“The beginning of purpose is found in creating something only you understand.”

-Tyler Joseph


“What’s the point?”

This simple question, over the years, has easily claimed the lives of thousands of people worldwide. It’s among a lot of people’s last thoughts before they tragically take their own lives, and it’s often that people choose to leave this world because they can’t find an answer to this question. These three simple words can lead to very complicated and dark thoughts, and it’s  easy to become imprisoned. These thirteen letters can send you into a downward spiral, and climbing back up is not so easily done.

Clearly, purpose is not an easy concept for people. If you were to ask anyone (especially a young person) “What’s your purpose?”, they’d more than likely freeze up. The word instills a sense of fear inside all of us because, most of the time, we don’t know. We become so stuck in our routines and who the world wants us to be that when we’re asked who we really are, we freeze. We were taught formulas, vocabulary, and how to pass standardized testing in school, but we weren’t taught how to answer this one vital question. We’re all taking a test we were never told to study for.

So…how do we find purpose? I believe the search is best summed up by Tyler Joseph, vocalist of Twenty One Pilots: “The meaning of purpose, for me, is creating something…if it be by writing lyrics, painting a picture, by expressing yourself through art, if it’s photography, or music, or theater, or whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be artistic, but if you create something and only you know the meaning of it, that’s the beginning of purpose for you. When you’re in your room by yourself trying to decide if you should stay alive, you can tell yourself, ‘I should probably stay alive because I’m the only one who knows the meaning of that thing.’”  

As a strong believer in the use of art as a coping strategy, this quote especially hits home and sums up what I believe the search for purpose is. While I still find myself searching for my own purpose, I use painting, drawing, writing, and playing/listening to music to find it. My art is an outward expression of myself without actually having to explain myself unless I decide to. It’s a form of catharsis and infinitely comforting to pour yourself into a form of art and know that you’re the only one in the world who truly knows what it means. People can look at your outward expression and appreciate it, but they will never know you unless you decide to let them.

When you find yourself trapped in these thirteen letters, expand and pour yourself onto paper. Let your feelings flow through watercolor, release your anger in the staccato taptaptaps of your keyboard or the pressure on your pencil. Play guitar until you create canyons of callouses on your fingers and turn up your speakers just a little louder when you’re feeling alone. When you’re low, you’ll never be alone as long as you have art.

The next time you’re feeling low, take out a piece of paper. Start writing or drawing…anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s “good” – art is subjective, anyway. Make your feelings loud and clear in something that only you understand. Your art is your own language, and you can leave it lost in translation if that’s what you choose. Find yourself through the freedom the paintbrush offers you.

If purpose is the buried treasure, then art  is the map and the key to unlocking it. You have a reason for being here and endless value and potential, and you have the means of finding purpose, so what are you waiting for? It may be hard and some days you’ll be discouraged, but when those days come, just sharpen your pencil a little more and buy new paints. Your purpose is waiting; don’t let your life be lost in the search for it. Many have lost their lives in looking for it, but we have a chance to break the cycle. Find yours and help others on their journeys through offering love and support.