Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Purpose Found in Reflection

6Live life with a purpose. We often hear this phrase prescribed as a recipe for success. We are advised that living life driven by a strong sense of purpose leads to more meaningful and rewarding experiences. We strive to find the purpose that helps us define who we are and what we are doing with our lives. But as busy and often confused students, how do we find this elusive purpose?

While I don’t believe there is one right answer for everyone, I have found that the structured and intentional practice of reflection in my daily life has aided my pursuit to find purpose in my own life. Hopefully, reading this piece will inspire others to try it for themselves.

Intentionally reflecting empowers me to go beyond just going through the motions of life instead of merely watching from the sidelines. Reflection gives me an opportunity to stop and look for answers to the following questions: What motivates me? Why do I want to succeed? How will Georgetown assist in my growth as a student and an individual? What prompted my long-held desire to become a diplomat? Will my career ultimately define who I am? By setting aside time to reflect on these questions, I am forced to think about how I am affecting the people and community around me.

I can trace my discovery of the power of reflection to the end of my freshman Alternative Spring Break trip to Immokalee, Fla., where I learned about issues surrounding Hispanic and Latino migrant workers, rural poverty and modern-day slavery. With the help of a human rights group in the agricultural industry, I was immersed in the community of the migrant field workers. I met tomato pickers who described their usual workday as waking up before dawn, waiting in the parking lot hoping to be picked to work, taking a two-hour bus ride to the fields and waiting for the dew to break before picking. These men and women are paid at a rate of around 50 cents per 32 pounds of tomatoes — a rate that has not increased since the mid-1980s.

With no benefits, no health insurance and no sick days, constant uncertainty looms over these workers. Witnessing these injustices firsthand sparked a sense of anger in me and a desire to effect change. I asked myself: How do we allow this to happen in the United States? How can I help these workers? To what extent am I willing to combine my career goals with my desires to solve social justice issues? When these questions became overwhelming, I began to write down my thoughts as an outlet to my frustrations. I’ve kept a journal ever since.

I did not find the answers to all of my questions immediately and still have many left to solve. I tend to have more questions than answers, but I’m content knowing I don’t have to answer all of them now. I’ve realized that the path to those answers can only start with the questions. The process of tracking my thoughts has helped me to track the progress of my fears and motivations. Flipping through my journals, I can look back and see who I was as a freshman starting my Georgetown career, and this helps me understand where I am going next.

My search for answers has taken me on a journey of self-realization. There is no guarantee that I will find answers to all of my questions, but the journey itself clarifies the sources of my motivations and fears. For me, that journey is the purpose of life.

At times, the daily schedule of classes, internships, midterms and applications make it difficult to take the time and reflect. But I call on you to challenge yourself today. Take 10 minutes to write down your goals, and then continue to add your thoughts, motivations and fears each day. If you make it a habit to keep track of your thoughts, I’d wager it will help you to take control of your life.

Nursultan Eldosov is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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