Note: This brief reflective article tries to look at vocation as discovering oneself in truth, knowing who you are and answering to life-choices as per one’s inclination and God’s promptings in our hearts.
Dictionary explains “Vocation” as art, trade, career, and profession. Thus it narrows down vocation as, ‘something we do for our living’. But in religious and psycho-social sense it is discovering oneself—one’s identity and the true self. It is coming in terms with one inner-self, heart-felt desire and life-consuming goals. It is knowing one’s inclination and tendency towards what one wants to be. According to our inclination (which comes from our heart’s desire) we are lead to our vocation. As per the authenticity of our desires so will the vocation be.
Vocation is being oneself rather than becoming someone. Vocation is not becoming someone you are not, because we cannot become better than ourself or beyond ourself. Trying to be beyond oneslef is distrusting oneself and choosing to be selfish and betraying oneself. It leads to self-destruction and a life-long misery, sadness and gloominess. Glory of God is man and woman to be fully alive. So discovering one’s heart’s desire leads to unending happiness and glory of God.
Hence vocation is not a goal to be achieved but a gift to be discoverd and nurtured. It is accepting the treasure of true self what one is already. It is knowing oneself and where one’s heart leads to. It is what I am already. Vocational discernment is knowing oneself deeply, clearly and learning to do what one is and what one can offer. It is a call from within rather than from outside.
We come to this world as a unique individuals and it is our vocation to develop this uniqueness to full maturity. It is bearing fruit in abundance and being satisfied with the fruit that we are. So in vocation I give what I am. Myself is “that of God” and it is “my true self”. I am “a pearl of great price”.
As “oneself”, we come with our own likes and dislikes, being true to oneself is not ignoring them, overlooking them or putting them into rash judgment. Becoming “what I am” is making myself a gift to others and it is one’s birthright. Often expectations of others does not help us to discover, discern and achieve one’s life-goals. We are often deformed by fear, expectations, compulsions, pressures and even desires of others. Our dear ones with the good intention of doing good to us may cause violence to our vocation. We can even cause violence to ourselves in the name of vision.
Vocation is knowing “the material” one is made of and asking oneself “what can I do with my life?” Faking oneself in the service of high value, is no virtue and sure path to unhappiness. It is doing disservice to oneself. Vocation is finding joy and fulfillment in working towards one’s authentic self.
But if one’s vocation is limited to oneself only by shutting oneself to the world around is “not fully alive”. Because there is more joy in giving than in receiving. Our vocation should lead to give ourself completely to the world around us. What we are is what we have made ourself in contact with others. So vocation is “the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” (Frederick Buechner). Vocation is ‘what I can do for the world with myself’.
There is no self-joy. Self-joy is narcissism. It is selfishness, conceit, egotism and vanity. This apparent joy is short-lived and destructive. We are here on earth to be the gifts that God created us to be. Our vocation calls us to live responsibly, responsively and joyfully.
There are many events and situations in life calls us to travel to our innerself, to our heart and to our inclinations to keep in check our vocation journey. Journey may be murky, dark and gloomy. But it is a journey all need to take. Experience of darkness is essential to journey towards self. We have to go through the “dark night of the soul” to reach the “interior castle”. Vocation is an act of will… an act of faith… an act of “let-go” one’s ego.