Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

Student view: Finding your purpose in life

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a recent graduate from Princess Margaret Secondary School in Penticton

A bicycle really isn’t that useful.

Don’t get me wrong, it is extremely useful for moving a person across the ground quickly. But beyond that one specialized purpose, you could prop open a door with it? Maybe find someone you don’t like, and throw it at their car? Yes, a bike can do these things, but so could a rock.

READ MORE: Life, liberty and the judgment of those first two

That one special skill though, is converting human pedal power into forwarding motion. That is where a bike shines like no other. Similarly, humans are also able to do any number of random things. Heck, we can breathe, think, blink, even hold doors open and vandalize cars far better than a bike ever could. But just like a bike has its one specialized use, humans also seem to find that one purpose they fulfill like no other. People seem to be driven to do this in life, and this drive compels us to do an array of awe-inspiring and crazy things.

READ MORE: Student view – Taking out the trash (not literally)

Now, saying someone has their purpose in life, doesn’t mean they’re the best in the world at it. There are millions of people that have spent years training to be doctors. People that have made it their purpose in life to help the sick and injured. But, if you were to a doctor into the cockpit of a space shuttle, then a bicycle may fly it just as well as that doctor. And that’s because it’s just not their purpose. Doctors aren’t trained to fly a space shuttle. Just as astronauts aren’t trained to maximize the profits of a technology company, and CEOs aren’t trained to effortlessly win arm-wrestling contests. But when someone finds that purpose that move them, then the drive to fulfill that purpose will push them to do truly amazing things like cure diseases, fly into space, create smartphones or even become the world’s greatest arm-wrestler.

But this purpose in life isn’t always a career or competition. You might work a job you dislike, and your arm-wrestling skills might be C-plus at best, but it could be your purpose in life to love with all your heart. That might be the thing that fulfills you, just as someone may be fulfilled by building the coolest model train setup in their basement. As humans, we crave this fulfillment. It’s a reason to get of bed in the morning and it makes life worth living. Which leads me to the darker side of instinct.

READ MORE: Student view – Being open to changing your viewpoint

Suppose you’re someone that doesn’t really like spicy food. Now imagine you’re forced to eat nothing but bland and tasteless food for a month. By the end of those 30 days, I’m willing to bet you’d be clamouring for a bottle of hot sauce just to spice things up a little (pun extremely intended). Now suppose you take someone who hasn’t had much direction or purpose in life, and you offer them purpose, friends to work towards that purpose with and something in bigger than themselves to belong to and be a part of. You’ll quickly begin to see why cults prey on the young and disenfranchised of the world. We all possess this drive for purpose in life, and unfulfilled it can compel people into finding the craziest of solutions.

READ MORE: Student view – Penticton senior dishes on high school life

It’s the human condition to find meaning and purpose in life. It’s a condition that can compel us to cure disease, create loving families, push the boundaries of science and the human body and even build wicked model train sets. And people have capitalized on it to create the likes of the Nazi Party and Scientology. It’s a powerful and dangerous trait we all share. Yet, if we never pursue it, life is nothing more than a bike you can’t ride and an endless buffet of bland food with no hot sauce in sight.

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a recent graduate from Princess Margaret Secondary School.

To report a typo, email:

Just Posted

Boy’s best friend gets help from South Okanagan community

Community rallies around dog that needed surgery for two broken legs

Private viewing for Elijah-lain Beauregard to be held in Penticton

Afterwards, there will be a celebration of life next to the Okanagan Lake,

South Okanagan-West Kootenay Conservative candidate delays office opening

Delay is due to supporter and former politician Stockwell Day having ‘emergency diplomatic mission’

Super League Triathlon in Penticton cancelled

It was confirmed Monday next month’s planned Super League Triathlon has been cancelled

Truck lifts power lines causing fire near Penticton school

Emergency responders dealt with two incidents at the same time near KVR Middle School

Granfondo cycles through the South Okanagan and towards 10th anniversary

The ninth year of the cycling competition saw 2820 riders tour the South Okanagan

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

UPDATE: special council meeting set for Wednesday, Basran in talks with province

Opponents of McCurdy house says she won’t ‘relinquish possession’ of more than 14,000 names

Most Read