Self Knowledge & Purpose

forrest-gump1What is my purpose in life?

Just a couple of years out of college, I have found the ability to be self-aware of one’s ultimate reason for existing on this Earth to be one of the most frustrating questions a person can have.

Since the beginning of complex thought, philosophers, religious scholars, and great thinkers alike have pondered whether or not our individual purpose is our own choice – or has it been predetermined?

One such great thinker by the name of Forrest Gump, stated: “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both.”

This is certainly a question that I have personally struggled with for quite some time and it’s only recently that I have come terms with this grand Question, and finally allowed my mind to be at ease with the conclusions I have made.

I find the thought of an ultimate destiny to be very romantic and empowering; however, this thought also makes things seem a little boring.  Where is the fun in life if, who you are to be isn’t even really up to you?  Yet, at the same time, the way life plays out so beautifully sometimes, I don’t think I can dismiss the idea of destiny.  It is with these thoughts that I have come to agree with Mr. Gump.  We are all presented with many forks in the road, each path with its own destiny and purpose. But it is our choice as to which path and which destiny is ours.

Having self knowledge is knowing which path will lead you to the most meaningful purpose.  Truly great leaders such as Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers, for instance, found their true purposes by investing in the time to acquire the self knowledge to know their paths. I’m sure some paths will be highlighted by others as your purpose, but it is the path that gives you the greatest self-meaning that is your true purpose.  That to me is what makes life so grand.

The greatest fear many have is that they may live their lives without ever finding their true purpose, a fear I know all too well. It is when I feel this fear that I turn to Babe Ruth’s quote: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” That is the challenge, we must go forward and find what we love most in this life.  We must become passionate about something that brings meaning to our lives and then discover how it will benefit others.  It is through this pursuit, that we will increase our chances of stumbling onto the right path, and discovering true self-knowledge. Then – perhaps some day we’ll arrive at a deeper answer to that grand question: what is my purpose?

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This post was written by Blake Bradley: Texas Tech alum, past Forum participant and current Forum Facilitator.

Leading up to the 2014 Texas Student Leadership Forum, we plan to post one blog per week centered around the four tenets of the Forum. We invite anyone to contribute to the discussion – please email reaganpugh@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing. The application for the 2014 Forum can be found here.