What is my purpose in life?
Why am I alive?
What is the meaning of life?
Today I’m going to partly live up to my blog’s tagline by providing a very simple answer to the answer of the ultimate question of life, the Universe, and everything.
No, not that one. Though you should read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy if you haven’t already.
So how does a 22-year old woman arrive at the answer to the question philosophers have grasped at for millenia?
Well… since it’s me, I’ll explain in as roundabout a way as possible.
I am an atheist/agnostic. A huge theme throughout my adolescence was coming to terms with my religious beliefs, which was further complicated by being raised in the sort of Christianity which tried to tell me being transgender is sinful.
Eventually, I did end up deciding what I believed and didn’t believe for myself. Yay me! I didn’t tell people until I’d come out as transgender, it was something of a two-for-one coming out in that sense, and I noticed something interesting.
When you’re trans, you get the same tired questions all the time. How do you know? Are you getting surgery? What if you’re wrong?
However, it turns out being areligious also comes with its own sort of questions. Some of them are a bit insulting (these usually involve morality) but by far the most frequent one was a bit odd:
What’s the purpose of life, then?
Until then, I thought a belief in a god or gods or lack thereof was simply a matter of truth. People were Christian or Muslim or Pastafarian because it was true. End of. Just like people who thought the Earth was flat thought so because it made sense to them, and how we now think it’s round. It’s simply the best explanation.
When I started hearing this question over and over, I realised that people don’t just believe in religion because it’s true. Sure, they do think it’s true, but they also find a huge comfort in it. It gives them a purpose in life.
Good for them.
How do they answer their question then, if I don’t believe in any god? Well, with a question of my own:
Why does it need to have a purpose?
When it comes to discussions about life and why we’re here, there’s an unspoken agreement that there just has to be a reason. That we need to have some higher purpose.
What if we don’t, though? Anyways, when did we all agree humanity was so important only a complex explanation involving a deity or deep meaning would do?
Let’s say we don’t have some cosmic reason to exist, some higher purpose. Is that so terrible?
I dislike the idea of a mystical purpose for the same reason I don’t like fate. In a way, it’s like having freedom taken away from you.
So, to answer the original question in a straightforward way… I think the purpose of your life is whatever you make it, and we all get to decide what our existence and the world mean to each of us.
Some people find their life’s purpose in fighting an obscure neurological disease. Others dedicate themselves to drawing cartoons, and find fulfilment there. There are men and women who see raising their kids as the main reason for their lives.
Once we let go of the idea of hoping for, or believing in an ultimate purpose, we can determine what we want out lives to be about. We’re free to choose, to grow, and shape our lives accordingly. If you want to let your religious beliefs shape your life, that’s great. Do what’s best for you. I personally prefer the joy of deciding what matters most for myself, and being free from predetermined purpose.
What reason do I find for my life, then?
It has changed as I’ve grown older, but here are the main tenets of my personal purpose for my life:
- To fill my life with as much happiness as possible.
- To do what I can to make the lives of those I care for more joyous, and give them as much love as I can give.
- To read, study, and understand as much as possible. No matter the field, to never stop asking more and more questions, and learning all I can about the Universe.
- To leave a positive impact in the world. Whether it’s through small acts of charity and kindness, or writing a wonderful book that will connect with the hearts of hundreds or thousands of people, I hope to do what is in my power to leave the world in some way better than it was before.
That’s all. Maybe a bit simple and unoriginal, but those are the things I care the most for, and the ones that I let guide me.
How about you? What purpose do you find for your life? Do you think we have a “cosmic purpose”, or do you agree with my idea that we’re free to decide it for ourselves? Please leave your comments below 🙂