Do you ever think about your purpose in life? Well, I think about it all the time. I can’t help it, I just do. Wondering what I’m supposed to do. When I was a kid I just kind of figured I’d grow up to be awesome and extraordinary and I would do something so amazing that I would be famous and the entire world would know who I am, and I’d be one of those people you learn about in school. I knew I was awesome, and even though no one else knew that, one day the world would figure it out. I was a hopeful idealistic kid, and still am that way mostly. But then one day I realized: I am not extraordinary. I am just ordinary.
I knew that would happen one day, I always used to hear about how you grow up and you’re your idealism. You forget about all the dreams you had when you were a kid and settle for being boring. But I thought that doesn’t happen until your thirties or forties when you find yourself stuck sitting at a desk job all day and you have a midlife crisis. But in any event, I realized that I am plain old ordinary. Maybe that is an excuse I tell myself, a way out of having to put in all the effort and all the hard work that it takes to be great, but the truth is that even if I have the potential to be extraordinary, I am not there yet. I always dreamed of changing the world, and I will probably always hold on to that dream, but it seems far off in the distance, and so untouchable. How will I ever get there?
Some days I feel lost, like I am never going to find my direction and unique path in life. The way for me to make my small, tiny mark on the world. Not because there is no one to point me in the right direction, but because it seems each path has a big huge sign in front of it that stares me in the eyes which says, “Nope, not this one. Try again.” No way seems to be the right way for me. Where do I go? Where do I fit in in this big world? I hope that when I die G-d doesn’t look at my life and point into the moment in time when He created me and say, “Well, that was pointless. You missed what you were supposed to do.”
Sometimes I look at myself and all I see are my faults, my weaknesses, the areas where I am lacking, or where others are so much better than I am. The areas that I wish I excelled in, but let's face it: I don't. What in the world can I do that no one else in the entire world can do? I lose sight of who I am. It reminds me about a lecture that I listened to by a woman who was homeless for about a year, and she started off the lecture by saying “I am a journalist.” She explained how when she was homeless she just became this homeless person and lost that part of her identity. She was always the same person, but how she thought of herself was different. Maybe I’m ordinary, but somewhere buried deep inside I can be extraordinary. Yes, I have weaknesses, but I have strengths, too.
People always ask these questions like "what is your goal in life" or "what is your purpose" or "what do you hope to accomplish," but those questions seem to imply that there is just one goal or purpose, and you just have to get there. That's how I always thought it was. I just needed to find the place I wanted to get to, and then get there. As though there is this one spot that you need to get to, and then you're done. I once listened to a great shiur by Charlie Harary (related to Purim) where he says that each day of your life is part of that purpose. It’s not this one big thing that you get to one day. Every single day is a little tiny piece of it. Every day is important.
Most people are ordinary. For most of us, our purpose is not something big like curing a disease, ending slavery, creating a new invention, or being the first one on the moon. But there are people who have a huge influence on their own small world- on their community, on their family, on their friends, and to those people, they are extraordinary. And that is what I strive to be. G-d gave us life to be extraordinary in our own small way, even if the entire world doesn’t recognize our accomplishments. Extraordinary means finding meaning in every single day, and every single moment. It means that what I accomplished today, however small, is important.
I am probably never going to be famous, and that is quite alright with me. I think that’s a dream I’m ready to give up. But I am never going to give up on my dream of being extraordinary.