“…and so is this skirt,” Jessica joked. She had just come home exhausted from another late night working as a waitress at a downtown bar. Jessica’s father had recently been laid off from his 17-year career at a technology firm, and she was picking up the slack to pay for her tuition. The two of us were in our last semester of college and our conversation left me thinking about what a truly purposeful life might look like. How can I pursue this “purposeful life” post-graduation to avoid my fear of accepting monotonous jobs meant only to pay off student loans? I was suddenly asking myself a question this inexperienced 22 year old wasn’t ready to answer.
After graduating from college, I began a two-year Fellowship with El Pomar Foundation. The real life experience and knowledge gained as a Fellow has helped me to answer some of the questions I once so fearfully asked myself. I now say with confidence–as a slightly more experienced 23 year old–that a purposeful life is a philanthropic life; and a philanthropic life is a life lived for something larger than you.
For El Pomar Foundation, that “something” is the state of Colorado. Since 1937, El Pomar has made it a point to ensure that the spirit of Mr. Penrose and his love of Colorado is engrained in El Pomar culture. The employees of El Pomar are just as passionate about Colorado as they are about protecting the Penrose legacy. No, not all El Pomar employees serve on nonprofit boards or give a percentage of their paycheck to charity, but their passion for Colorado allows them to go to work every day believing in something larger than themselves. I believe El Pomar Foundation employees live philanthropic, purposeful lives.
For me, that “something” remains unclear. At 23, I realize that I have a world of options to make purpose out of. I could very well find my larger purpose in entrepreneurship, education, or perhaps even motherhood. Amongst the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: life is too short. The Fellowship has taught me to live for a purpose bigger than myself. In my mind, that’s not just the definition of philanthropy, that is the definition of a life well lived.