Do you ever wonder why some people seem to soar through life knowing exactly where they're going, and having no difficulty getting there? I do. It's trumpeted on social media. We want people to think well of us so we present our best side, highlighting what's going well while pretending nothing is going wrong. Life looks effortless as we soar off into the blue skies of Facebook.
In reality, most of us haven't left the ground. We long for something more than the daily grind. We have this niggling feeling that there's something we're supposed to be doing, something that would actually make a difference in this crazy world. But before we let those thoughts get too big and scary, we shove them aside and turn our attention to the reality of the day. "I guess this is all there is for me." Co-workers get promoted, neighbors zip in and out of their driveway doing whatever it is that keeps them so busy, friends pursue their calling with vigor.
We don't even know what a calling is, so we must not have one. "I can't _______ like so-and-so." (write, paint, cook, decorate, raise kids, be patient, tell a joke, run, speak, dress, have faith... - the list is endless) And since we can't do what so-and-so does, we figure we were absent the day callings were handed out.
Since starting my writing career nearly a decade ago, I've been on a steep learning curve. Countless times I was tempted to quit. "I'll never be as good as _______. Why do I bother?" Contests came and went without placing in the top half (or even two-thirds). Rejection letters filled my inbox. I attended conferences where I watched other people squeal and hug and sit together for meals, while I didn't see the same face twice the whole time. "I wish I were like ________. It all comes so easy for her." Well, I'd figure, this is obviously not for me. I'm going to quit.
But somehow I didn't. It wasn't for lack of trying. I'd "quit" but a week later find myself editing something I'd written earlier. I'd quit again but miss my writing friends. Somehow, SOMEHOW I kept at it in fits and starts even as I watched others hit bestseller lists, sign contracts, and publish book after book. Slowly (painfully) I inched up the contest results pages. I made connections with people, and rejoiced and commiserated with them. Book 1 came out and my inner circle celebrated with me. Then book 2. More celebrating. Then...the wheels stopped turning, the page remained blank, and a year of nothingness followed. Couldn't write, couldn't think or create. Couldn't find the energy I'd had. So that was it? Washed up after 2 books? I figured I'd just fade out of the writing scene and be happy with 2 books published. Others were cranking books out right and left, hand over fist, (insert your favorite cliche here), and there I sat.
Somehow, SOMEHOW I finished book 3 and you know what? It's my favorite so far. It was born out of sheer determination, perseverance, and a just-finish-it attitude that sort of resembles the main character. No, it's not remotely autobiographical, but I think Marti encouraged me even as I wrote her journey. Weird, I know, but that's what writers are - weird.
Along this journey, I've learned something that I knew it in my head, but finally accepted in my heart. We aren't supposed to do ________ like anyone else. We aren't supposed to BE anyone else. There's a Stacy-shaped spot in this world that requires my specific skills, gifts, attitude, words, actions to fill. Slowly my wings have unfolded and strengthened as I've understood and accepted this lesson. I don't have to shape my life to look like someone else's. I can't. I simply have to move through each day being the best me I can be.
That, I realized, is my calling - to do what I can do with what I've got, however it is I do it. It's how I've taken flight. Wobbling at best sometimes, I'm following my path. It may not lead to a bestseller list, but it's mine, with its own rewards, its own unique view of the world. Do I still want to have a career like so-and-so? Do I wish I could cook like Mark? Have the gift of hospitality like Theresa? Have a heart like Susan? Be funny like my siblings? You bet. There's nothing stopping me from learning new things, trying a new skill, chasing a new dream. The catch is that it has to be - I want it to be - my way, with an outcome that fits who I am. Even if I learn to cook like Mark, or care for others like Theresa, it won't be EXACTLY like them because they have a touch that's unique to them, as do I.
I have a long way to go in living out my calling. On occasion I let envy or discontent rule and suddenly my wings feel cropped. When I refocus, I can get off the ground. Back to where the air is fresh and invigorating, and the view is amazing. My calling is my journey, my way.
What do you think? Have you left the ground yet? Where are you headed?
"Life isn't about getting and having, it's about giving and being." –Kevin Kruse