A Bumpy Road Can Still Lead You to Your Purpose
Monday, September 17, 2018TOPICS: Youth and Peacebuilding
If you would have asked my senior-in-high-school self what I was passionate about, I would have answered about a dozen different things. And if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I would have said “no clue.” It seemed like all of my friends were on a straight and narrow path to college and career — they knew exactly what they wanted and how they were going to get it. Me on the other hand… I was sure of only two things: I was going to major in English and I was going to Stanford. I figured if I was skilled at writing and reading and communicating, then those skills would transfer to any career. I was unsure of everything except these two things.
Finding Your Calling Can Take A Lot of Searching
So you can imagine my response when I was rejected from Stanford. It didn’t matter that I had applied to 15 other schools, got accepted to most, and got scholarships to some. It didn’t matter because all I wanted was Stanford. So instead of going to school at all, I wandered. I traveled and lived abroad. When I came home, I wandered more — changing cities and schools and my mind like a boss. Seven years, seven schools, two study abroads, and 20 countries later, I finally graduated.
The path from high school graduation to where I am now was not a “straight and narrow.” It was at times mountainous, sandy, watery, downhill, grassy, winding, full of rocks and crooked with trees. What I perceived as a failure at the time became an adventure full of learning, discovery, friendship, love, gratitude and opportunity. I had a chance to explore all the things I was passionate about, and, slowly but surely, began to narrow it down to the things that really, truly drive me — the things that I know I was put on this earth to do. Now I live that purpose every day.
Rediscover What Gives You Purpose
This purpose is what brings me to my two calls to action.
The first call to action is this:
You are reading this because there is something that drives you, something that gives you purpose. You may not know it entirely. You may have known it at one point, but you’ve pushed it aside, or you got distracted, or you dropped it in the gutter because you didn’t trust it. I’m here to remind you to tap back in, to refuel the tank, and to kick it into gear. I’m here to remind you to surround yourself with people who are pumped and driven and who share this common purpose. I’m also here to remind you to go out of your comfort zone because we don’t grow when we’re comfortable. Let me say that again: there is no growth in comfort. That means find yourself in diversity. That means make yourself a minority. And find something or someone to support.
Which brings me to my second call to action:
If you haven’t put the pieces together yet, let me make it more clear. Although I haven’t been explicit, everything I’ve spoken about is the Social Fabric Initiative to its very core: experience, opportunity, adventure, leadership, action, fearlessness, skill, passion, and connection. Connections matter. Without human connection, we are lost. How do we strengthen those connections? How do we build dense social networks? We venture out. We learn. We lead. We do. And we find others to share those experiences. And then our wisdom deepens and our circles grow. And a ripple effect takes place in our community. And before you know it, we have built a fabric of resiliency and love that protects us and binds us together. We become surrounded by people who support us the best way they know how — with time, with money, with resources, with food, with hugs. Whatever it takes! We do it because we want to add value to the human experience, to our human experience.
So I ask you. No, I beg you: find (or re-find) what drives you, and do not give up until you can connect yourself to others that share that passion. Find the right way for you to support that person, that group, that organization. There are many amazing organizations that are looking for partnership and collaboration, and of course that includes the Kroc IPJ.
Let Us Know What Drives You
At the Kroc IPJ, we are blazing new trails and strengthening long-standing ones, developing powerful new approaches to ending cycles of violence both locally and globally. We learn with Women PeaceMakers, local peacemakers and an incredible group of emerging peacemakers — whom, I have to say, have blown my mind this summer with their innovations and determination to shift the stereotype that youth are incapable, inexperienced and unable to make an impact.
I am blessed to work with an incredibly dynamic team of individuals at the Kroc IPJ that care deeply about peace. We are bold. We commit to excellence. We embrace collaboration and we promise to keep learning. And we have fun! We would love to find out what drives you and how we can support each other in a way that accelerates and amplifies our missions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us, to engage with our programs at the Kroc IPJ, and to learn more about academic opportunities at the Kroc School.
Thank you for holding your light and sharing it with the world. You matter. Our connections matter. And sometimes, we just need reminding!
This blog post is from Tina Medina, program officer of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice’s (Kroc IPJ) Social Fabric Initiative (SFI). Her words are slightly modified from their original version, presented during a speech at the SFI Summit in June 2018. That night, the audience found her words powerful and inspiring, and we hope you did as well.