Different cultures place people in different patterns. You are supposed to live your life and act like everyone else around you does. You should study hard, work harder, have a family, a beautiful house, a dog, and watch the news every day when you grow up. Although these are not universal rules, we have all accepted society’s expectations and imagine that they define how our lives are supposed to look like. Life is not about wearing the best shoes, having the prettiest house in the neighborhood and scoring the best grades in class. Life is all about finding the things that matter and devoting every day of our lives to them.

Everyone has been trying to find out what life is at one point or another. Life is not an object; we cannot define what it is. It is a matter of how instead of what. It is a matter of how you spend your days and what you are contributing for yourself, your surroundings and the world as a whole. Once we stick our heads beyond the comfort zone of popular beliefs and expectations, we cannot help being frightened. Is it worthy to be different? Should I go back to being a conformist just because I felt safer among the crowd? It should not matter what others think of me, but it’s of substantial importance how I feel about myself.

Every human being has been given the gift of life with a purpose. We all have our mission and our lives would go in vain if we didn’t do our best to complete it. The purpose of some people’s lives is to have families and raise children; others are presidents and CEOs; some people are environmentalists, protectors, photographers… We can live a meaningful life only if we love the things we do and we are certain that there is nothing we would love to do more. We learn thousands of lessons at school, but no one teaches us how to discover our true interests and goals. Once we realize that there is a cause greater than ourselves, nothing should stop us from going for it.

The journey of life isn’t easy. There are always obstacles, hard times and doubts that make us doubt in our goals. Great people never give up from moving forward. Nekhlyudov, my favorite character from Tolstoy’s Resurrection, had the courage to break the illusions that society had wrapped around him. He broke free of the patterns he considered “normal” and was brave enough to seek for a heightened awareness of reality. That’s what I think life is all about. To become aware of the troubles in this world and do everything in my power to open the eyes of others and help them take a good look.

The only way to understand the meaning of life is to absorb all beautiful and dreadful things in our world and rise above the expectations that others have painted for us. Seeking awareness is not an enjoyable thing to do. As vulnerable and sensitive creatures, we ought to learn how to love our lives even when we feel miserable. We need to break through the shell of dull stupor and discover the meaning of life through a greater cause.