What Are You Called to Be?
I began writing the of title of this piece as, “What Are You Called To Do?” but then quickly changed my mind. I think a great deal of weight is carried on our shoulders with the latter question- What do you do? What can you do? And the answer to that is tough. At least for me, what I do, what I did, what I may eventually do, is as ever-changing as the days. Who I am? Who I am called to be, well that is a constant. Sometimes it may take a while to hear our call, but I firmly believe we all are called to be something.
When I was little, maybe age four through eight or nine; I was certain I was going to be a veterinarian, and then a lawyer, and then an astronaut, an artist. And then, finally, a writer. Funny, even as I type that word, my lungs give a deep exhale of knowing relief. By the time I was ten years old, I had landed on what would remain what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. If only dreams were that easily translated into reality, right? I had no doubt whatsoever that writing was what I would grow up and, as if by a magical wave of a wand, not just do, but be successful at. I suppose part of that innocent declaration, which I have written about in another post Time Is Running Out, was rooted in my already developing awareness that my childhood was different from my friends; that I had a story to tell. In fact, oftentimes, I did.
I can recall being invited over to friends’ homes for slumber parties and sure enough, at some point, when the jammies were on, sleeping bags and pillows laid out, and the life-long, almost ritualistic circle of girl talk commenced; somehow, almost always, I told my story. Or at least parts of it. The parts that were weighing heavy on my heart, or that I needed in those moments to allow to spill out so that it became real. So often in my childhood my life took place behind the locked doors of what I called the haunted houses I lived inside. Those houses were haunted with the evil and fear that comes from living amongst the anguish of unleashed mental illness. My mother, the person I counted on most in my small world, my everything, was the very person I feared coming home to. And sometimes, who I feared for my life. Just like most haunted places, it was perfectly possible to step inside and never experience a haunting, nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. But if you stayed long enough, you would feel it, see it, be terrorized by it too. I lost many friends who ran screaming from my haunted houses. What I hadn’t realized when I was still a young girl, was that those stories I was already telling, the act of shaping my experiences into stories, and sharing them with my young friends, whose faces would often go white with the horror of what they heard; would eventually become a part of not just what I do, but what I was called to be.
I tried out many other things to do along my journey. By high school and entering into college, I thought for sure that my love for writing would lead me to a career in journalism, but it turned out not to be so. I had already set my course in life, the call had already gone out. Or perhaps if you believe, it had already been set for me. I just wasn’t listening yet. I had many more trials to walk through; those that would make me forever scared of the dark. I would endure many more tragedies that I would have once thought were too far-fetched, as if out of some horror movie, to ever make there way to my door. And I would achieve many more triumphs. I lived through exactly what I was supposed to, because I was called to be a teller of all of the stories in my heart, and in your hearts. To open the doors to all of the haunted houses and expel the evils that grip innocent lives with fear.
Nobody said it was easy. Nobody said it would be this hard. I love this line from Coldplay’s song, The Scientist.
I believe with all of my soul, that I was called to be a helper for the countless others who live with secrets. This is what I was not just called for, but created for. Every experience in my life has led me to finally listen. I may have wanted to do something different in my life, something more traditional, more profitable, more acclaimed, more fantastic. But I know now, that once you listen to what you are called to be, everything else just sort of fades away. The choice becomes clear. It feels right, because its a part of you. Its what you were made for.
Have you ever wondered if you are doing the right thing? Are in the right place? Making the most of who you are? Having a purpose is true for all of us; finding, listening and then following that purpose is much more difficult to figure out. It is not a prerequisite of a meaningful purpose to have a history of bad experiences. That just happens to be a part of my story. Perhaps your calling is to be the light that shines as an example for a life filled with positive experiences, or hard work, or overcoming setbacks, denials, or shame.. or your own demons, or, or , or. It is not for me to tell you what your calling is. How should I know? However, I am here to tell you this.
We all are uniquely created individuals with a purpose of our own. We all are called to be something that aligns with who we are inside, not what we craft the outside to look like. If you struggle with wondering if you are on the right path, ask yourself this question. If you had to describe yourself without using “I do,” and only “I am,” what would you say about yourself? Think of answering with who you are, or who you would be if you could be anything. That quest to become who you see yourself to be, is also and already a part of you. I am: Kind. Beautiful. Daring. Adventurous. Thoughtful. Creative. Spontaneous. Flawed. Honest. Unapologetic. Determined. I wouldn’t describe myself as I do: Laundry. The dishes. Lots of editing. Lots of second-guessing. Not make a great driver. Yoga. Etc. (Ok, I don’t do yoga.)
No, none of these I do’s make me who I really am. Now, I encourage you to take your own unique answers and respond to that call within yourself, of how you can be all of those things and more in your own life. Is there a burning desire, or maybe a nagging feeling you get when you think of something you wish you could be doing? Go try it! I am not saying ditch your job and go follow every dream or every whim you’ve ever had. What I am saying is listen to yourself. Your voice inside has been calling to you, waiting to show you who you can be, because it’s already there within you. If you listen to it, there you will find your purpose. I am a story teller. I have been my whole life. My experiences, both good and bad, have carefully shaped my words and filled my heart with enough emotions to spill those words out for you. I am not sorry I traveled down the other paths I took before finally answering my own call, I just wish I had been able to stop and listen a little earlier. No matter. Yesterday is done. Today is all we have; so I will listen to my heart, and make the most of it.