Growing up believing with your whole being that a perfect God has an infallible purpose tailored individually to your identity means that, when that bulwark faith is ripped away, it is near impossible to find anything that compares. It is difficult to feel that a purpose like that can exist in a world without a benevolent, guiding force.
So far, after the ache of piecing together what remains of my identity without faith has largely been numbed, my search for purpose has ranged from wholly passive to what feels like stumbling in a random direction once every few months when my motivation flares.
I retain the lingering habit of my earlier days of eagerly awaiting the end of the workday or workweek so I can do what I like, but when I get home, I am often met with boredom and overall lack of desire. Bursts of fixation are welcome, and I stride into new hobbies and interests that captivate me for a few weeks or months, before they too fade away. So far, the list includes philosophical study (a semester), axe throwing (most of a year), sailing (10 months, reluctantly ongoing), archery (2 months), drawing (a week), game development (a month), and 3D modelling (a month). That last one is still hanging around in my head, but not by much. Do I pick these things hoping to find purpose? No, I suppose not. But on some level, I hope they lead me to it.
The last couple of days, I have theoretically — and that’s a heavy caveat — conceived of a scenario where I believe I would find purpose rivaling that of one chosen by God. That scenario would be working for SpaceX, helping to make their Starship program to take people to Mars a reality. I have high confidence that SpaceX will be the entity primarily responsible for making humanity a multiplanetary species, and they will do it within my lifetime. Nothing calls to me as much as this.
I currently work a quite comfortable job. I do not have to do much overtime. I am paid very well. I have opportunities for learning and advancement. Throughout my 6-and-a-half year career so far, I have taken great pains to ensure good work-life balance for myself, and have been successful in doing so. In the hypothetical scenario where I got a job at SpaceX, I would be knowingly and willingly throwing that away and essentially dedicating whatever years I put in to the cause. But, for the first time ever, I cautiously believe it would actually feel like a cause, and not just a job.
The specifics of the scenario aren’t the point, though, especially given it’s a highly improbable scenario in the first place. The key takeaway for me from this post and my musings over the last few days is that if I have identified one possible scenario that could give me the sense of vital, grand purpose that I crave, there could exist other scenarios, with much higher probability of occurring than this one, which do the same.
In other words, I have established that it is possible for me to find a sense of purpose even without faith.