For the past two years, I searched for my life calling. I was determined to figure it out. I wanted to identify my true calling in life, so I could surround myself with it and live it.
That didn’t mean I constructively thought, journaled, or meditated on the reason I’m here. Instead, “what am I supposed to be doing with my life?” was stuck as an ever-present question in my mind. It flickered between a background hum and a blaring distraction.
I assumed once I realized my life calling, I would just know because I would feel it resonate deep in my being as a perfectly tuned vibration. Then, I could commit to my life calling 100 percent. The only trouble is, after two years, I still haven’t found it. I’m forty-one years old and I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing with my life! I am confident I’m here on this earth for a reason — with a purpose that is uniquely keyed to me. I am supposed to contribute to our world. And I want to be my true self, and follow my life’s purpose. But what is it?
In second grade, Sister Joella asked my class to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some kids drew teachers. Some drew doctors. Some drew firefighters. I didn’t know what to draw. I wavered between drawing a teacher and a cheerleader. Finally, I settled on a cheerleader, because I thought that would be fun and beautiful. I knew it wasn’t quite right, but nothing else seemed more right.
Since I was young, I have been envious of other people that knew and followed their life calling. Arielle just knew she wanted to be an art teacher. She has worked in the education department at a prestigious museum for over 10 years. Chris was determined to be an actor. He’s in L.A., and has been acting full time for years. As a teenager, I wanted to be a painter. Or maybe a writer. In college, I wanted to be an architect. Was one of those things my life calling? Did I miss it?
Right now, I am likely in the best place to pursue my true life calling — maybe even the best ever. Last year, I closed the digital design business I started 12 years ago. I have a variety of life experiences and growing self-awareness. I have work opportunities that would continue one of many paths in design, creative services, teaching, or technology. I could balance the UX contract work I do now with time pursuing an artistic passion. I am bursting with possibilities. I could do so many different things. But which track? And is one of them my life calling?
For a while, I wondered if I could come up with some expressive life song of my own–based on my passions and talents. I am a creative problem solver; surely I could come up with something. So, I considered possible pursuits: painting, drawing, color, writing, photography, film. Really, I love anything that involves art and writing. I’m naturally drawn to pattern finding, optimization, and solving problems. I’m flexible, empathic, and insatiably curious. I’m passionate about inclusion, sustainability, and simplicity.
So, I considered possible notes of this life song:
- A painting series cataloging human emotions
- A website, courses, and books for women freelancers
- Funky and functional art chandeliers
- A documentary about signage across the U.S.
- A technology advisory service for small business owners
- Daily painting about the temporary nature of life
- A program to pair new college grads with new business owners
- A paleo/whole30-friendly meal service
These are just some of the ventures I’ve considered. I know for sure that I can’t do all of these things. I can do anything I want, but I can’t do everything I want.
A couple years ago, as part of a business leadership program, I watched Simon Sinek’s Ted talk, “How leaders inspire action,” where he delivered his well-known talk about “Why.” Why is the core purpose or belief in each of us that inspires us to do what we do. After a few late-night sessions of thinking, writing, and determined self-analysis, I identified my why. And I write it here again today: “I am creating my own path and I want to help you find yours.”
With that as my why, it’s no surprise that I’m still seeking my own unique path. I’m an explorer and a risk-taker. I like taking the other path — the road never traveled. I will always follow my own path.
I’ve been searching for something that is impossible to find. I don’t have a life calling with a familiar, simple title. My life calling may never have a name. The closest I may ever get to identifying my life calling is knowing my why. So, I have decided to stop looking for my life calling.
Today, I’m reminding myself that my true life purpose is a fluid movement. It is okay if my life calling is an untitled, unfinished masterpiece. It’s fine that I can’t read the notes on the next page of my song. I don’t know what’s next. I am going to keep making daily steps. And that’s okay.
This improvisational path ahead of me is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. And it will be beautiful.