When Your Calling Is More of a ‘Bark:’ How Seekers Find.
My entire life I’ve pressured myself to find the thing I’m meant to do.
The self-imposed stress was so prohibitive and so paralyzing that not only could I not begin anything, but I lost the ability to remember my many innate gifts altogether. I created stories around how being diverse, multifaceted and chameleonic proved to be more detrimental than having that one certain thing. I envied people who knew their purpose and constantly questioned how they found it.
Regardless, all I knew was that I felt far away from my truth and nothing felt worse.
Every day I awaited some big download and without it I felt useless. I went to bed praying for that million-dollar idea and lost hope each day I was met with silence. I longed to skip a decade of my life for the mere gratification of finding my soul-driven career. My unknowing was all-consuming and I could barely tread water. I couldn’t relate to anyone my age.
I was impatient and warring with existential angst around the point of life. I was plagued by comparisons despite the inhumane amount of jobs I’d landed in various fields, my 4.0 GPA and the self-awakening strides I’d made throughout my years of prioritizing soul-searching.
Still, my desperate quest for my soul’s purpose directly contributed to a decade of therapy with long-term repercussions around people-pleasing, dangerously low self-worth and self-esteem, weak boundaries and a lost identity.
Now, some people may see traces of this manifestation informed by Western philosophy, one that propels an individualistic, rapidly operating, ego-based, money-oriented society. While these environmental influences didn’t necessarily help, there was something greater at play here. I was certain this longing to truly know my creative and professional path directly linked to my personal happiness.
The stakes were high and perhaps distorted but certainly wise, somehow. I felt the bigness of the call, just not its clarity. I had no clue that I did not need the specifics to answer it, that I only needed to acknowledge where it was coming from. I had no trust that all would reveal itself in perfect time. Until now.
What I’ve learned:
- There aren’t always big booms, sometimes there are just many small ones. Some will have big aha moments, sure, but more often, folks like me find themselves piecing together retrospective wisdom from our pasts, tracking the breadcrumbs that led us to our present-day landing. Suddenly we can see clearly those loyal crafts that always trailed behind us, or served as reliable co-pilots sitting shotgun along the way. Sometimes it’s seeing in hindsight the garden you watered over time long after your plants and flowers have grown.
- I am many things, but this I know for sure: I am a writer. I have always been. How do I know? Not because I published a book overnight or had divine intervention in dreamtime, but because of my contrasting relationship to it. Because it’s the thing I’ve run from the most. This craft and I have a tumultuous relationship, the way it forces a relentless and incessant turning inward. It is the thing that wails. It barks at my resistance. It becks and calls and chirps and squeals. It is sharp and urgent. It always knows. And yet, it is for that reason, being the most loaded relationship I’ve had, that makes me certain it is the one I must cultivate.
- How do I know it’s the one? Well, because at times I’ve wished for it not to be. I’ve tested it by denying it. Ignoring it. Self-silencing. But in doing so, one truth remains. I stop writing and everything gets worse. I find myself in critical moments that I know only writing can alleviate. I have poems that flood through me where my thoughts become lyrics. If I don’t write them down, they marinate and transform into a toxic form of self-dismissal. On a visceral, cellular level, I’ll ache. Even the things most recommended for self-care — nature, music, art, meditation, breathing — will hurt if used at the expense of my writing.
- Dishonoring yourself has life-threatening consequences. Unprocessed thoughts stagnate, translating into negative emotions, and voila! Here lies the foundation of symptomatology. This in itself makes writing my lifeline, my health is literally dependent on it.
Does this sound like something you’ve known about your life-path? If you have found yourself searching for your calling, ask yourself:
- What do I have to offer? What do I have to say?
- How may I go about offering/saying it?
- What is/are the thing(s) that have been there for me/that I have relied on throughout my life? How can I foster my desire to do those things creatively or professionally or both?
- What nags? Yells? Nudges? Whispers? What’s that thing your inner wisdom repeats that you easily dismiss? The thing you always procrastinate on? The things you falsely promise yourself you’ll tend to?
- Or oppositely, what are the things that come naturally to you? The things you do just for fun? Your simple, easy pleasures?
- Where does your mind go when you (day)dream? What does play look like? What do you wish you could do if not for fear?
Make lists! Find the threads. What’s the glue of your life? Let’s all consider quieting the hype around this urgency to answer the call. Yes, we are made to do big things, but the most impactful doing we can achieve is by being the thing we’re meant to be. Simply, for me, writing supports my beingness. It holds all of the complex and multidimensional aspects of my personality.
It is the link that brings everything to me and me to it. It keeps me in constant conversation and constantly creative. It feeds and fosters my ever-present curiosity about all topics and tangibly reminds me that everything is relational and interconnected. Writing is my superpower.
Sometimes, oftentimes, our thing is right in front of us. It’s the blind spot that just helps everything make sense. There’s a reason folks say hindsight is 20/20. The concept of creating can come with loaded pressure to do something that feels separate from the ways how we inherently operate. So what has to happen for us to see our true selves?
I will tell you this with utmost certainty: it does not come from doing more. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It comes by listening. Good news: all you have to do is honor that which you are, that which you’ve always been, to witness the answers you’ve always had.
Paige Frisone is a writer and poet stationed in Boulder, Colorado. Originally from Chicago, her writing pursuits began at Butler University, finishing her Creative Writing/English Literature degree at Naropa University with an integrated contemplative psychology focus. Her diverse loves and endeavors involve mind, body, earth and energetic-centered practices. Her work seeks to emit gripping psychosomatic experiences while simultaneously addressing concepts regarding the psyche and soma. She’s usually moving by the lake or reading barefoot in the grass, soaking up the sun with deep gratitude for all.