Building a career, finding a calling.

Author: Kim Grob

When I was a young girl, the Catholic nuns told me to listen for The Calling. It could come at any time, in any place, and in any form. Only two things about it were certain: It would be the voice of God. And He would call me to become a nun.

I prayed every day that I wouldn’t get The Calling–and (thank you God!) I never did.

But looking back on that initial idea of a calling, first planted into my head with such religious certitude decades ago, I’m struck by the notion that a person could actually find his or her calling early in life, and then live and act purposefully enough to make it a reality–without somehow getting lost along the way. And yet there are people who do just that. The physician who started dreaming of a career in medicine from the moment she got her first Playschool doctor’s kit. The professional musician who picked up a guitar at age 10 and never looked back. And even the nun (there are still a few out there, right?) who got The Calling and actually said yes.

Then there’s the rest of us. We’re on plan C or D or Z. We’ve taken promising paths that led to dead ends. We’ve fallen down, gotten back up, and started over again. We’ve defined and redefined ourselves. And I suspect that most of us are still trying to figure it all out and get it right. We’re taking the long way through jobs and careers and life, sort of ambling toward our individual callings.

And yet, at the most elemental level, I believe the nuns were right: You must listen for your calling. Being prepared to accept it, though, is another thing altogether. To make it a reality, you need a perfect storm of resources, expertise, talent, passion, courage, and wisdom. Most of us probably need a healthy dose of blind ignorance, too, or we’d never attempt the seemingly impossible feats we dream up, would we? But when the right elements align, it’s suddenly possible to do that thing in life that you’re truly meant to do–and to discover your own unique way to make an impact on the world.

That perfect storm came together for me with Write On. It started with a growing desire to use my talents for good; to step outside of my own small world and somehow connect to the larger one. Amazingly, another incredible writer (who happens to be my sister!) was having a similar dream at the exact same time, and I was able to weave my vision with hers to form something bigger than either of us could have created on our own.

But there’s no way I could have done it when I was 23 years old. There were dues to pay and lessons to learn first. Like how to use grammar as your greatest ally (early copyediting gigs drove this home). How to tell a story that grips hearts and minds (thank you, MFA in Creative Writing). How to sell just about anything (advertising copywriting taught me so many tricks). And how to mentor other writers (editorial management at a young age threw me into the fire, teaching college Comp and Lit classes fanned the flames).

When I think about my own personal journey, it seems very possible that most of us have to earn the right to discover our calling and make it happen. It also seems possible that this calling is subject to change at various times throughout our lives. And I’m pretty certain that most of us are never 100 percent sure we’ve even found it. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe the journey itself is more important, anyhow.

All I know for now is that I seem to have hit upon something that I can do pretty well, that has the potential to make an impact, and that I’d love to do even if no one ever paid me. That’s a calling, I think. Have you found yours?