Perhaps more rapidly than ever, my life is evolving. I know I want to be a journalist, so I am constantly observing the ways that I can improve humanity’s grip on the world through ethical and factually-sound writing. I am also exploring the ways that I can use my love of writing to be an activist. Until recently, my train of thoughts had ended there. I knew I wanted to write. Somehow, I vaguely assumed, my writing would improve the world’s conditions.
Now I have realized a flaw in my reasoning that has made me unsure of my future and question my own romanticized identity: I cannot solve all the world’s problems. I am not a savior whose power is of the pen. Suddenly, I’ve felt powerless. So, how can I contribute to the world—give back what I’ve taken—if I feel so small and helpless? The answer I found in the text of Do it Anyway by Courtney Martin: I would have to focus my “save the world” activism energy on issues much smaller and closer to home, an approach no more less honorable than my previous stance. Realizing this, I felt a burden temporarily lift off my shoulders.
I quickly realized, however, that I would have the difficult task of choosing which social issue to focus my life’s activism work on, a complicated choice combining self-identity, personal experience, and communal proximity. As I dove deeper into this question, I began to uncover that I am still discovering my own self-identity, navigating through a dark room feeling the ends of webs that I could spin into a future. I’m a feminist, environmentalist, writer, dreamer…
The reading The Ego-Function of the Rhetoric Protest by Richard B. Gregg further illustrates the internal struggle I face deciding my life’s purpose. Gregg argues that the “primary appeal of the rhetoric of protest is to the protestors themselves, who feel the need for psychological refurbishing and affirmation.” In choosing a social movement to associate myself with, I will answer my own self-identity problems and further develop my moral beliefs. Gregg outlines several conditions of one’s ego: ego-forming, ego-maintenance, and ego-diminishment. I feel I can obviously place myself in the ego-forming stage, as I stumble through days constantly processing the world around me. Where will my ego be involved?
There are several ways that I suppose I can find my ego and meaning of my life. Almost frantically searching, I am taking a wide variety of classes. I am diving further into the community organizations and issues that surround me. I am looking at my past, evaluating the parts of my life that were instrumental to my feminist and environmentalist identities. I am modeling myself after those who I label as courageous and selfless. And, I imagine myself in the future quietly succeeding, giving back to the world that has given me so much. Maybe I’m naïve for believing that my purpose and I will inevitably find each other and that my ego will blossom into the best flower of myself.
Throughout the course of this semester, this blog will honestly follow me as I navigate the rough waters of finding purpose in my life.