Passion, Purpose, Calling

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love
It will not lead you astray” ~Rumi

A few weeks ago while catching up with one of my favorite Uncles, he asked me to have a conversation with his eldest daughter, who is in her last year of high school and planning to go on to university to study actuarial science. He is concerned that this particular path of study is not one that offers plenty of employment opportunities. I don’t know anything about being an actuary, so I can’t say if this is indeed the case.

He  seemed to think that “I” could offer her practical advice that might encourage her to consider a different path.

I wondered what on earth I could possibly tell her. I didn’t say to my Uncle that in fact I felt like the least qualified person to advice a young person on a career path. Particularly at this moment in my life, when I feel more confused about what I’m doing in my own career than I did when I was her age.

I always felt certain that by the time I reached the age I am now, I would know exactly what I should be doing with my life. In fact, the opposite is true. The only thing I seem to know with any certainty is that what I AM doing as it pertains to “work” is not quite right.

I left  a fantastic job to become self-employed because I no longer wanted to do work that didn’t matter deeply to me. I felt a strong sense of mis-alignment. Something was just off.

Fast forward 2 years and I feel stuck again. I still find myself doing work which is meaningful to the world, but somehow it is still not providing the kind of satisfaction I expected that it might. Something is still not quite right.

Not long after my conversation with my uncle, my brother asked me if I had gotten caught in the trap of making a living at the expense of  doing what I am most passionate about.  I had to answer yes, because it is true.

Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the work which I do and I am fortunate to work with organizations whose work  is to make the world a better place. This is certainly meaningful to me, yet the pull of what I really love is indeed stronger. I have a strong sense that I am not yet doing that which is my truest calling.

In truth I’ve never fully expressed what it is I really love. Mostly because it always seemed frivolous to me. I grew up in a time and culture which valued practical professions. Accounting, medicine, engineering, banking. When I was in high school I decided that when I went to college it would to get a “Management Degree”.  In retrospect I’m not sure what I thought I’d do with that degree. I just knew I’d be a “business person”.  In reality I think that the business path was the one of least resistance. I did not excel in mathematics or science, so management was really my only choice. It was also sufficiently professional and respectable and seemed to offer the promise of my being being able to earn money and support myself.

What I really excelled in and absolutely loved in school were all my English and writing classes. My favorite class in high school was English Literature. I mean seriously, the whole class involved reading books and then talking and writing about them. SWEET.

I won a number of awards and school prizes for writing throughout my educational career. (Which are ALL available for viewing and proudly curated by my Mama  in the Museum of the Cleverest Children Ever – otherwise know as her house). I also excelled in debate. In college I came to love public speaking and discovered it to be one of my strengths. No matter how nervous I was, I always did great anytime I had to stand in front of an audience and speak.

So just to summarize, the three things I excel at and enjoy the most are reading, writing and running my mouth. :)

It never occurred to me that a living could be made from this. I am beginning to suspect that it might, but the how or the what of it is unclear to me from where I stand.

Can you understand why at this moment in my life I might consider myself to be unqualified to offer career advice to my sweet young cousin?

I don’t know that I could advise her as to what path might offer the most job opportunities, the highest pay, or the greatest chance for advancement.

The only thing I could tell her for sure is just what Rumi says in that beautiful quote. To be drawn by the stronger pull of what she really loves.

I could tell her the importance of creating a space in her life for that which she really loves, because not doing so stifles the spirit and eventually she would feel the pain of it even though it might takes years before she realized what the root of that pain was.

I could tell her that denying your gifts kills a little something in your soul, whether or not you are aware of it.

I have felt this pain myself. I have paid the price for not honoring and owning my gifts. In fact I have denied  them full expression. I have stifled them. Shoved them into dark corners and suffocated them under seat cushions. I have hidden them under piles of beliefs about what I should do, who I should be and how I should live up to other peoples expectations of me.

Finally I would tell her something else which Rumi said, which is to “let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

That’s as much as I know for myself and I am going to make sure that I make space for that which I love. I am going to take time to wrap my arms fully around it and hold it close. I am going to honor it, cherish it and thank God for it.  I am going to put it on a shelf and everyday I will dust it, polish it and then sit back and look at it in gratitude. I will do all this and trust with my heart and soul that it will not lead me astray.

It will lead me home.

blog comments powered by Disqus