Finding Purpose in Responsibility: And Why We Love Superheroes
At some point in our lives, we have been on the pursuit of finding purpose. The biggest problem in finding our purpose really comes from finding out what purpose is at all. The dictionary definition of purpose doesn’t necessarily help us too much in our search. True personal purpose is something a little bit more ambiguous and hard to pinpoint.
What this results in is a gap. We cannot find the answer to a question that we don’t know. We are missing part of the equation. We cannot find out our purpose unless we truly know what purpose means and how it manifests itself in our lives. So the true question is finding out what the question is. What is purpose, and where can we find it?
Who’s Your Favorite SuperHero?
My favorite superhero used to be Batman. He was focused and always had an answer to anything. With Marvel doing so well in the box office, I’ve started to grow a liking into Captain America.
Who is your favorite superhero? It seems that most of us have a favorite superhero. It might be the one we feel we relate to the most. It might be the one with the coolest powers. The question is, why do we have such a draw to the concept of superheroes? One would argue that we love superheroes so much because they are given such an obvious and fulfilling purpose. They are literally fighting bad guys to save the world. What can be more for filling than that? If you were a superhero, your purpose in life would be so tremendous and obvious that it would never be a question again. You saved the world. What more can you do?
When you look at it though, what is being a superhero all about? Yes, they get all the fame, cool costumes, and excitement that comes along with it. However, when you see a superhero, they most often aren’t sitting there soaking in the limelight. Even Iron Man, a superhero notorious for showboating, actually spends most of his time in a worrying state of stress and building for a possibly disastrous future.
In reality, superheroes are burdened with huge and tremendous responsibility. The weight of the world rests on their shoulders. Their purpose comes in their responsibility to uphold the safety of our planet. Even though this may seem too much for anyone to bear, is this burden necessarily a bad thing?
What is Purpose Simplified?
There is a view that purpose is really just the responsibility that is bestowed on us. It is not pretty or glamorous most of the time. Most of the time it is filled with worry, stress, and pain. It is not really responsibility unless it requires hard work and sacrifice, right? Purpose is starting to sound real fun right now I bet. That is the point.
Purpose is supposed to be hardship. While it is supposed to be rewarding and fun, that is not the point of having it. Our purpose is the responsibility that we have two others. Our purposes what we are able to give. For us to truly give, we have to forgo some pleasure in return. We have to do the hard work that it requires us to do for us to be able to give something truly of value.
Misunderstanding of Purpose
The reason that we like superheroes so much is that they are given purpose that lasts the rest of their lifetime. Once they get their powers, they are a superhero and it is their job to save the day. That is not how real purpose goes. In reality, real purpose is an ever-changing experience. We have some purposes that last decades, and we have others that last only a few days, or maybe just a moment. We don’t always have this one big purpose that carries us on throughout our lifetime.
We might have 3 different purposes at a time. One might end. You might not find another for a long time. We have a purpose to raise a child for 20 years, then they are grown and that purpose changes. Your job is one purpose you have, however fulfilling it may be.
Purpose is a Struggle
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have in pursuing a career is that they try to find something that they enjoy doing. That is what everyone says. Find something you enjoy. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it is pointed at the wrong thing. It is pointed at finding something that brings you pleasure, which won’t actually bring you fulfillment.
The real track for finding purpose and fulfillment comes, not from finding something you enjoy doing, but in finding something worth doing. You obviously need to live what you do, but that real fulfillment comes from loving the contribution that your job brings to others. Purpose is a struggle, and that is why its worth it.
Why does your purpose need to contribute to others? Why can’t it just be something that’s fun to do?
Humans have an innate desire to connect. We have to or we go insane. We feel best when we are a part of something bigger. The best way that we can feel a part of any group is through the contribution we give to that group. We can’t feel proud of something that we did nothing to help build.
Don’t be Sisyphus
The story of Sisyphus is one of despair. Sisyphus is a man cursed to push a boulder up a hill needlessly for the rest of time. There is no reward for getting to the top-- if there was a top. He is forced to undergo needless pain, with no purpose forever. Don’t burden yourself with things that don’t yield positive responses for yourself and others. You are meant to seek contribution, not torture.