The biggest question in the universe is:
Why am I here and what is my purpose?
Most people spend a lifetime trying to figure it out and some never do.
Movies try to give us examples to follow: The aliens in “Arrival” were here to teach humans to use communication and language to unite us. Dobby had the initial purpose of being a house elf and later his goal was to help Harry Potter.
But that’s not real life.
In real life sometimes you waffle, sometimes you coast and sometimes you slam into a wall.
I hear my husband constantly saying that he’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up. He was lucky enough to find the meaning of his life when he was younger but now that he’s looking at his next phase, he’s not sure what that path should be.
My kids worried about their lives when they were applying to colleges. They thought they had to have everything figured out BEFORE they left for school. They wanted their life in a neat, little bow but for most of us, that’s not the case.
But again, the movies show us a reality where everything comes together in the end so the expectation is there.
But what about the rest of us?
I was fortunate like my husband in that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. In middle school, I had a wonderful teacher who inspired me. By the time I was in high school, I knew that teaching was my calling and English was my focus. I was always writing creatively but my desire was to teach literature.
Books were what I loved and books were my focus. I knew my passion.
My college applications were to schools where I could attend their education department. I flourished at my university where the majority of my classes were in English and many others were in teaching how to teach. I relished those classes where I was able to write creatively and not just spit out academic papers.
Eventually I created a vision board where I would get my degree and move to South America to teach English. Then I would take my hard-earned cash and relocate to Australia. All the while, I would do what I loved.
And then I met a boy.
I got my degree and tried to get a job in our new location. Coaching cheerleading got my foot in the door and then I was almost immediately offered employment as an ESL teacher. I took it hoping that it would turn into a high school teaching job. It did but then we moved again.
So I went back to school and to earn my master’s degree so I could teach English as a Second Language. I had thoroughly enjoyed the progress and happiness of my ESL students so I combined my desire for English into a new career; I found a new love from an old one.
For 20 years I was doing what I reveled in. I taught speaking and listening to non-English speakers from all over the world. They felt my enthusiasm for my language and they absorbed it all. I was fortunate enough to work in university settings and I taught part-time so I could still be with my other loves – my kids. I was the happiest person on the earth.
Then one day, it wasn’t so fun anymore.
The desire to be in the classroom wasn’t there. And even though I had a position waiting for me at my new duty station, I couldn’t accept it. It became a job and not my career. And in education, that’s not fair to the students. There needs to be a passion or you aren’t helping them learn.
I knew I had to stop. I needed a break to find myself again.
My idea was that I would give back to my military community by volunteering but nothing ignited that spark. I had fun meeting new people but at times I felt like I was just going through the motions.
Then one day, I felt the urge to write again. So I did.
One story turned into two and two into three. Normally, I would keep my writing under wraps but this time I put myself out there. A friend who had done the same inspired me. I submitted my articles to a few publications. At first, I was discouraged because I heard crickets but then a response – someone wanted to publish me!
That affirmation was enough to help me focus my attention and to know that I had once again discovered my purpose. As I continued writing, I found that the words flowed easily and that it brought me joy. The desire showed in my work and it must have come through in the articles I wrote because from my hobby came a job offer!
This time my purpose wasn’t blatantly obvious. I tripped into it because I felt a tug and I let it lead me somewhere. But by doing so, I once again found what I was supposed to do with my life.
And that should be the lesson – your calling is out there; you just have to answer it. There may be busy signals or you may get disconnected but eventually the phone rings and you say “hello.”