I have a confession to make:
I’m not a jealous person, but I am jealous of people who have vocations.
Do you know what I mean by “vocation”? Putting aside dictionary definitions, what I mean by “vocation” is when a person intrinsically knows what they want to do with their life.
When you think of the word "vocation", you first might think of jobs religious in nature. Priests and nuns are called by God to serve Him, right? Some of them feel the call as early as they can remember, just little kids, and they grow up to follow it.
But what about doctors? Every doctor I know feels so strongly about being a doctor that they can’t imagine being something else. It’s as simple and obvious to them as breathing.
I’m jealous of that certainty.
An unexpected vocation
A few days ago, my toddler fell asleep earlier than usual (7PM what!) and I had some extra time to kill before bed. So what did I do? Netflix, of course! I went straight to my list of saved shows, and I chose the one I thought would be the shortest in length—because to me going to sleep past 9pm might as well be 3am.
I chose “Being Elmo: A Pupeteer’s Journey”, the story of how Kevin Clash became Elmo. And it was *fascinating*.
According to the documentary, Clash developed a love for puppets when he was just a little guy in grade school, spending hours watching shows like Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street.
And once he fell in love, he never looked back.
Over the years, he faced all kinds of obstacles ... and surpassed every single one.
- When he didn’t have material to make a puppet, he took his dad’s fur coat (without asking).
- When he didn’t know how to make better puppets, he sat inches away from the TV watching Sesame Street to study the puppets’ stitching and movements.
- When he didn’t have anyone to watch him practice his performances, he put on free shows for his mom’s daycare kids.
- When his teenage classmates made fun of him for “playing with dolls”, he let the comments roll off his back.
- When he didn’t have access to his idols (like Jim Henson), he made calls until he found a way to get in touch with them.
I’m fascinated by this story for two reasons:
- The young age at which Clash fell in love with puppets
- The determination and undeterred curiosity that drove him to his eventual success
No matter what came his way, the guy never let up.
This is the kind of vocation I’m jealous of—the kind that’s ingrained in someone from the start, that is strong enough and so fulfilling that it’ll beat all kinds of opposition until it reaches ultimate success.
What about little ol' me?
Watching "Being Elmo", I wondered...
Wouldn’t it be easier if I wanted to become a doctor (or a puppeteer)?
Wouldn’t it be easier if I was born with all that passion for something specific?
Wouldn't it be easier if my "vocation" got me through my obstacles?
But, no, it probably wouldn't be easier. Because feeling jealous of all that is just the easy way out.
It’s easy to say the doctors and Kevin Clash's of the world were given a gift that I was not and resign myself to mediocrity—or worse, to stop creating.
Here's what I came to realize:
The clarity of our vocations has no bearing on how hard we work.
It's a fact—I wasn't given the gift of a vocation as strong as Kevin Clash's or my father-in-law who's a wonderful doctor. But that doesn't mean I get to stop working, or sharing, or experimenting.
Instead of lamenting the lack of a vocation, I'll do just one thing: I'll follow what interests me right now. For now, that's photography, writing, podcasting and being the best mom I can be.
That all might change, but for now, that's enough.
PS. It's a holiday weekend here in Nicaragua, so I just wanted to send you some extra holiday cheer. Thanks for reading! Big hugs to you from my desk Managua. :-)