Ask Ciiku: Where do I find purpose?

Dear Ciiku,

For a long time I thought things were going well, life was moving slowly, but with some sense of direction until the earth beneath my feet gave in about a year and a half ago. I’m just floating, or sinking, not sure. I lack purpose. I grew up in a middle class family and went to private school before joining a national school, clearing at the turn of the century. Y2K generation. Despite passing KCSE, I chose not to go to uni here and went for undergrad in the States. School was fun and I had a great experience both in and out of class. I have never regretted my major and the skills I picked up are useful and constantly refined. I got a job while studying and that was a learning experience I am grateful for, I continued with the job after graduation before moving to the UK for Masters. During this period I travelled a lot and the fellowship opened up the world beyond words. I came back soon after that and worked at a multinational for 3 years before moving to South Africa for a job. I had my friends and family and things seemed to be pretty good. There was some restructuring and my contract wasn’t renewed and I came back home with some chums and assured of a job in less than 3 months. In the meantime I started a small company running out of a car my folks had bought as a gift. I was overqualified for a few jobs I interviewed for and the prospect of employment wasn’t as alluring as before. I invested in my Ka-Biashara but that took time before picking up traction. The period since coming back has been a spiral into questioning what the fuck I’m doing with my life. I acknowledge the privileges afforded me. My days are now jumbled together as the business keeps making losses and I am not sure what the use is. There are days I just want to shout at the world, cry, and get over with life. The money I made won’t last long long and my folks are not an option. I have read almost everything I can find on purpose, religion, self-help, philosophy, psychology, All and still there is this huge void in my life. Nothing at all makes sense. My mum thinks getting married and having a family might help but I am sure marriage is not in my plan, not now at least. With the new year, it got exponentially harder. People were setting out goals and excited and I just couldn’t feel it but also questioning why I felt some feelings resembling guilt. I do want to have purpose, to stop feeling so hollow. I have set goals before that were as successful as never having been written down. It’s exhausting. Not sure how much longer I can hold on. Set up an appointment with a therapist before the end of the year and the sense of judgement I felt didn’t encourage a second appointment. I’m still looking. How do I live a full life? Where do I find my purpose?


Hi Q,

These are questions that for millenia have been debated and philosophied. I am not even sure I know where to begin without seeming to be writing empty platitudes. What is the purpose of life? What is fullness of life? I understand, more than you know, how it is to have done all these things and yet find yourself asking how you ended up at this point of despair.

The fact is there are things beyond your control, the economy etc but you can be you, find you – whoever that is. You can become the you that you need to be to make it in this world. Because this world is A LOT. And most often, we aren’t equipped to deal with it. Especially if you look up and around and realise that what society wants from you is not what you want for yourself. So I feel you, I feel what you are going through and whatever it is I am telling you, I have also told myself and continue to ask myself.

I think of note is to find out what it is you want and how you view life. What examples have you seen that show that life has been lived in full? If you were to listen to your inner voice, what would it tell you about what you need to do? I ask this because you definitely seem to know that you cannot find purpose in what your parents tell you to or in the insidious nature of capitalism. I think you also realise that no one can tell you where to find purpose or even how to live a life worthy of living. That can only come from looking inwards, in spending time with yourself. And that’s the thing you can control here.

I pose to you: What is it that brings perspective? What is it that you can do that makes you feel like you have some semblance of control? Aside from what socialisation tells us is a full life, what does it really and truly mean to you? Furthermore, how does it look like? Do you know? What are your priorities? What can

I am truly sorry that your experience with a therapist was terrible. I hope that you give it another chance, with another therapist. Also, Be kind to yourself Q. Even at moments when you feel inadequate, show yourself compassion. And I know this might not mean much but you are not alone in this, we are all making it up as we go along. I do hope you find clarity, peace of mind, courage in the face of all the unknown and ultimately fulfillment.



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