It’s the million dollar question. The ultimate source of confusion and existential crises everywhere.
We’re asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” before we can barely speak. Our parents, although well-intentioned, tell us they “just want us to be happy”, leaving us wondering what happiness is meant to look like. There are countless questions and even more uncertainties. It’s overwhelming. Exhausting, even.
But I’m calling bullshit on ‘the calling’.
Because there’s no such thing as one, singular, grand ‘calling’.
“The truth is: you’ll have many callings over the course of your life. They’ll begin and they’ll end. They’ll evolve and they’ll adjust. They’ll surprise you and teach you. They’ll grow as you do.
Some callings are big, long-term projects. Others are temporary endeavours that may take a day or even an hour. What defines a calling is not its scale or even its success rate, but an appetite. An insight. A curiosity.
Many of us get stuck looking for our one big ‘calling’, our raison d’être, our purpose. We wait and wait and wait for the answer, and it never comes. Or we get stuck thinking we have to choose between two callings. Or, we think something is ‘it’ and then our passion fades, and we’re left feeling lost and disappointed.
But if you approach your life as one of multiple callings, evolving day by day, that’s when things get exciting.
Your calling may be a community calling, where you feel the need to give something back on that particular day. Your calling might be to launch your first business or start a new side hustle this year. Your calling may be to start a blog or website, or paint a picture that afternoon.
Hell, many of your future callings are things, hobbies and jobs that don’t yet exist.
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“Instead of trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, think about the kind of person you want to be.
Instead of looking for a ‘sign’ or an ‘answer’, focus on the little projects because they’re your callings. Every single one of them.
Instead of asking ‘what’s my purpose?’, ask yourself ‘what calling or callings are showing up in my life right now?’.
Instead of worrying about ‘your calling’, start doing.
You’re not a mess or lost or unambitious if you don’t have a specific calling.You’re human.
After all, if you figured it all out today, what would be the point of tomorrow? Enjoy the process of being a work in progress.
Embrace your many callings as they appear. Pay attention to what you pay attention to, wherever it may take you.
If you approach your life with an open mind and a willingness to learn, you can’t go wrong.
Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.
I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...
Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.
And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.
The cognitive load is real, y'all.
But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.
Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.
The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.
Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.
And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.
Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.
Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.
When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.
Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.