Student Ambassador Blog Articles

How Serving Others Can Bring Purpose & Joy Back to Your Journey

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

How Serving Others Can Bring Purpose & Joy Back to Your Journey

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Payton Oxner


Oxner, Payton 2Is the pressure of choosing a career scaring you half to death? Did your feeling of purpose get lost somewhere in the stress of school? Are you crying in the library reading this? If so, this article is for you, so give yourself a minute to read this (I promise it will help). For me, a reminder of who I was brought joy back to my journey.

 I can remember feeling lost, broken, and pumped full of stress when thinking about my career path. I was two years into a biology degree, yet the thought of writing my personal statement made me shudder because I didn’t know my purpose. I felt like an imposter and started to believe that I didn’t really belong in the medical field. This feeling was terrible, but this feeling of defeat helped me put my ego aside and unlock the truth of who I wanted to become. My compass was spinning, trying to find my purpose, and I needed someone to give me directions.

In order to get directions, you have to ask someone who knows where they are going. For me, that was my grandpa. Simply put, my Grandpa Tom is awesome. Time spent with Tom is sure to be full of adventure with great wisdom sprinkled in among a slew of dad jokes and old movie quotes. One day when feeling lost, I asked him why he chose to pursue his career in education. To which he responded, “I just felt like the noblest thing I could give someone else was an education; I think the best thing any of us could do is joyfully serve others, no matter the profession.”

 It was so simple but so big. My grandpa didn’t tell me what I should do; he just told me how I should do it. I think many of us want more than just “getting by” in life. We want to do something noble. We want something that fills us with a feeling of purpose in the morning, giving us the sense that we are on a hero’s journey. For me, this idea of service to others did just that. It reframed my focus on life. Life wasn’t about me anymore. It was about how I could nobly serve others, which brought me tremendous joy.

Serving gave me a sense of purpose, and I feel it can do the same for others. Here is why:

  • It’s all-inclusive: Serving others does not require a fancy certificate that says we are qualified or successful. Anyone can serve in some facet, and you don’t have to wait until school is done.
  • It’s independent of our feelings: Serving offers lasting fulfillment, regardless of our personal emotions. Even at the end of a bad day, you can still know you made a difference in someone else’s life.
  • It can relieve stress: When we are focused on helping others, we have less time to worry and focus on our own lives. Try encouraging others before your next test; it may take the pressure off yourself.

Where does your joy overlap with this world’s great needs? Serving others was only half of Grandpa Tom’s equation. We also should be joyful when we do it. I found this joy in optometry. The opportunity to build into patients’ lives while also helping them see the world a little more clearly excites me and feels like an honor. Optometry is a great profession, but any profession can be great if you use it to serve others. Servant leaders are needed as much in schools, jails, and kitchens as much as they are in clinics. So, whatever you do, do it for others. Don’t wait until you have the credentials to do so, either. Encourage your classmates, put stray shopping carts back in the racks, hold the door, and smile at someone today.

Finding your purpose can feel like a never-ending maze of twists and turns. It is scary and can be downright overwhelming. I found peace when I discovered the idea of serving others, which brought more meaning and fulfillment to my days. When searching for purpose in your life, let loving others guide you, and you may stumble upon an answer.

Click here to read Payton’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at 

Oxner, Payton 1


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