What is our purpose? Why are we here? Does our purpose change based on our experiences?
One of the most difficult parts of a survivor’s journey is recovery. For a long time, I rejected the entire notion of recovery – what did I need to recover from? I wasn’t addicted to anything.
That was my own ignorance talking. Despite years of therapy for depression and anxiety, I had never really addressed how to recover from the childhood sexual abuse the next door neighbor perpetrated against me when I was eleven, or the aftermath of living with PTSD for decades AND how to live with it now.
It’s the human experience to ask these questions. For survivors, we often find ourselves weighed down by this burden and the desire to move beyond it. Like anyone, we want to find meaning, discover joy, and fill our time on this rock in a way that’s fulfilling. To find our purpose.
The Difference Between Our Jobs and Our Purpose
Many survivors (and people in general) tie our jobs with our purpose. One does not have to equal the other, though it can. This is a Western way of thinking – we equate what we do for a living with our purpose in life. However, the two can be entirely different.
For example, my neighbor works a day job at a bank and then comes home and coaches soccer, his passion. Soccer gives him immense joy – banking does not.
See the difference?
Then again, many survivors are creatives (in my case, a writer). As a survivor, advocate, and author, my purpose ties fairly seamlessly to my work as an author. The doors open to one another, and create conversation starters and jumping off points.
For example, writing my first Broken book, Broken Pieces, inspired me to start #SexAbuseChat on Twitter, to help other sexual abuse survivors come together once weekly as a community to discuss various issues we face and how to deal with them.
It’s not about me promoting my books (something I don’t do much on Twitter anyway) – it’s about making the most of my visibility to help others and create a place where they feel welcome., aka advocating, which helped me find my own purpose.
Being an author is only one part of publishing – because if you want to sell books, you truly need to see yourself as a publisher, not simply as a writer (but that’s a post for my business blog).
Yet, writing books and advocating for survivors is not my day job. My day job is running my BadRedhead Media business, which pays my bills and provides for me and my kids. As a single mom, it’s important to know I have a steady income coming in. Being a solopreneur is tough, though I’m thrilled to finally be working for myself (I started in 2011) after working in Corporate America for 17 years.
How To Find Your Purpose
As I researched for a Twitter chat on finding our purpose, I came across this wonderful article on Verily Magazine by Jodee Virgo, MFT, with this fabulous list she often uses with clients who are flailing about or stuck.
I suggest working on one or two questions a week (this isn’t a process you must rush) and writing in your journal (if you aren’t journaling yet, start). Journaling can be anything you make it – a word, a sentence, doodles, photos, letters to yourself or others, poetry, thoughts, or just plain what you did that day…whatever works for you.
Work these questions into your journaling if you want to find your purpose:
01. What did you love to do as a child?
02. Where does your mind drift when you daydream?
03. Where and when do you feel the happiest?
04. When do you feel like your best self?
05. What do you value most in other people and yourself?
06. What inspiration, idea, or vision keeps coming to you?
07. Who inspires you with their passion and purpose?
08. If you could do anything in the world without worrying about time, money, or energy restrictions, what would you do?
09. What’s not working in your life?
10. What do you do most naturally, with effortless ease?
11. What would your future self say to the present you?
What Comes Next?
Now that you’ve identified a few areas you want to focus, you have more of a sense of direction. As I discuss with writers stuck on the concept of author branding, finding your purpose is kind of (well, very) similar.
What topics are you passionate about or an expert in? What are you naturally drawn to or have a talent in? Research them. Write about them. And when you’re ready, share them.
We’re human, which means we’re innately curious about life. We may have a myriad of interests, yet eventually, we find our way. Something slams into us with a huge force and says, this is it, dummy. Whether that’s a positive or negative force, it’s kinda hard to miss.
Purpose doesn’t have to be some lofty, pie-in-the-sky unreachable goal. If your purpose is getting out of bed every day, cool. Your purpose can change and grow as you do.
Here’s what I mean: I in no way thought being sexually abused as a child would ever turn out to be a good thing. Still don’t. However, somehow I’ve been able to merge my writing, strength, resilience, honesty, vulnerability, compassion, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and advocacy all into one big smushy thing I refer to as my purpose.
It’s a mess, but it’s my mess. And when I decided to share my purpose, I did.
Want to share this post? Here’s a ready-made tweet (just copy/paste):
Is our job our purpose? Is writing our purpose? What’s the meaning of it all? Here’s one take. This is How To Find Our Purpose https://buff.ly/2G3N0FV by @RachelintheOC #Life #Purpose #RealLife #Survivors #Writing
Read more about Rachel’s experiences in the award-winning book, Broken Pieces. She goes into more detail about living with PTSD and realizing the effects of how being a survivor affected her life in Broken Places, available in print everywhere!
About Rachel Thompson
Rachel Thompson released the BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge in December 2016 to rave reviews.
She is the author of the award-winning, best-selling Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Book Festivals), and the bestselling, multi award-winning Broken Pieces (as well as two additional humor books. Rachel’s work is also featured in several anthologies (see Books for details).
She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, Feminine Collective, Indie Reader, Medium, OnMogul, Transformation Is Real, Blue Ink Review, Book Machine, and several others.
Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live weekly Twitter chats, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST), and #BookMarketingChat, co-hosted with author assistant Emilie Rabitoy (Wednesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST).
She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. A single mom, she lives in California with her two kids and two cats, where she daydreams of Thor and vaguely remembers what sleep is.