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.