As a 21 year old senior in college, the pressure to find purpose is more real than ever. We all know that nobody gets asked more about purpose and career choice, more than college students. At this point, I’m immune to the questions and I can always assume that if I’m meeting somebody for the first time that “what do you want to do after you graduate?” will be asked 9/10 of times. Questions like these, combined with my quest for purpose, have haunted me for years. And I can’t imagine I’m the only one who feels this way. See the problem for me is that in our world we’ve been taught that what you major in and the type of job you have, defines who you are. So we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to find that “thing” that will mark us as successful in the eyes of the world. This idea of “success” is typically associated with job rank and how much money you make. We’ve pushed aside passion and purpose for a bigger paycheck, and as a result people are more lost than ever before.
And unfortunately, not enough parents, adults, and professors teach us the most important lesson of all, that it’s okay not to know and that it’s okay to change your mind. Because truth is, most of us are confused about our purpose. So all I want to do is help you redefine what purpose and passion is. This is my journey of how I went from confusion to confidence over the past four years.
The Beginning of The Pursuit
As soon as I started college, I instantly began feeling pressure to find my purpose. I felt like I was always constantly asking myself “what is my purpose in life?”. And honestly, I had no idea, but being in college I searched for the answers within my studies. So like many others, I changed majors in search for more. Freshman to sophomore year I switched from journalism to Hospitality Management. Even though I didn’t always know what I wanted to do with a BBA, I knew that it would give me fundamental skills I would need no matter what career path I pursued. After this, I decided that I wanted to go into the world of event planning, particularly weddings. I had never done it before and had zero connections, but I thought I’d give it a try. I got an internship with an event planner here in Atlanta, and after assisting my first wedding I was hooked. I was drawn to everything about it, the glitz, the glam, the love, and the planning (being a natural planner & real sap). Quickly after that I worked my butt off to make connections, network, attend workshops, doing everything I could to get a job with an event planning company. During this season, I worked with so many planners, was offered great opportunities, worked tons of weddings, and eventually reached my goal, I got offered a real job. But in the end, there was still something missing. Something I was still in search of.
After a while, I began to accept that becoming a wedding planner wasn’t my purpose in life. Yes, it was something I was good at, I was offered so many great opportunities and honestly, I knew that it would have given me a solid plan for my life. But I knew, that it wasn’t GOD’s calling for my life, and the reality is, God is not a “play it safe” type of God. When He calls you to do something, it’s typically something that is completely and utterly outside of your comfort zone. After I gave up the wedding planning life, I began to go into a really sad, confused, and lost place. No longer did I have an answer for, “so what do you plan on doing after college?”
Here I was again asking myself the same question, “what is my purpose in life?”
Now throughout this season of my life, I did make a decision that I didn’t realize would make such a huge impact on my life. I was really unhappy with my body, my low energy levels, and my eating habits, so I decided to make a transition to a fully plant-based diet. You guys already know the spiel, about how it changed my life so I won’t talk too much about that. If you haven’t already read my article about it, go do that! But through the process of changing my diet I began to develop a true passion for healthy eating and education. I was shocked by the things I was learning about the effects of the standard American diet. The amount of people dying every year from diabetes and heart disease alone are staggering. People in America are more obese, unhealthy, and uneducated than ever before. And unfortunately, lack of education and resources are not just hurting more low-income and minority communities, but also killing them. Ugh, I’m going on a whole spiel. But, it KILLS ME. Anyway, through learning all these things and seeing the transformation in my life just from changing my relationship with food, I fell in love with cooking and baking. Overtime, I found myself obsessed with trying and creating recipes, learning all I could about fresh foods, and making things that not only tasted good but that also made you feel good. At first, realizing that God wanted me to go down this “culinary” road was very shocking to me. I never expected it, and was so confused how I was going to pursue it. But it was okay, because now I could come up with a plan and pursue it!
Everybody who knows me, reads my blog, or follows me on IG knows that cooking and baking is my thang. I really truly love it. I dropped my blog in October, and I was pumped, this was it, I’m going to pursue my passion for cooking and be great at it. Simple as that. So I started researching culinary schools that I wanted to attend after college and looking for new jobs. If I wanted to cook then it would only make sense to go to school for it, work in a restaurant, and try to become a chef, right? As I started going to interviews and getting offered jobs at restaurants I began to realize that THAT life, working in a kitchen, being in the BOH, working late nights, was not ME. I wanted to help people, I wanted to inspire people, I wanted to teach people, and I couldn’t do that at any of those places. So here I am again, feeling confused, lost, and STUCK. I started having little to no desire to create recipes for my blog, post my cooking videos, or simple just take my cute IG food pics. This thing I had hyped up, made me feel even more confined and confused. I had thought that I narrowed down MY thing, MY purpose, MY one thing that I could pursue and be happy doing for the rest of my life. So why am I confused?
So here I am again, in a brand new year, asking myself the same question, “what is my purpose?”
A few weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video by Steven Furtick about choosing our calling in life. He talked about how the idea that you have one “calling” or “purpose” in life, and that you must find it, pursue, and then do it for the rest of your life is a man-made idea. It’s incredibly limiting. God uses people by giving them talents and gifts that have the potential to serve a multitude of purposes. Or perhaps, God may call you to do one thing for a period of time, but that will eventually lead you to do something greater that is completely different. God is creative, multifaceted, and simply great. He doesn’t want you to focus on just one thing for your entire life. It limits our minds, creativity, and ability to be open to new opportunities when they came our way. Watching that video made me feel more free than ever before. Because I realized that the path God would take me down was going to be more intricate than I ever could plan or imagine. More intricate than a degree would ever prepare me for. And despite everything, I know that God has big plans for me and I have no idea what that plan will look or be like.
Confident In My Unknown Purpose
So I right this to remind us to stop limiting ourselves within the confines of this man-made idea of “purpose”. God is working in our lives ALL THE TIME. He is leading us, guiding us, and preparing the way for our journey. And don’t forget, that where you are right now is perfect. Because God is teaching you skills and tools needed to take you to the next level. Do not discount your present, because it is critical to your next. That doesn’t mean get comfortable where you are. If you are marked by God, He WILL call you to do something outside of your comfort zone. It will be uncomfortable, unpredictable, and seem almost impossible to accomplish. But that’s why we trust in Him. This road is not a straight path, it’s not black and white, and it may not look like somebody else’s. But lucky for us, God knew His plans for us, before we were even born. So enjoy the ride, trust in Him, and remember that you are destined for greatness.
A few weeks ago, I was eating lunch with my best friend, and He asks me “Maleah, do you think cooking is your purpose in life?”
… Here I am posed with the same haunting question about purpose.
But I answered so confidently and so assuringly
“No, but I know that my purpose in life is to serve God, to inspire, and to help others. And I don’t know exactly what that will look like, God may use cooking as the way to do it. But for right now, that’s all I can really be sure of.”