My Art Has Always Been My Purpose

by Serina Gousby

Our purpose is a driving force of life. It makes us excited, anxious, and prepared to face the world every day. However, there are some of us who are still figuring out what our purpose looks like, even if it’s staring at us. Even if it’s inside of us, waiting for it to be identified.

After Chadwick Boseman’s passing, many of his quotes, particularly from his Howard University Commencement Speech, began to resurface. Living in your purpose was such a strong point he made, and I remember hearing his words back in 2018. At the time, I was within two months of my current job, and eight months into my blog—still trying to find my purpose. I didn’t realize that I had already found it.

I was thinking about purpose as early as 15 years old, in the midst of depression. Ultimately, writing is what kept me living, figuratively, and physically, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Poetry, for most of my childhood, was used to express emotions that were often hard to communicate in normal speech, which has helped me and also caused unnecessary drama. As I went into college and dipped my knowledge into Black Studies and journalism, my writing shifted from an emotional focus to an impactful one. Whenever I performed on stage, my poetry celebrated blackness, from my natural hair to Breonna Taylor. It took a while to truly embrace that. Whenever I told someone I met that I was a poet, they would ask what type of poems I write. I never knew how to answer that, but now that I know that my culture is rooted in all of my poems. Now, “Black culture” is usually my answer. 

Writing in my Alma Mater’s student newspaper allowed me to shed light on important stories, especially Black people. I was the only Black female editor on staff by the time I graduated in 2016, and every piece I wrote was geared toward understanding and awareness, and how to solve a particular problem. My college years prepared me for this blog to expand my thoughts, now with emotion and impact, to help those on self-love and growth, or encourage others to embrace the joys and interests inside them.

As an ambivert, it’s hard at times to use my voice unless there’s a reason, and much of my creativity speaks for itself. While writing has been my foundation, other methods of art have guided me through my purpose. I’ve been doing calligraphy for almost two years now, and it’s hard to describe how much peace it gives me. Most of the time when I do it, it’s when I leave my phone or other communication devices in another room, and I solely focus on designing pieces. Just this year, I decided to document some of it on a separate Instagram account, but it’s been difficult to stay consistent. I don’t actually use it for exposure, but more of an extra platform to share inspiration or peace. That has filled my purpose to an extent, but it also fuels me when I don’t have anything to write about.

Just this past week, I bought paint because I want to have blended backgrounds for canvas pieces in the future with my calligraphy. This new avenue of art also taught me how to paint sunsets and oceans, just from watching videos on YouTube. It’s invigorating; not once did I think I would be painting, or even learning artistic skills outside of writing, but I am, and now I see that I may have two purposes. The first is to always expand my creativity, while the other is to use my creativity to shed awareness and inspiration. For the latter, I’ve often felt discouraged because I’m not yet reaching thousands or millions of people, but I have to remind myself that growth takes time. Social media isn’t the only way I can reach people, and if I can help at least one person with my work, I’m living up to my purpose. If I stopped sharing my art or even stopped making it, I don’t see how else I could live by not using the gifts that were born in me.

I’m excited to see where my creative journey goes, and I’m sure that I’ll be trying out more things that fulfill me in the future. Dancing has lived in my daydreams for years, so I’m waiting for the day when I have the courage to learn a routine, or even dare to see myself do it on camera.

Finding your purpose is not actually the goal. It’s more about identifying it in yourself. It’s already in ourselves, but life and our experiences often lead us to it. It took me a while to identify my interests and skills, which developed over time. When I did, I had to figure out ways to use it to make life worth living each day. No matter what job I have, it always has to serve my purpose in some way. It’s the source of my happiness and motivation to keep going. 

If you have ever told yourself that you don’t have a passion or purpose in life, I’ve said it too. You do, it just takes time and deep thought. We weren’t born into this world just to make money and sleep. There’s something in you that you want to provide and give to the world, and that “something” could be just as simple as the gifts you give to yourself.

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