Lesson # 16: Mission, and vision, and calling, oh my!
When I was four, my mission in life was to grow up to be a bride. I’m sure that hearing fairy tales had a lot to do with that. By seven, I wanted to be a cowboy because my dad bought me a cowboy outfit. Then I also wanted to be a comic book writer and illustrator because someone gifted me a big box of permanent markers. When I started learning about makeup, I wanted to be the spokesperson for a popular cosmetic line at that time. Oh younger days…where we went whichever way the wind blew. We had no particular direction to commit to (P.S. And if we’re not careful, it may even continue 'til we turn fifty-two!).
In high school, I dreamed of teaching dancing in Australia after I had proven myself as a good dance teacher for a couple of Australian teenagers. This was an improvement. At least I began to align my goal with my talent, passion, and what I found enjoyable as well as what was financially rewarding. That was a good awareness. But merely having passion yet lack of planning killed that dream. I didn't know what it took to get it manifested.
Since my father mandated me to study math and science in high school, I thought going into an engineering program in college would be my ticket to a good life as well as making him happy. But my father didn’t allow me to pursue that path for reasons I never understood. He finally suggested I apply for the English program, which I loved, but I didn’t pass the selection test. You can imagine my frustration in the quest for a sustainable future career. It was during those desperate moments that I was accepted into a psychology program three hours away from my hometown. Phew! Finally, something tangible I could pursue. Not what my father wanted, and it’s not a popular career path that would bring glory to the family either, but I was determined to leave home at that point. In other words, my mission changed. I no longer wanted to please my father when it came to college choice. More improvement still.
It turned out that living in a dorm while studying psychology was so much fun! I fell in love with the idea of understanding how humans think, feel, and behave so I can help them become happier and more fulfilled. And because I genuinely loved this field of study, I naturally wanted to learn more, and I did well in it. At some point, I was given the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant and laboratory practicum instructor for projective tests (such as Rorschach, drawing house-tree-person, and Thematic-Apperception-Test) courses. And after that, I was hired to work at the psychology clinic run by the department, conducting initial intake interviews and administering psychological tests. As extra-curricular activities, I returned to dancing. Then I added martial arts. College years were the best time for me to know what “being in the flow” felt like. I felt I had found my niche, my calling.
I had been hired as HR personnel before graduation, but I decided to marry an American man I met over Christmas break, and then I left everything behind to be with him. Love is blind and can make us do the unthinkable. But it was sure worth it! This was another change in my life vision that sat well with me. I was sure of myself then.
During my marriage, I learned so much about what contributed to a good relationship. As a mother, I did my best to apply any child development psychology to ensure healthy parenting practices so that my kid would have a better experience than I did growing up. As a widow, I relied on psychology to cope with the loss. My passion about understanding human behavior grew stronger over the years, but more importantly, my wisdom has evolved quite a bit. I gradually realized that the most important person to understand was me. The most important relationship was the one I had with myself. And the most important journey to take was my own. I couldn’t lead others to take a journey I’ve never taken myself. A new mission and vision of life were born!
So I dared to take the inward journey where I intentionally explored my thoughts/beliefs, feelings, needs, wants, values, passions, mission and vision in life. I challenged myself to create new goals and explored why they were so important to me. I questioned what my life was about, what I was born to do, why I experienced what I did, what lessons I was to learn from them, and what could possibly be my purpose in life. I also paid attention to what subjects/topics caught my attention, aroused my curiosity, and naturally drew me in. I found myself reading books, attending workshops, watching programs and talking to coaches/therapists about personal growth (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) to help me understand myself as much as possible. I went on a quest to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and what my true calling was so it could be meaningful.
I wanted to leave a legacy. People would know that I had been here on earth for a period of time, answered my calling the best I knew how, and when my time was up, I returned to Source (the creator of all things). I didn’t want my life to just be a series of random events that I had to deal with from the start to the end. I made this my mission. I envisioned myself impacting a lot of people with my personal journey, my writing, and my work as a therapist—these are the best ways to use my life experiences to help others. I am committed to this because it feels right, because it brings me joy, not because I want to please anyone else.
I believe we all yearn to have a meaningful, purposeful life. But it’s not easy to discern our purpose that will give our lives meaning when we are busy reacting to external circumstance, other’s expectations, or our own insecurity/uncertainty. Sometimes, we live as if we were flying on autopilot. We are not fully present in our own lives. We are not mindful of where we are going and why we are going in that direction. Sometimes we allow fear to dictate our direction. Is it any wonder why so many of us feel unhappy and unfulfilled?
That is why I think it is important to take the time to ask ourselves: What activities do we find pleasurable? What unique talents do we have? What are our God given gifts? What can we do with all we have to contribute to the betterment of mankind, our planet, and the universe? How can we use our gifts to be of service to others? Be still. Observe what comes up. Do not judge. Do not overthink. Just notice. Does it feel energizing? Does it make you smile? Or does it feel numbing? Does it bring about a lot of discomfort in our body? Why? Be open and be curious. Dig deeper.
No one can decide for us what activity makes our heart sing. No one can tell us what our calling is. It is our job to figure that out. People can help us improve our skills at something and they can teach us how to utilize our passion and skills as a means to earn a living. But they cannot give us the compelling reasons for doing it. People may try to persuade or force us to do something they believe is good for us, and they may be right. But it is still our sole responsibility to discover what is good for our soul.
So I invite you to listen to your heart because it knows the answers to your quest. Listen to how your body responds to the vision you hold in your mind. Let it be your guide. Trust your intuition. Have faith in your own knowing. Gather support and get help when needed. Then live your best life! The world needs you!