Finding Your Purpose

By Suanne Kilgannon, BI

After completing my communications degree at Radford University, I served as a leadership consultant for Alpha Sigma Alpha. I did what I loved and loved what I did because it resonated with me. I felt like I made a difference. I helped members grow into women of poise and purpose and strengthened our chapters. I learned a great deal about myself while on the road visiting chapters, most importantly that my purpose in life did not lie in the communications field, but was to educate others and help them attain their best.

After that year of travel for Alpha Sigma Alpha, I did not know how to live my purpose through work so I stayed involved as a volunteer. Professionally I settled for a job I hated, but I still found my outlet through Sorority. I could not integrate my two worlds. Sorority lifted me up but work was dragging me down. My work had no meaning to me. I tried to ‘fake it til you make it’ but I was really fooling no one, especially not my boss. I was fired. I was crushed. I was humiliated. I could not fathom going back home with my tail between my legs. I believed my life was a failure at the ripe old age of 24.

After much reflection and coaching from mentors and friends, I finally realized that I could fulfill my passion of helping others grow and get paid for it! In a viral video, comedian/actor Jim Carrey says “. . . you can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” I went back for my graduate degree and started on my path toward my nearly 30-year career as a student affairs educator, living my purpose while helping students find theirs.

To be honest, it has not been easy. Life happens. Relationships come and go. Family and friends have needs. Careers take twists. I am pulled in too many different directions. I doubt myself. I fail. Years go by and I realize that I am out of focus. I don’t feel right and I make poor decisions. I struggle to remind myself to get back on track.

But I cannot give up. Try, learn and repeat. The Ritual tells us of the legendary Phoenix rejuvenating itself to be stronger and more beautiful than ever. I remind myself that I can do that too. I feel and think differently when I do what I was meant to do. I go through the world in a different way when I live my purpose.

So ask yourself, “Does this give my life meaning? Is this my purpose?” Be willing to put yourself on a constant feedback loop in your head and do that gut check. Listen to what your body tells you. Listen to how you feel when you do what truly resonates with you. Listen to how you feel when you do not. I believe that each of us is here for a purpose. There would be no point to us being here if there wasn’t. You owe it to yourself to find your purpose.

10 responses to “Finding Your Purpose”

  1. Chiquita C. says:

    I can completely relate to this article. I work in a field where I am not completely happy. I remember about three years ago a EF4 tornado struck our town. I volunteered everyday we were out of work and I loved it. I think maybe I should be doing something to help others. I also love history so maybe it’s something in that field. It is anything but what I am doing now. I am still searching for my purpose in life. This article let’s me see I am not alone.

  2. Brenna F. says:

    This was a very relatable article. There have been many things in my life that I haven’t completely love doing or situations that have gone wrong, but everything ended up alright. You just have to find what makes you happy and use that as your driving force to get through the bad situation.

  3. Marilyn Q. says:

    This article resonated with me because the past two years of college, I have been working towards a degree that was safe and secure, but not what I loved. I have so many expectations of the perfect job, but I forget that it will all mean nothing if I do not love what I do and am not happy with my job. Reading this motivates me to trust the path I am going down now.

  4. Melisa T. says:

    This article was very relatable to me because being that I am 21 years old I feel like I need to have a plan for my life and be headed down that path, but from reading this article I know it is okay to not know what my purpose is yet. Thankfully, I know my purpose is to help others, whether it be mentally, emotionally, physically, I know that this is my passion and I shall aspire, seek, and attain that purpose.

  5. Alexandra P. says:

    Above everything else, this article has made me feel at peace with my life and with the direction that it’s going. Do I know precisely what my purpose is at this exact point in my life? No. But this article has helped to reassure me that no matter what happens throughout my college career, I will find my purpose and become confident enough to chase after my dreams.

  6. Emma H. says:

    I think that this journey of yours is such an important learning lesson, especially for those of us in the middle of, or just getting out of college. ASA provides a type of support that is hard to find out in the real world, and making sure to remember that finding what you’re passion is what life is all about, will make things so much more bearable. Finding our purpose in life is the goal.

  7. Megan G. says:

    I think this article is so relevant in the lives of Alpha Sigma Alpha members. Many of us as college students don’t know what our purpose is yet but are trying to figure it out through the courses we enjoy and through ASA. This article spoke to me in that we shouldn’t accept a job just because the pay is high or because it’s what we have a degree in. If you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point in you participating in it because it’s not your purpose and because you’ll be miserable. It also reassured me that it takes time to find your purpose. You’re not going to automatically know what your purpose is; you have to experience life and learn what you like and dislike.

  8. Lauren D. says:

    I really related to this article because I have been really stressed about school and what I’m going to do next with my life. But this article helped me calm down and really think that everything will work out. Maybe not the way that I first planned it to be. My ASA sisters have gave me so much support and advice that has helped me so much as well.

  9. Emmie M. says:

    This article is very empowering. She is so strong by not letting the downs in her life take over. She overcame them and succeeded. I think it is hard to figure out your purpose until you have had many experiences in life, but when you do find that passion there is nothing that can stop you! ASA will continue to lead me on a path to find my purpose, and give me long term friendships and support in order to help me grow.

  10. Abigail N. says:

    I know already as a freshman I had been so dead set on a career ever since high school, but then after my first semester, I decided to change majors. It was scary but I knew that I would be happier in my new major long term than I did in my original. Thankfully I now have a new group of sisters who can help guide me to the right path because I never would’ve thought that I would join a sorority but here I am. Anything can change in an instant and having support changes everything.

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