Finding Purpose In A Greater Cause
September marked the biggest change in my life to date. I moved to London to embark on a degree, something that in the preceding months I could not have been more excited for. Living in the city I’d always wanted to live in, studying a course I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been accepted onto, and a long-awaited escape from life at home.
For 5 years now I have fought a battle with eating disorders, and depression for years beyond that. Up until now I ascribed much of their ability to survive in my life to living at home. Whilst I still consider that to have some truth to it, leaving home did not become the solution that I’d hoped it would.
Moving to a city alone, knowing nobody, and navigating making new friends while settling back into studying after time out is no mean feat, no matter how much you love it. London has turned my life into one of extremes. When I’m busy, I am really busy, which means that when I return to my room alone, I am really alone.
“Beyond the fact that this act of giving redirected my energy into something positive, it remedied how I saw myself.”
The sense of having only my mind for company is heightened (in its juxtaposition to the interference of the city during the day) allowing for negative voices to sound louder. I struggled at first to feel any sense of being settled. It wasn’t until two weeks in, when I went to the Extinction Rebellion protests, that I regained some peace.
I went along to the opening ceremony in Marble Arch and was confronted with a sea of people, placards in hand, standing together, listening to people, finding connection in the hurt that they felt for the planet and their urge to fight for its chance of survival. Having gone along to meet some family that I hadn’t seen in a while, I found myself instantly engaged—even emotional—and knew that I needed to give myself to the cause as passionately as those around me.
Depression makes it easy not to care—or care too much that it makes you feel even worse, so you stop caring in an attempt to make life bearable. Climate change is a huge thing—sorry if you didn’t already know, but the future is looking bleak. When you already feel bleak about your own life, directing your thoughts to the destruction of the world around you surprisingly doesn’t make things better.
This was different though. It was hopeful. Hope is inherent to giving, not in the sense of hoping to receive, but of hoping for a better experience. When you give a gift, it is in the hope that someone will feel uplifted. And in giving your time, you hope to help improve a situation. This was me giving myself to a movement that needs us all.
The need to save our planet and the time that we have to do so is of overwhelmingly greater importance than the size of my thighs or how much I’ve eaten in a day or how much I deserve. None of that matters in the grand scheme of life, and giving helps to remind us that other things matter more. Things like the connections that we can make with others through giving, connections that we deprive ourselves of when the thoughts in our head sound too loud and leave no room to be interfered with.
Depression and bulimia did not arrive in my life by invitation; I didn’t call out and wish for them to RSVP. Trust me, they were very much unwanted surprise guests. However, I may be guilty of being too polite and entertaining them for too long. I turn myself into the demon whilst remaining the victim simply through how I talk to myself.
Giving puts a halt to this, initially by being a distraction. It is something active. I got myself out to the protests and spent all day in the embrace of others, learning more about what is to be done and where I can fit in to the effort. Beyond the fact that this act of giving redirected my energy into something positive, it remedied how I saw myself.
Giving also has a connection to worth. Humans are not commodities but, in a sense, we do ‘up our value’ by giving. A purpose is found. When alone and depressed with nothing to do, I inevitably lose my sense of importance. My time on earth feels ridiculous and I feel lost. Giving to something that is far greater than you, such as the survival of the planet, is full of need and purpose and your involvement is important. Your life is necessary, and you begin to see it as so.