Purpose Over Popularity

Brogan Gerhart

Speaking as a senior in high school, as a student fully prepared to transcend into the glorious world of higher education and adult life, as a restless and vivaciously curious member of human race, I must say that I, and I do not believe that I am alone when I say this, am terrified.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I know that I’m smart… Maybe more book than street, but I figure they go hand in hand. I know that I’m strong and that I’m capable of achieving great things, but gosh, as I sit here and type, in hopes of inspiring some sad sap in a similar disposition as myself, I’m starting to realize that… Wow. I am just as capable of making horrible decisions as I am of making good ones. I have the power to change my life in any way that I choose. And part of me hates that – that I have just as much power to fail as I do to succeed… Just as much power to stumble down the wrong path as I do to find my way to the right one.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Why you’re still reading and why any part of what I’m saying matters. It’s all about purpose. Motives. What and who we, as unique and influential individuals, live for. Why we make the decisions that we do and who we really have to live with when the choice has been made and we’re left with the good or bad consequences that follow our actions. As I’m beginning to spend more and more time out in the big bad world, on my own and left to my own devices (working, attending community college, applying to schools far away from home, spending excessive amounts of time and money both utilizing and wasting the newfound benefits of my ever-expanding freedom), I’m starting to figure out that while life is difficult at times, while it has its ups, downs, and rollercoaster corkscrews of what may look and feel like death, life, if lived to its full and intended extent, can actually be pretty awesome.

It all starts with you. The first question that I’m going to ask you, although certainly not the last, is what do you want? Seems like a pretty simple question. Have your answer? Now think to yourself, why do you want what you want? Do you want that college acceptance letter so you can go off and pursue your dreams, to kick off your college career at the university all of your friends are going to, or to take your parents’ advice and attend the school that they recommended? This is just an example of course, but I want you to know that any of these reasons, as well as others left unmentioned, are completely fine. As long as you are 110% happy with your decision. Take some time to yourself alone to really reflect on what you’d like to do and how it’ll help you in the long-run. Or hell, if it really means that much to you, how it helping you in the short-run will eventually contribute to your overall happiness. It’s all about you and what you want out of life and out of how you plan to live it.

Things will change and that’s okay. Whether it’s because you are moving away from home, taking on a new responsibility or job, or simply adjusting to the many different relationships you will begin and end with the people around you, life’s going to throw a few curve balls your way… And it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re going to catch them. The only thing we can expect out life is change, and I truly believe that change is the greatest opportunity to pursue a happy and healthy life. With change comes fear, but with change also comes the strength and courage to overcome it. Transitioning into a new chapter in your life can bring about all kinds of different exciting experiences that might have been unavailable to you before. No matter what these new experiences hold for you, know that it’s important to maintain a positivity and open-mindedness that is essential to getting the most out of adapting to new aspects of your day to day.

Getting off the path can be just as important as staying on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I wanted to do something, set a goal to achieve it, and then along the way to completing it, decided that I wanted something completely different. It’s okay to end up somewhere that you didn’t initially set out to go. It’s okay to not finish everything that you set out to complete, but know that making the decision to discontinue one of the many journeys you’ll take in your life shouldn’t be influenced by those around you, but by you and yourself alone. It’s good to prioritize and to take time to think about what you want to do, but if you know in your heart that your decision is to stop something, then stop it.

Choose purpose over popularity. No matter what you decide to do or what path you choose to follow in life, it is of the utmost importance that you do what you feel is right. Whether you are the ship pushing against the waves, the cliff that stands strong against them, or the plethora of serene sea life that lives fruitfully by flowing with the current, be in the moment and be happy with your place. Know that if you feel right with where you are, then you are where you should be. Also, know that if you do not, you have the power to change it. Strength is not determined by the way we choose to walk, or by who sees us hold ourselves a certain way. Strength is the power we feel in our feet and our chests, and the openness we feel when we pursue our dreams with passion and confidence.

We may not always know where we are headed in life, but we can, as young adults prepared to take on the world, be sure of ourselves in and happy with each step of the way.