Co-anchor of the “Today” show, award-winning author and journalist Hoda Kotb’s newest book strives to inspire and prepare students for making the life-changing choices they confront in college.
“Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way” is a collection of stories that tell of the unlikely and unexpected journeys taken by everyday men and women in search of their life’s purpose.
From picking the right major to saying “yes” to the perfect job, college is filled with big decisions and forks in the road. Kotb said she hopes her latest book motivates readers to examine their own lives in search of fulfillment and purpose so as to guide them in choosing the path that is right for them.
“Sometimes people fall into things just because,” Kotb said. “They don’t make choices about where they’re going, but because of circumstances they wind up somewhere. So I thought this would be a good way to kind of try to figure out if we are where we should be. I think that we all probably have a destiny and somewhere where we’re supposed to be.”
Reflecting back on her own time as an undergraduate student, Kotb admits that graduating college without a job left her in a state of panic. Unfortunately for the then-20-something journalist, the 12 months following graduation brought little hope amid a surplus of dead ends.
“I got rejected 27 times before I got my first job,” Kotb said. “I had zero for like a year, and then I ended up getting a job in a little, map-dot city: Greenwood, Mississippi. I had to drive all the way there to get that job and I remember thinking to myself ‘OK, this is where we start.’”
When Kotb set out to write “Where We Belong,” she took to the Internet in search of inspiring, true stories to fill the pages. From the tale of an investment banker who left Wall Street to pursue a career in the church, to a woman from a broken home and blue-collar background who persevered her way into Harvard Medical School, Kotb’s search returned a diverse collection of compelling narratives.
The three-time Emmy award winner said she, too, has been inspired by her subject’s stories.
“No matter what you’re overcoming in your life to go from zero to Harvard is insane, and to become a doctor — it’s an ‘are you kidding me’ story,” Kotb said. “This girl did it against all odds; she did it without any help, totally on her own. I think that kind of thing is so inspiring, because what do you do when you’re on your knees? Do you give up?”
Kotb said she thinks her personal journey to realizing her passion and purpose in life is still ongoing.
“I think I’m partly where I belong,” Kotb said. “I enjoy my job, I love what I get to do. I love the people that I get to meet more than anything, but I sort of feel like I was destined to do something with kids. And because of life and circumstances and illness and divorce I wasn’t able to have kids myself, but I always felt like I should be teaching second grade or something like that. I think that is the sweetest spot for me.”
Going forward, the author is continuing to pursue her destiny by working toward developing a summer camp for children.
Ultimately, Kotb wants her book to be a source of inspiration for readers and a tool to awaken in them their lifelong passion and the drive necessary to pursue it.
“Often in our lives we get on a path because it is the path of least resistance,” Kotb said. “I think there are times when you need to make a sharp right turn or a sharp left turn to get to where you belong — where you belong professionally, spiritually, physically, emotionally … This is just a book about people on their journeys finding the sweet spot, a sweet spot we all have if we look for.”
“Where We Belong” is the third book that Kotb has published and is now on sale at bookstores nationwide.