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What’s My Purpose Now?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a photojournalist. That profession combined my love of writing, photography, and travel. I thought it was perfect for me. That dream gave me drive and purpose. I could see myself jetting around the world, taking stunning photos of people, places, and things. My accompanying articles would be interesting, full of stories, and with a poignant look at life.

Pulitzer Prize, here I come

In case you haven’t taken a look at the list of Pulitzer Prize winners in, say, oh, 30 years, I didn’t win one. I never achieved that purpose because I never was a photojournalist.

My interests changed in college and I graduated with a major in anthropology, classical studies, and a minor in history. I wanted to be an archaeologist, or an archivist (like my dad), or a museum curate, or a researcher etc., etc. I could see myself with my fedora and my bullwhip, traveling to exotic places and, basically, digging ditches for them. Wow, the excavation sites I helped on were exciting, even though they were local. Wow, my university’s museum was exciting, and the items not on display were even more interesting. I helped the Educational Department for a while and knew I’d found my purpose.

In case you haven’t taken a look at employee profiles in all the cool history museums, I’m not one. I never was an archaeologist or museum curate; the job market was just too tough.

So I became an office worker for an insurance agency. I felt like that was my incredibly boring purpose so I could eat and pay rent.

Luckily, I soon found better work with my credentials and went into closed captioning and transcription. I did work for CBS, PBS, NPR, Netflix, and provided transcripts for global political summits, along with presidential speeches. I loved it. It gave me a lot of purpose, knowing how important the work was and how much it helped people.

Then I got COPD and had to quit

For a long time I was kind of lost, not knowing if I had a purpose anymore, and if I did, I couldn’t fathom what that would be. I started to feel useless. I started to lose interest in things like there was no reason to do anything if it wasn’t going to be big. I started to doubt the meaning of life. I got really depressed.

Slowly, over time, I realized two things:

One: The purpose of life is to live it. Two: I was still living.

Now, life with COPD is not the same. I’m not the same, either. I don’t have the same interests. I am no longer doing what I used to think were my only meaningful tasks, like working and traveling. Only when I looked back at my life, I saw that had always been the case. As I grew and my interests changed direction, my purpose grew and changed direction.

It dawned on me that I can still have a purpose in life with COPD

Just a different one. So can we all.

We can all find new purposes in life, new meaning. It doesn’t have to be saving the world or becoming rich and famous. It can be anything, big or small. Maybe our purpose is to love our friends and family. Maybe it’s having faith. Maybe it’s enjoying nature and this earth we live on. Maybe it’s a hobby, or learning, or teaching, or creating, or advocating, or sharing thoughts, or simply just slowing down and enjoying the rest of our lives. Whatever our new purposes are, we should keep them near and hold them dear. They are all worthwhile.

As for me, I’ve taken up photography again and I get to write articles that (hopefully) help other COPD patients. So, in full circle, as life sometimes happens, I did become a photojournalist.

I’m still waiting on that Pulitzer Prize, though.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • molly
    11 months ago

    Very good read…… you helped me, just by reading your story. I can tell you are young and have your life ahead of you, but your outlook is beautiful….. molly

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thank you, Molly. I’m so glad my article helped. I’m not as young as I wish (who is?) but I think I’ve got a couple of decades left to enjoy.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi molly,
    thank you for your kind words.
    Barbara Moore (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Michelle.vincent, this is a great article and oh so true.
    Most of us with COPD have to change our life style but remembering that life is NOT over is the key to surviving with COPD. We just need to find what our next life will look like and then we are all set.
    Barbara Moore (site Moderator)

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thank you so much, Barbara. I agree; life is not over!

  • KevinDavitt
    11 months ago

    Michelle – Do you ever display your photos? FB maybe?

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    11 months ago

    Hi Kevin,

    Besides the articles that Leon mentioned I do post them publicly on Google+ and on my Facebook page for my friends. I don’t have any type of professional website, though. Thanks for the question; I’m glad you like them!


  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Kevin – I’m sure when Michelle reads your post, she will respond personally. In the meantime, I thought you might want to take a look at this article she posted – it has quite a few of her photos within the body of the article: (it’s from 3 years ago). She’s posted quite a number of good articles here on If you search, you can find them – she has put pictures in several of them.
    Hope this helps you.
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    11 months ago

    It’s my pleasure, Michelle. I follow with great interest all of your articles! Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks Leon!

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