Have you ever felt like you lost yourself?
I haven’t met a person yet who has not answered “yes” to this question. I know I have. And there was a time when I felt so lost in my life, in almost every aspect.
I felt like a big question mark. My health was failing. My relationship was crumbling. My career was caving in around me. My family was freaking the flip out. I was trying to be everything to everyone, and in the process, I forgot who I was.
Metaphorically and literally, I ran away from home. I traveled the world, moved my home base seven times in one year, invested thousands of dollars in training, and looked under every rock I could find for the answer to that massive question mark: “who the hell am I?”
In the quest to find myself, I kept getting this idea, this spark, this inspiration to create something from this place I was experiencing inside me.
At first, it was a soft ring, like that of a telephone in the distance. I ignored it, saying, “Oh, ha, that’s not for me.” It rang louder. I ran from it thinking, “No, that’s for later on down the road.”
Eventually, it was a full-on fire truck clanging through my life. Still, I refused to pick it up, saying, “No way! That makes no goddamn sense!” Finally, the thing stopped ringing and smacked me upside the head.
That thing is a calling—a strong urge toward a particular way of life or vocation.
If you google, “What is a calling?” you will get an interesting assortment of definitions and explanations, ranging from:
The loud cries or shouts of an animal or person.
A strong urge toward a particular vocation or way of life.
A profession or occupation.
Something that God asks us to do.
When I think of the word “calling,” I think of truth—our truth.
The word “calling” is often thought of as synonymous with purpose, profession, or path. I say it’s a blend of all three.
Our calling is a way for us to live out our purpose, not only through our profession but also through our own personal path.
Like the hero in any good old heroes journey, we are called to take on an adventure in our lives that asks us to be bolder than we’ve ever been before. A calling asks us to grow, and in order to grow, there will be significant ups, downs, and all arounds.
As Gregg Levoy says so eloquently in his book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, “We must, therefore, be willing to get shaken up, to submit ourselves to the dark blossomings of chaos, in order to reap the blessings of growth.”
Indeed, following our calling can feel a bit chaotic, but also oddly peaceful.
People often report that engaging in what calls to them brings a sense of relief and spaciousness. When we stop resisting it, it actually creates great freedom.
With that freedom also comes a great sense of responsibility—not the heavy, burdensome, obligating kind of responsibility, but the ability to respond. Embracing our calling means that we recognize ourselves as the chooser, the creator, and the leader of our life, which can feel a tad intimidating.
That’s why so many people have big dreams—that just stay dreams. Thinking about them feels pretty comfy and great, but tackling the actions in a real world everyday is where the rubber meets the road. There’s no doubt about it: following our calling is not for the faint of heart.
But although the risk is great, the reward is even greater.
As Maya Angelou says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
The reward of following our calling is getting to express that story inside of us: the real one—the story that means something deeply to you. The one we are still in the midst of writing.
Our calling will push us to our edge, but it will also pull us—the real us—right out. Our calling activates our purpose and draws us further into the core of who we are.
A calling’s purpose is to help us heal and grow. If a calling is that important, how do we even find the ding-dong thing in the first place? Let alone follow it?
Here are a few questions to get you going:
1. Observe it.
What is the change you wish to see in the world? What is a need the world has that you wish to fill?
2. Feel it.
What do you see in the world that breaks your heart? What do you love to think about and do? What makes your heart beat?
3. Dream it.
What is the best thing you could create, enact, or activate that supports this? What would success look like?
4. Clarify it.
Why is the purpose of this calling? What does it accomplish? What is the core process, or how does it unfold?
5. Implement it.
What are the core actions you can take right now and in the near future to move toward this calling? When you engage with your calling, what feedback do you hear from others?
Although embarking on the journey of it can be full of trials, there is only love in our calling. It may feel like we get thrown around a bit, but through it all, we will find your way back home.
When we look at it again, the definitions on Google do line up with what a calling is. It is the loud cries or shouts of an animal or person: our soul. It is a strong urge. It is the profession of being ourselves. And whether or not we believe in God, it is something that life asks us to find.
Yes, it’s asking a lot. But our calling is meant for us, and us alone. It will love us unconditionally. It will wait. But can we?
As long as we breathe, so will our calling.
Bonus: Tim Brod—King of the Bees.
Author: Danielle LaRock
Image: Noelene D /Flickr
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron