Why are you here? What is your purpose? This is a question that was posed to me last week during a discussion. More specifically, this is a question that has been posed to me more times than I have cared to keep track of. If this question is new to you, then you’ve simply been ignoring it.
Growing up, being famous was my one true dream job. I wanted to be everything from a famous athlete to the lead man for a world famous rock band. My biggest fear was irrelevance. This dream carried with me throughout my childhood into my teen years. As a lifelong Christian, I knew every person had a purpose, I just thought mine was to be famous.
The problem with this, as I learned through much internal debate, is that fame is ultimately irrelevant and time moves much too fast for anyone to be remembered forever. Common knowledge of recent history teaches most of us about legends in our respective fields. For me, these legends are great writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Jimmy Breslin. However, most are hard pressed to come up with examples of leaders in their field from 200 years or farther into history. The lesson here is to not get too hung up on your legacy.
There were people 200 years ago that were at the top of their fields who no one remembers. Success, power and fame are great, but none of these things stand the test of time. So what’s the point of it all?
Everyone has a reason to be here, and there is a reason you are placed in the tiny segment of the giant timeline of eternity you are in. You could have existed at any other time in human history, past or present, but you exist here, now, today. That itself is pretty powerful, and could serve as a purpose of its own. Still though, if you can’t be the most important person in your tiny segment of time, how do you find that purpose?
We don’t know how much time we have. We never know when our existence will come to an end. Every day is a gift, and each moment in that day is a micro opportunity to make an impact.
So last week when my resident assistant in Thayer Hall asked me this question as a part of a Resident’s Life educational event on philosophy, I answered with what I have found to be the best answer for myself: To make the most positive impact on as many people as I can during my time here.
While becoming a famous something (who knows what I’ll end up doing) would certainly help increase the number of people I can positively impact, this is a purpose I can fulfill each and every day. Each day is full of opportunities to improve the lives of others. Whether it is offering a smile to a passing stranger who looks like they are having a bad day or taking the time to listen to a loved one about their day. Plus, who knows what I’ll end up doing, there’s a chance I’ll become famous.
Don’t get lost on legacy. If no one is going to remember your name in a thousand years anyway, why not make the most in the moments you were put on this planet to live out?