This week’s blog on exploring what we believe to be our highest purpose scared me more than all of the other blogs put together. Mostly because, after the time we took in class last week to think about our highest purposes, I realized I have absolutely no idea what mine is. By nature I am not a very self-reflective or spiritual person. I guess I have always known this about myself, but I became even more acutely conscious of it after reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert as well as a few other blogs by fellow classmates. I know what I like and dislike, what I’m good at, what my weaknesses are, but besides some of these more obvious traits I could spell out in a Facebook “about me” page, I don’t have much insight into the inner workings of my brain or heart, let alone soul.
With the 6 PM Wednesday deadline to figure out my purpose looming over my head, I began frantically flipping through Gilbert’s novel, trying to find something amongst the pages upon pages about spiritual enlightenment and talking to God that I could actually relate to. The section that jumped out at me was when Liz decided to be the “Quiet Girl in the Back of the Temple,” only to be assigned the position of key hostess. She goes on to explain how trying to be something you’re not divides you from God, and in finding your natural character, simply as God created you, you will come to know God. “God isn’t interested in watching you enact some performance of personality in order to comply with some crackpot notion you have about how a spiritual person looks or behaves,” explains Liz (192). I don’t know if God is watching me or not, but I definitely understand the whole “trying to be something you’re not” conflict, since that was me all elementary and even some of middle school. My childhood attempts to fit in can surely be attested to the process of growing up, and I know that that need to alter myself is gone. I guess you can say I know I am who I am, but I don’t know who I am…does that make sense? Liz talks about how she can modify herself, but can never defy her true character, never become “That Quiet Girl.” And yes, I am acquainted with my personality and can tell what I will or won’t feel comfortable with, but what about stepping out of my comfort zone? Is that trying to be something I’m not?
A few other people mentioned in their blogs that their highest purpose is teaching. As a mentor at the Ashburton School for my service learning, I can most definitely attest that teaching is not for me. As an English major, it is usually assumed that I will go into the teaching profession, and although I admire those who do, I never have and never will be interested in becoming a teacher. I simply do not have the patience to teach children, or even people my own age for that matter. But I force myself to be something I’m not for 5 hours a week. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Do I feel the planets align while I force Spanish vocabulary words down the throats of my 6th graders? No, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I get a “shout out” at the end of the day from one of my scholars who was excited about our session.
Last class we talked about how brave Liz Gilbert is for traveling across the globe without knowing a soul, and some people commented that they could never do something like that. All I was thinking was yeah, me neither...but I still want to. I am a person who probably couldn’t survive a weekend without my planner or at least a few post it notes by my side. But the prospect of hopping on a plane and taking the next flight out or even backpacking across a country are things I desperately want to do someday, no matter how unlike my natural character they are. Sometimes I need to force myself out of my comfort zone, and while I may not be acting according to my natural character, I think this not only helps me find out who I am by recognizing what I’m not, but challenges me to experience things I otherwise wouldn’t.