The blessing of vocation: Letter to a young adult

“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.” ―Anaïs Nin

Hardly any season in life is full of as much elation and angst as the time spent in college pursuing a profession or vocation. From the first moment you step onto campus to the time you step across the stage to receive your diploma, it is a whirlwind journey. Maybe you arrived your freshman year confident that you would go into business – and then suddenly, on the other side of graduation, you are looking at the first bill to repay those education loans alongside the newspaper classifieds. Or maybe you are traveling across Europe trying to soak in your freedom before reality hits and you feel ready to settle down. Or maybe you boomeranged back home to work odd jobs here and there until you decide to go to graduate school. Or maybe you have landed that dream job in that dream city and you are now on your way to fulfilling your 10-year plan.

Whatever the scenario, finding your vocation isn’t easy. Lots of voices want you to make a blueprint for the rest of your life – start those portfolios, fill up those resumes and get ready for the next rung up the ladder. At least, that was the way when I was in college. And yet, I keep hearing and reading about the outliers today who are embracing the experiment of life. They play with the possibility of hobbies becoming livelihoods because there is something immeasurably valuable about actually enjoying the work before you. Maybe it’s a food truck. Maybe it’s a sustainable farm. Maybe it’s a co-working space. Maybe it’s an Etsy shop. Maybe it’s a book.

People are realizing that vocation is much more than a 9-5 job that pays the bills. For sure, that’s good and important, but now it is becoming much more about living into the way God lovingly created you – you with not only your obviously wonderful gifts, but your interests and passions, your hunger and vision. And the thing is this: It isn’t static. It’s going to need a continuous openness and posture of listening because vocation will always be about God’s call – not just to a particular task – but to follow God more closely – to be loved by God more deeply – to enjoy God more fully – to go further up and further in.

This is the blessing of vocation.

MiheeMihee Kim-Kort is a teaching elder in Bloomington, Indiana, and staff for UKIRK at Indiana University.