The confusion of purpose

Caragh McErlean/Staff

It’s probably not a natural human endeavor to preoccupy yourself with the idea of purpose. To think about things like where your next meal’s coming from and how you’re going to handle a presentation while running on three hours sleep seem like more natural concerns.

Compared with these more pressing issues, purpose seems like a vague concept, much more difficult to grasp. Perhaps because purpose is difficult to conceptualize, some of us switch our majors multiple times or engage ourselves with a wide of range of very different extracurriculars. Some folks, the more fortunate ones, decided when they were young what they liked and what they didn’t. It then seems natural to beg the question: what gives?

Case studies can help us answer this question. Bill Gates, for example, started coding in eighth grade. The icon Cher began singing and performing at age nine. Another example of an unnatural sense of purpose comes in the form of my brother Patrick, who’s been flying helicopters since he was 13 (in the presence of an instructor, of course) and is somewhat of a flying prodigy.

In his particular case, he fell in love with flight when he took a helicopter ride at an air show and never looked back. The unusual thing is that these types of people stay on a path, persevere until they reach some sort of desired destination. I’ve been toying with the idea that maybe their exquisite control of their craft represents a sort of mastery and that their continuance on such a path is imperative because it would be miserable to allow this sense of of artistry to go to waste. Empirically, we may never know for certain what causes these people to actually have their shit together before they turn 20, but it’s an interesting thing to think about.

For the confused student, we’re unaware of what drives us, what sort of all-consuming passion will leave us more likely to enjoy our life in the midst of our career-fair years. Personally, I’ve found it a convincing idea that being at UC Berkeley will alleviate our confusion. The continual questioning that college promotes might provide us with an answer that causes us to narrow our path until we can finally find our desired destination.

Like any exploration of a complex concept, this article might prove to be vaguely unsatisfying. If so, it’s an indication that maybe you haven’t found your definite path yet. It’s OK, neither have I. We can’t all be Bill Gates or Cher or my brother Patrick, but we can see what answers UC Berkeley can give us. As for me, I’m confident that we’ll all eventually find our form of artistry.

Peace, love, Clog.

Contact Melany Dillon at [email protected].