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Most inspiring stories of change and success seem to start with a dramatic wake-up call.
From the cancer diagnosis or a tale of total loss comes a phoenix rising from their ashes and choosing a new life.
The pain and darkness of the soul reaches out to grab and shake them, saying that this doesn’t have to be your story. It stirs something in them that shakes loose some of the fear and doubt so that they begin to dream again and answer a deep calling. Their wake-up call becomes their drive to make changes and do the things that scare them.
But, what if you don’t have that wake-up call?
For years, maybe decades, I was waiting and hoping for some big dramatic event to wake me up and force me to change. I was jealous of a cancer survivor’s story—for goodness’ sakes.
Could an average Jane—like myself—have a fairly plain story, still answer a big calling, and do it while sitting in all the fear and doubt?
Circling in self-pity and excuses, I realized I’d been ignoring my wake-up calls.
I was pressing snooze on those events and feelings that were calling because I was waiting for something bigger, louder, and harsher.
We all have something calling us, asking us to be brave and play bigger roles in our own lives, but we have to recognize the way it calls us.
>> The call can be a faint and steady ring.
For many years, in my early 20s, I had a nagging feeling inside that something was trying to take hold of me, but it wasn’t strong enough to shake all the thoughts of fear or unworthiness, so I buried my head under the pillow. I used every diversion possible to avoid looking directly at what kept nagging at me.
>> The call can be a call waiting beeping in.
I was going through the motions of a life that on the surface is what you are supposed to want, what I went to school to do, but then that beep of something new popped in, unannounced. I ignored it, hoping it would go away, maybe call back later, or find someone else to bug. A little voice of fear started saying it was probably just a call about your car warranty expiring and not worth the time to check it out. I told myself it was a distraction and wouldn’t work out, not for someone like me.
>> The call gets pushed to voicemail.
After years of rolling with emotions, feeling disconnected with my life, and living with an inexplicable discomfort, I decided it was time to acknowledge the feelings. Following my feelings of discomfort with a deep wanting for something to happen, I let myself hear what was calling me. I could see it was a call to design my life my own way, to be seen, and to create something new. I still wasn’t ready to answer, but I could at least hear what it was about. I could see what was possible for others that I also wanted to claim, yet I still let myself hide behind fear and doubt and couldn’t pick it up.
>> Answering the call.
I never got a big shove in the right direction or a dark event that pushed me to the brink and made me so excited to be alive that I faced all my fears and just went for it. My story isn’t one of fighting my way back from a tragedy and seeing what I really am. It is a story of some deep call, ringing incessantly, and I finally decided to pick up, but all I heard was the whisper of an idea that I had already held in my heart.
My call to greatness and a dream bigger than me still sits under a cloud of fear, but I hear it now.
I am still waking up to what I am being called to be and do, but I keep taking steps toward it. It feels obnoxious some days—like Elsa singing nonsense to the wind—but I’m answering it all the same.
Perhaps, we just don’t get enough stories of the “how I answered a vague and undefined calling” because we prefer a dramatic story of triumph.
Maybe we have no patience to sit in the unknown and keep taking steps forward because it feels achingly slow and painful to watch.
We think we need a big wake up call because the stories always sound like the hero woke up and everything just worked out.
The good news is that we don’t have to have a dramatic story to find that we are always being led to a bigger and better version of ourselves. We have something reaching out to us and patiently waiting for us to be ready.
This exact moment could be your gentle call to shake off your fear and choose who you want to become.