For the last quarter of 2022, I’ll be shifting gears and writing about career and business concerns for queer men. This month I’ll be focusing on finding meaning in life. I’m a gay man, how do I find purpose in life?
The Problem with Purpose
Whether we call it purpose, destiny, or meaning figuring out what it is and how to find it seems to be one of the most difficult things for people in our culture. Men tend to associate all three of these things with the business they’re engaged in. But does purpose always have to be about the work we do?
Finding purpose in your life as a gay man starts with understanding what purpose means to you. It involves letting go of all the labels and everything you’ve been taught and figuring out what you think will give your life meaning.
The Big Questions
The best place to start is to ask yourself some big, tough, questions. What is life all about? What’s important? What do you want to leave behind? They’re not easy to answer. But well worth the effort.
Spend some time considering them deeply. Be open to what comes up. You’ll get some answers, feel a lot of emotion, and perhaps come up with more questions. Figuring it will take time and patience. Be gentle with yourself.
The Mystery of the “One”
When I coach men about relationships I often bring up the idea of “the One” and how toxic it can be. The same holds true when you’re looking for meaning. You are not the same person you were 5 years ago. You have no idea who you might be a decade from now. How can you expect what brings meaning to remain the same?
Yes, some people have a powerful calling. But, even the great masters have learned and grown. They are most often remembered for their greatest contributions, but we forget what it took to get there.
Most of our paths unfold as we grow and often change dramatically. The shape your life’s work takes will change with you as the years pass.
It’s not always about Work.
Men spend a lot of time focused on work. Sometimes our obsession with it causes other areas of our lives to suffer. Finding purpose through work seems to be the most logical thing to do. But, is your career really the only place you can find meaning as a gay man?
You may find your satisfaction in being an uncle, or father. Creative pursuits may light you up and make life worthwhile. Pursuing higher education for its own sake may bring you joy and fulfillment. The things that can enrich your life are almost limitless. Make the time and space for them.
In the middle of my IT career, I was starting to lose sight of the things that really mattered to me. Work was demanding a lot of time and attention, shifting the things that brought meaning to my life to the back burner. Long before I decided to leave that career I took a step back and made more time for things that nattered.
I changed careers several years later. In the interim, I emotionally supported myself by doing things that were important to me. It’s up to you to decide how to define purpose and bring meaning into your life. But, whether it comes from your career or somewhere else, you can do it.