“Wasting time” is what led James Perry to become a regular cast member and writer for BYUtv’s family-friendly sketch comedy show, “Studio C,” Perry told the audience attending his BYU TEDx talk in March.
In his talk titled, “How I Stumbled On A Purpose,” Perry described how he was jealous of extremely successful people and initially viewed not measuring up to that standard as a waste of time.
Perry chose to study mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University because he thought having a career in a booming industry would bring success, and therefore purpose.
“It was very important to other people,” Perry said in his TEDx talk. “It was important to the world. It was a practical thing I could do to help the world and do things that I thought would make me feel I was living with purpose.”
While in college, Perry joined Divine Comedy, BYU’s sketch comedy group, to help relieve the stress of school and blow off steam. At first, it seemed like a waste of time, something that didn’t serve much purpose.
“I realized that I had more purpose and was actually more useful by doing something that was important to me instead of doing something I assumed was important to the people that I wanted to help.” — James Perry, “Studio C” cast member
Divine Comedy developed into “Studio C.” After Perry graduated in 2013 and had landed a mechanical engineering job, “Studio C” offered Perry a full-time position.
Perry accepted the position, fully intending to do comedy for a while, waste some time and return to what he thought was his purposeful career in engineering.
After working for “Studio C” for a few seasons, the cast started receiving sincere thank you letters from fans describing how their comedy sketches had made a positive impact in their lives.
“It almost started to seem like my goofing off was the thing that had purpose,” Perry said. “And that’s where my whole perspective changed. I realized that I had more purpose and was actually more useful by doing something that was important to me instead of doing something I assumed was important to the people that I wanted to help.”
Perry offered three main tips for finding purpose.
- “Don’t assume there is only one answer.”
- “Find your style.”
- “Collaborate with others and your environment.”
Perry encourages others to look outside themselves and explore opportunities to find a purpose in life.
“I don’t think you find yourself by standing in a room by yourself staring in a mirror,” Perry said. “You do it by going out into a world, expanding beyond your little bubble and understanding what about the world resonates with you.”