“Ironically enough, when you make peace with the fact that the purpose of life is not happiness, but rather experience and growth, happiness comes as a natural byproduct. When you are not seeking it as the objective, it will find its way to you.” ~Unknown
Helping others has been something I’ve always loved. My empathic nature and ability to understand others has been a part of me since childhood. I have tried to help as many people as possible. It has been an honor to serve others.
The idea of my life serving a larger purpose within the universe has been the foundation of my whole life. My suffering and the life experiences I’ve had are leading me toward a grand destination, where I can look back and finally make sense of everything that’s happened and feel fulfilled. I’ve held this belief for so long and internalized this message so deeply that to think of any alternatives seems insane.
Let me share something with you. Fear is my greatest fear. Maybe my life didn’t align to fulfill some sense of greater purpose. My experiences, both good and not so great, were only meant to help me move forward in the unknown.
It has never worked out as I had hoped. And now I am in my thirties, and I have no idea what I’m doing. How do you find direction and purpose when there is no way to know what you are doing? Is it because the universe has left me like this? I’d like to share my story with you…
To escape from the small community I grew up in, I joined Air Force during my 20s. Because the military funded my education, I was able start a job while still young. I wasn’t excited about my career field in the slightest though. I was a communication officer. I hated computers.
I was looking to make connections with others and offer help. In addition, I wanted to help my faith group sponsor the first Pagan Chaplain within the Department of Defense. I asked the universe for guidance, and I received what I thought was an unequivocal ‘yes.’ So, I attended seminary and trained to become an ordained minister.
My health has changed over the years after my son was born. I can no longer serve on active duty, so I decide to change goals to become a chaplain for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Two years as a student Chaplain in VA Hospitals, supporting individuals in crisis and learning about mental healthcare. I also serve veterans from all walks of the life. I have applied to several chaplain jobs in the VA. None of them worked.
My family has moved many times. Everywhere we move, I try to apply for chaplain positions. Nothing works. Now it is two years since my last day at the VA hospitals. The universe is asking me again for direction, and I am still baffled by why my attempts at being a chaplain are not working despite my best efforts.
Life coaching is something I am interested in and have researched the possibility of obtaining a certification. These skills can be used to help a particular population. As a veteran, it was clear to me that my work at hospitals has made me feel connected with veterans. I started my coaching business to help veterans affected by trauma and post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
One year passes. My business classes and marketing classes have been completed. A website and all my social media accounts were created by me. Content is what I do. Then, networking with other non-profits or influential people is my passion. After nine months of constant effort, I only have one client.
My mental health begins to decline. Depressed, demoralized, and feeling like a failure are my feelings. Although I’m a great helper when I get the opportunity, it seems like everything is against me. In other words: I’ve come to believe that my self worth depends more on my ability to help people than it is my inherent worth.
This is where did it come from. What is the reason I feel like this? This is what I do. After some thought, I realized that my desire to help others is deeply embedded in my belief that I’m not worthy. I’ve been abandoned and rejected many times in my entire life. My history of abuse has led to a shame spiral that I have carried around by my desire for love and acceptance.
It is my belief that if I’m not fulfilling a specific purpose or giving back to people in some way then it means I am not living up to my life’s duty and am ineffective. Can you relate? How can we help?
This was a topic that I discussed with a friend. She helped me to realize many things. What is the true purpose of life? How do we know we weren’t meant to be kind to one person, or to step in at the right time to say something and then our lives are complete to be enjoyed till the end of our days? Is it possible to really understand what life is all about? Or is there a complicated web of feelings and experiences that has no plan?
I’ve given thought to these questions, and I find comfort in the answers I find in the little things: Coffee in the morning on my back porch. My son’s homework. Making a healthy meal for our family. Talking to a friend when I need their support.
I have to be intentional about not letting my mind wander to the “what if?” and “am I doing enough?” narratives in my head and take each day as it comes with what I can do in the now.
Gradually, I realize that what I do for others does not define my worth. The only thing I am responsible for is living a fulfilled life, with my main goal being to learn and grow. I don’t actually know if my life has a grand purpose, and for now that is okay. The little things are what I look for meaning.
Tiffany Andes, a mother and wife, is also a life coach. As an eight-year veteran of the United States Air Force—her career spanned several fields including Network Administration, Military Funeral Honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and Executive Support for the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff. She owns and operates Indomitus Life Coaching, helping veterans who have suffered from trauma, PTSD, substance abuse, and similar challenges to take back control of their lives.
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Tiny Buddha published the post Living Without a Grand Purpose – Why I Find Meaning from Small Things originally.