TED Conversations

Elizabeth Rivas

Struggling Student,

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What is your purpose in life and how and when did you come to realize it? In what ways are you now living towards your purpose?

After having lived for 21 years I would have assumed when I was younger that by this time in my life, surely I would have figured out my purpose. Of course, this is not the case. I have been thinking more and more about my life in terms of my true purpose. I may have a general idea where I want to go in life, for example, I am planning and studying hard so that I can successfully transfer to UCLA, my dream school. I also know that I enjoy working with children, learning about the biological sciences, writing poetry and fiction in my free time, and sharing my ideas. I was hoping I might be able to learn how members of this wonderful community called TED has come to learn their true purpose. Share with me with your lightbulb moments about the exact moment when you realized you found your calling? Or maybe share your not so lightbulb moment. Maybe it took you years and years to discover your calling in life. Either way, I am eager to hear from you and how you not only learned what it is you want to do with your life but how you are implementing those desires today


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    Apr 15 2013: I always hated the question because I've always found it to be malformed.
    Its like asking 'where do you go after you die'.

    Its assuming a foundational fact and you're supposed to answer accordingly, but the 'fact' hasn't been established that its even true, so its a false question.

    If you want to ask 'what is the purpose', then you have to prove that a purpose specifically exists.
    Ironically, doing so answers your question, so you ultimately invalidate the question either way..
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      Apr 15 2013: Well doesn't every one of us human beings have a purpose in life? I don't believe that we wander around aimlessly like chicken without heads. And in choosing what to do with the rest of our lives, maybe we don't think about it in terms of something that serves a purpose at the moment, but like another commentor said, we only realize our purpose in retrospect.
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        Apr 16 2013: I am just drawn to reply to your comment....yes everyone has a purpose and no purpose is greater than the other. Sometime the purpose might to lying down lazily enjoying the moment...and feeling the bliss...other times we might be hooked in our cubicle or internet networking and sharing ideas and feeling "alive"...life purpose is a continuous river...do what you do best at the moment..then move on to the next thing...study hard and transfer..that is your purpose for now....study subject of your interest that would be your purpose.....love yourself and others and don't forget to take a break and do nothing...that still a purpose....the job you get..give it your best...and so on...
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          Apr 17 2013: I think you explained purpose beautifully by saying that it's a "continuous river" and that we should do what it is we do best at the moment and move on. I appreciate your comment just like everyone else's comment, it's been helpful.I'm very glad I asked this question because it's a topic everyone can talk about. We're all on this planet working towards something

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