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One day it rains and you begin to feel dejected about the path of your life and you start scrolling through your Facebook page. You happen to come across the founder of Facebook making his commencement speech at the school he dropped out of.
“…I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating the world where everyone has a sense of purpose.
‘Purpose’ is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.
You’re graduating at a time when this is especially important. When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.
…I’ve sat with children in juvenile detention and opioid addicts, who told me their lives could have turned out differently if they just had something to do, an after school program or somewhere to go. I’ve met factory workers who know their old jobs aren’t coming back and are trying to find their place.”
Mark Zuckerberg said this yesterday in his speech to Harvard Graduates and I am thrilled to say that these words are beyond inspiring. What may have seemed like a speech dedicated to would be world leaders, he offered a genuine description of the world we live in today and what every moment means for our future.
From Mark’s address, what struck me the most was the inference he made about purpose, in that purpose plays a pivotal role in our mental wellness and that happiness is truly a communal pursuit.
The meaning we give to our life, whatever we stand for and most importantly, share with others underscores our purpose.
For some time I searched deeply for a sense of identity, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and I know for sure this has been one discouraging endeavour. We fight with ourselves to get where we want to go and where we want to be. I looked to others for truth, for meaning, for something that was worthwhile to my station in life- innovators, business and political leaders, civil rights activists or people who simply made it right with life.
Once upon a time, it was personal. I looked to my church for a community. I looked to my job. I looked to my school. I looked to my family. All institutions that failed me. Somehow I lost faith, I became confused. I looked around me and my only hope was to run away.
Getting up every day to a job – to the same routine, the same problems doesn’t really cut it for me. Quite frankly, I wanted to belong to something and for a good reason. I wanted to experience life beyond what I feel that I have to do and as what I know I ought to do. Knowing what I stand for is so much more important than clinging to things that merely replicates themselves to the same end.
A sense of purpose is what I strived for… technically, this need for a sense of purpose is purely human. It’s purely me.
Mark implies that this is how the mass feels about the world today. And hearing it from the college dropout, a world-renowned billionaire is sort of the now universal language I crave to hear. He can’t be that out of touch. On so many levels and every day I witness people fighting to make this world less politically driven and divided. And as much as those fighting for jobs and healthcare, there are so many people fighting for basic freedom and civil rights.
Mark explains that the world has changed. We are more reserved to our corners. Paradoxically separated and disconnected by technology and have to do’s. This frankly makes us more frustrated and depressed.
But, though he sets the tone, I wouldn’t imagine that Mark has all the answers. As one Millennial to another, he pointed out that we live in unstable times and now more than ever, creating the world where everyone has a sense of purpose is our greatest challenge into the foreseeable future.
How do we adapt? How do we catch up with this pace and culture of change? How do we save our communities and protect our mental health?
Mark said, “It’s up to us to create it so we can all keep moving forward together.”
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