My Work Is My Calling
It defines who I am
I do not write on Medium regularly though it is one of my desired goals. When the Medium Writers Challenge popped into my mailbox on the 28th of July, 2021, I browsed through the post just out of curiosity. All four topics were fascinating, but the one that remained stuck in my mind was “work.”
As I went about my days, the cloud of the topic kept on hovering over me. It seemed like the Medium challenge was the universe’s way of coaxing me to grab all those wispy and scattered thoughts about why I work and weave them into something comprehensible.
My son has often asked me why I keep working, doing something, or the other always. I have brushed off his questions by laughing or diverting him with an unrelated counter. Looking back, I think I did not answer him because I have never searched within why I work; I do. And it is not only for financial gains.
This post is an insight into what work means to me or how it defines me. Writing this post has been a tremendous journey into self-discovery. Never before have I spent so much time trying to look within and know myself. I have figured out why I have been drawn towards particular kinds of people, situations, and work like many others are attracted to creative work, art, music, etc.
I want to energize you, my readers, to take up this exercise of finding out why do you work or do whatever it is that you do and, in the process, find yourself. It will help you channelize your time and efforts to things that are valuable and meaningful to you. In the long run, you will live a life of fulfillment instead of bitterness and regret.
For me, work is a calling.
People work for several reasons. But not everyone needs to work. They have a choice. For most people, though, it is a plain necessity — to put food on the table. Others work to fulfill their dreams, alleviate their social condition, acquire material comforts, and compete with peers. I work for financial reasons, too, but that is not the only reason I work. I do a lot of unpaid work delightedly that no one has forced upon me.
When I think of work (any work), myriad thoughts float into my mind. Work for me is what the dictionaries define as any activity that draws mental and physical efforts to achieve a purpose, however minuscule or mega it might be.
But it is far beyond that. For me, it is a calling.
Why do I say that my work is my calling?
In the course of drafting this post, I have realized that there were always signs. Like work often drops onto my lap, or I walk ahead and take it up even when I don’t need to. I am a roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty kind of person who can do a lot of manual work apart from other formal roles and responsibilities.
Due to my affinity to different types of work, I always attract certain kinds of people into my life who have helped steer me towards a new direction, new opportunities, ideas, and learning. And in all this, there is no apparent compulsion. I can walk off at any moment I want, but I don’t. These trends have always been there since my early school days.
People trust me with work because I take ownership of activities and see it to the end. This is again a function of the influence of specific people in my life. I will come to that later.
It hasn’t been a one-way street, though. I have not worked just for the sake of working. I love to work because it has given me certain things. It is a fine loop.
Work gives me independence.
When I had started working after my university days, it was with the insular objective of becoming financially independent. It was about earning money, creating a bank balance, a financial safety net that gives me material security, and in the process, I hoped to gain mental peace and freedom.
Financial freedom does give me a chance to try out other kinds of jobs, roles, take up courses, invest and even help others. I can take risks and open myself to better opportunities and experiences.
Work has also given me an altogether different type of independence. I have moved from being an employee to self-employed. It is not easy running a show, but who says anything is easy in life. It is a helluva ride, though.
I am not picky and can do anything from cleaning dishes and mopping the floor to balancing the books. This kind of diverse work exposure has given me the mental preparedness and strength to take up challenges. It is liberating. But more importantly, it makes me happy and fulfilled.
Work is my anchor
One reason why I probably love my work is that it acts as an anchor in my life. I have experienced some difficult challenges to date. One morning, I had suddenly lost my father (not in this pandemic). We were very close; he was my mentor. Most of my work ethics and approaches are derived from him. I have suffered a miscarriage. Lost a pet. I loved it dearly. I know what it means to feel tightness in the chest and remaining wide-eyed in bed at 3 in the night. But through each of these events, I came out unscathed and stronger. Work helped through anxiety.
My work kept me centered and helped me bounce back through the dark times. The rigors of work, the colleagues whom I worked with, ensured that I do not brood too much and remain connected to people and purpose. I am not sure how psychiatrists or therapists would react to my approach, but it works. In a metaphorical sense, work was a hand that pulled me out of my misery and dragged me on the right path till I got my groove back.
My character is a manifestation of my work.
When you do a whole lot of different kinds of work, you end up meeting a wide range of people and come across numerous situations. Your interactions with them are all micro-influences. If you are smart enough and alert, each of these people or experiences teaches you something useful and helps you build an arsenal of skill-sets.
My father and then two of my bosses taught me to be a note-taker and become detail-oriented. I always maintain a physical notebook of my day–to–day activities. I learned how to work in steps, preempting situations and making provisions to reduce uncertainty and risks.
My work has instilled in me the ability to listen to what is being said (and what is left unsaid but meant). I have learned to communicate and negotiate where both parties come out feeling good and create a balance in the outcome. I have become productive by learning to prioritize work and by acquiring new skills, mastering new tools.
Today, I can make better decisions and have become competent in managing time and money. This is the outcome of doing things day after day on my own and not by taking some fancy courses. That is the value of work for me.
Simple things like planning slightly complex activities, organizing resources, executing them while remaining unfazed, assigning and taking responsibilities are life skills that we all need to survive in this world.
I have detected that any work brings a joyous gleam in my eyes and makes me tremendously happy. Work fulfills me and enables me to become a better version of myself.
TO WRAP IT ALL UP
I rarely wake up grumbling that it is a Monday or that I have to go to work. I thrive when there is a lot to do, whatever the work may be. For me, it is not a daily grind but my raison d’etre.
There is a shloka from the Bhagavad Gita (Ch. 2, Verse: 47)
Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana |
Ma Karma-phalahetur-bhurma Te Sangostva-karmani ||
Lord Krishna enlightened us that we have the right to work but not the fruits of our labor. Let us focus on doing good work and discharging our duties whether anyone watches us or not. You need to stand up, uphold your ideals, do your work because you should, and you rejoice in doing your work and not because of what you will get as a result.
I do not dream of retiring and living a life on the beach sipping tequilas. If God is listening, I would rather die on my feet working.
What do you think of work?
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