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Footprints All Over The World - Lucy Arellano, 21

I finally figured out my purpose in life! This is a huge deal for me because I struggled with this for so long. I thought about it all the time, but became frustrated with not knowing and left the thought alone for a while. After another argument about doing better in school, my dad told me, “What’s your purpose in life, understand that, then work towards that always”. He repeated over and over, “Do you want to be successful”? Of course the answer was yes, but “success” is such a vague word that could mean so many things, and finding a purpose in life was so intimidating. I felt the pressure all the time. I was in college by then, almost twenty-one and still felt that my life had absolutely no direction. There were posters with the word “success” all over the place at my old high school. The word “purpose” is thrown around a lot online. There are tons of quotes. One day my dad insisted that I tell him my purpose in life. I told him I needed time. I thought about it for days, but I had nothing! Also, the idea of knowing my purpose didn't make sense to me. How was I supposed to know my purpose without knowing my future? My past didn’t seem to help. I didn't know what to say. I was lost. I finally came up with “doing well in school to have a good career” and that just led to more questions. What does that really mean, he asked. Plus, I'd said that in the past and he wasn't taking the same answer this time. He kept asking me more questions, but I didn't know what to say.

He often said, “you can’t just tell yourself to work hard”. Then added, most of the time “that doesn't work, it will only motivate you temporarily”. When he said that, in my head I thought, “That's so true”! But I wasn't going to tell him that. I could be so motivated sometimes, but it always faded away! Dad always talked to me about wanting success for myself. For some reason he always switched to speaking Spanish when he wanted to encourage me. He often told me, “Hay tantas cosas hermosas en la vida”. Then he always went straight for the kill and broke my heart into pieces every time he finished with “Cosas que yo no pude vivir”. I know his stories word for word. I like them, but they are mostly about how he struggled in life. I always understood that he was trying to get me to find my purpose in life and aim high. Still, the problem was that I had no clear picture of what that meant to me.

I know this will sound very odd, but my purpose in life is to go on vacations. That’s it. My purpose in life is to go on vacations. Let me explain. The idea came as I observed my best friend’s family. Antonio and I grew up together and I spend a lot of time with his family. His family took an annual vacation every single year. Their conversations, reasons for saving, and dinner talks were all about planning for their vacation. In his family, an annual vacation was a must. They have an entire shelf of albums. They've been everywhere! They plan for weeks and months. They decide together and then get away from the city, work, and all the other hassles that make life boring. Once they come back, they have endless stories about what they saw and did. I was always in awe when I heard them reminisce. I’ve seen them looking at maps to figure out there next family vacation. They always research places to eat with locals and away from tourist areas, which I think is so cool!

Watching them plan was always fascinating me. When I was a little, I used to think that they were rich, but there’re not. I asked them once about their family tradition. My best friend’s mom reminded me that they use coupons sometimes and they don't buy things they don't need. She also said that vacation has always been a priority in their home. I’ve seen them researching deals online. I noticed that the whole year revolved around their vacations. For example, they requested time off from work way in advance and when Antonio was in between semesters or during time off when we were in high school. His dad explained everything in a different way. He started with a question. He asked, why do people go to work day after day and year after year? Then he answered his own question, which was so true. He said, “to pay bills and debt, that's it”! Most people work to pay mountains of credit card bills, making other people rich. Which explains why I know so many people that live paycheck to paycheck. Then they try to make themselves feel better by buying more things that they don't need. We work to pay our bills of course, but more importantly to enjoy life by going on vacations.

I couldn't speak. I was trying to process and absorb everything they were saying to me. It all made so much sense. Family vacations are expensive. Its sad, but I grew up watching them go on their annual vacations as I stood behind because my family couldn't afford to go or afford to send me with them. For all of those reasons I started to make sense of what I wanted for myself. I’ve figured that I want vacations with my family and friends. That has become my purpose in life. Here is the most important lesson I’ve learned. The purpose of school, money, and working hard all leads to one thing, vacations with friends and family. To me, this is the best way to enjoy life. It's changed me completely. This idea excites me and has made me feel like I’m working hard in school for a major reason – a real purpose. This has all changed my life completely. About a year ago I decided to start working part-time in order to save up. Dad had a hard time with that, but I’ve kept my grades up. I switched my major to international business. Also, I’m taking classes to learn to speak Japanese because I find the culture and language fascinating. And because going to Japan is one of my major goals in life.

So far I’ve planned and have gone to two places. I’ve kept it local, but the trips count as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gone to San Diego with friends and to San Francisco with family. I had a hard time convincing my parents to go because they are homebodies, but I persisted and used visiting other family members as a cover up. It worked! I liked the idea of planning and saving. I had something to look forward to. Honestly, I think of those two trips as the best times of my life. My parents and little sister were so happy. I also felt happy. Truthfully, my parents nagged all the way there, but they were happy once they were there. I asked them once we were back if they would go again. I was afraid of their answer, but a simple yes meant so much to me. The importance of our vacation was about the many conversations that came along with organizing, experiencing new places, then looking back to think about fun moments together. I want to do better in school to have the choice of a well paying career – for vacations. I want to work, while I go to school to save up – for vacations. I want to enjoy life with family and friends – as we plan and experience cool moments on vacations. In essence, my purpose in life is to leave footprints all over the world with family and friends. Then come back with great memories! When I shared this with dad a few weeks after our first vacation he just looked at me and said, “que bueno, para ver tantas cosas hermosas en la vida”. I just smiled and put a calendar in front of him and asked him to start thinking about some dates to request time off. I look forward to our next destination.

~ Lucy Arellano

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