You know you have one. Everyone does.
What’s your secret yearning? What is it that you want to do or be?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, sitting at a small unfinished pine roll top desk, reading and writing and researching my stories.
I was the only one in my circle of friends and family who did that, so I knew right away I was different. I didn’t want to be different from my friends, so I started keeping my writing to myself. I wanted desperately to fit in. I wanted to be like normal people. I didn’t want to be the weird one who stayed indoors all day, crafting dramas. I wanted to belong.
Maybe you too have a secret yearning that you’ve hidden because you’re afraid to be different.
Those days, I didn’t think about whether writing was my calling or if I would ever be able to get a job doing it. I toyed around with writing all through high school, but it was never anything serious. I didn’t know if I had any talent. All I knew was that writing came so easily to me.
Somewhere along the path, I heard the message loud and clear that writers don’t make any money. It’s really tough to get published. First you have to get an agent and then they had to sell your work to a publisher and maybe, after months and months, maybe even years, the publisher might decide to publish your book, but then it would take a year for it to be in bookstores, and then if you are lucky, it will get placement on the front table of New Releases, but if it doesn’t sell well in the first month, it will eventually go to the back shelves and then to the Bargain Books table before getting shipped out to be pulped and recycled. All of this while you are living the life of the La boheme starving artist.
Getting a regular job sounded more promising and lucrative to me, so that’s what I did. And that worked very well for me. For years and years.
The calling was still there in the background, in between relationships and building my career, and getting married and divorced, and moving across the country. It was always there, waiting for me to circle back to it.
Years could pass without me writing a word. I was doing well in my career, making great money and living the good life. Why should I turn my back on that to do something so unpromising and unprofitable? Who needed the hassle? That seemed like a lot of effort for very little gain.
Your calling doesn’t care if you doubt it. It doesn’t care if you think you’ll never get recognized for it. It doesn’t hesitate because you think you can’t make any money off it.
My calling never shut up. My characters remained alive and well inside my head, showing me scenes that I should write, plot lines that I should develop.
My turning point came in late 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. I thought, if he can do it, then I can finish my damn book.
I figured something that had been with me for a thirty plus years must mean something. It was like a beacon calling to me steadily, continuously, over the years. It never stopped sounding; I simply chose to not listen. I decided to listen again.
Your calling is foundational. It’s fundamental to who you are. You can’t get out from under it. You can ignore it or shun it, but it will always be there, waiting for you, like an eternal friend. It knows no sense of time or place. It will be there until you answer it.
It’s that nagging feeling that there is something you love to do, but somehow you don’t do it anymore. It’s that person you used to be, but somehow you aren’t anymore.
When you ignore your calling, you turn your back on your identity. You become an imposter.
You can’t go on the creative journey as an imposter. You can’t just be a passenger. You’ve got to get on board.
Your calling, your preferences, your interests, these are your tools for creating your life. They are the keys to unlocking the door to a whole new life. Without them you can’t make the life that was meant for you.
We lose out when our central pursuit becomes the attainment of things and the approval of others. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing those things. We all do.
It’s only a problem when they become more important than our own ideals and hopes and dreams, when we suppress who we really are and conform to what we think others want us to be. Instead of following our own yearnings, we think somebody else must know better.
There is a secret in your heart, a thing you want to do.
You must turn back to yourself if you’ve turned away.
You can’t wait for someone to tell you what to do.
You’ve got to get on-board and start rowing.
You must be a warrior without a king.
It’s time to heed the call.