I don’t know if it’s just my generation, or just my sub-population within my generation, or if this has been going on for a long time and with more people than I realize… but folks like me have a lot of trouble with concept of “vocation.” You know, as derived from the Latin vocāre, meaning, “to call.” What is my calling?
It’s a relatively new concept. It wasn’t that long ago that people simply followed in the footsteps of their parents’ profession, building upon the work that they had already accomplished. Exceptions were infrequent and caused familial strife.
I’ve known a lot of folks my age who wish this career-building model was still perpetuated in our society. It is a wonderful thing to have the freedom to choose one’s path in life, but it is also immensely confusing for those of us with severely crippled decision-making skills.
I mean, we’re talking about calling! It’s that particular topic or activity to which one is called to dedicate their entire life, and from which they are to earn a living! We should not take it lightly, but the weightier the decision, the harder it becomes.
Take me. There are a great number of things at which I have a lot of skill and which I enjoy. The job I currently have does not have much to do with any of them. But to choose a profession–to put everything I have into that one specific subject with which I have branded myself–is to deny all of the other possibilities. Perhaps if there was one single thing at which I truly excelled and enjoyed above all the others, it would be a different story. As it is, for as many interesting and useful skills I have, there are even more very good reasons I probably should not be pursuing them as a means to earn a living.
You can see for yourself. For every skill or interest, just hover the cursor over the picture to find out why it should not be the focus of my career.
Am I being ridiculous? Yes. This is a self-defeating attitude, and symptomatic of a pathetic social disease carried by myself and my generation. The perspective has become “This is why I shouldn’t do that” instead of “Oh, I think I could do that because of this,” and the only reason is because I am privileged enough to have almost any job I could imagine available to me.
But what’s the cure? So far, I’ve been taking whatever position that has dropped into my lap (although, to be fair, with much thought, research, prayer, and counsel before accepting). It hasn’t worked out terribly. I mean, it did at first, but for the last two years I’ve been at a well-known and respected non-profit, doing work I find morally righteous, with colleagues I like, earning enough to support myself in my lovely studio apartment, and at a desk by a huge window overlooking a nice selection of New York City and the Hudson River. I’m in a controversial environment, and I love controversy. I’m just not doing anything at which I’m particularly adept or interested, and my generalist skills will only get me so far in this department (mostly filled with MDs, NPs, and MPHs, compared to my BA in Theater).
I have no right to complain… but is it wrong to think of this job as “the wrong place” when there’s no “right place” in mind? Should I force myself to pursue further education in this specific field (which has a clinical component), or put myself back on the job market?
My predicament is not one deserving of much sympathy (“Oh, poor guy. He has too many viable choices of how to earn a living and suffers from chronic indecision.”), but I find that it has become more and more commonplace. Do I, and others like me, simply need to be slapped in the mouth for even thinking about complaining about this?
Or, because we are defined by our actions, does having options for how to earn a living (having the freedom to choose our actions) present a legitimate burden?
What I’m really getting at here is: can’t someone just pay me to write this blog?