no matter what you are doing. This is not to say that work is unimportant, but I do believe that if we can’t first find self-worth and purpose in our essential existence with our closest people, anything we try to do or build will start off on the wrong foot.
When we begin from this posture – and then perhaps find along the way a passion for something that builds inside of us – we should pursue it. Whatever we build or work toward will never give us more purpose, it will only enhance and show other faces to the purpose we already possess.