Flying Away: The Millennial Struggle for Purpose

Investment banker turned purpose-finder, lifelong learner and entrepreneur

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Investment banker turned purpose-finder, lifelong learner and entrepreneur  

It only dawned upon me during my second year working at a reputable and inspiring investment bank (full of talented, kind and crazy-smart people) that I had no idea who I was.  I had majored in Philosophy at Georgetown University and had been trained to think critically on every aspect including my being. I found myself  doing just the opposite. Where was my “psychological gymnastics” as Professor Nancy Sherman would say? Nowhere to be found.

I remember sitting in my mentor’s office discussing Camus’s The Stranger (the French version, of course) when he abruptly interrupted me, saying something:

“Why are you even here? You are not meant for finance. Go and fly.”

I remember contemplating if I had finished my tasks of the day but later realized he was referring to something bigger.

All around me I saw similar existential questions mainly at night. In the morning, I saw no one doing anything about it. After two years at any corporate-level job, most of my friends resonated – they shouted through endless banter and long nights to control the emptiness: what is our purpose?

That conversation with my mentor was the most important piece of advice, and in hindsight led me to where I am today. Quitting meant crossing comfort zones into boxes of discomfort, struggle, newness and most importantly – enjoying that process.

I spent some time in Asia trying to learn about how we are wired, acquiring accurate self-awareness and how to make the process permanent – maybe even translatable into a career one day.

I wish I could say it was reading a book that gave me the ‘aha’ moment but it was even simpler than that. Honesty.

I was honest with myself about what I enjoyed: I started helping students with an emphasis on holistic education. After a few months, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

That led me to starting Ascend Now in Singapore, which does just that: helps students discover their purpose. We support students globally across Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and the US.

Our main focus with students extends beyond test scores and results; it is founded upon the premise that learning about oneself is the most useful knowledge one can acquire.

Only then does the world really open, and you can fly.

Let’s Fly,

Devi Sahny

Founder & CEO of Ascend Now

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