Struggling to Find My Calling in Life

It has been a very long time since I’ve known what I want to do in life.  I’ve been racking my head over it now for months, probably longer. And I’m getting absolutely nowhere.

Yesterday I came out of watching The Hobbit thinking that maybe what I need to do is spend the next two years learning Kung Fu. Then maybe I could go back to Egypt and use my Kung Fu superpowers to save the country from the evil dragons that have taken over the country. I really did decide this was going to be my calling. Those elves and their martial arts really got to my head.

Two days ago I decided that spending so much time on social media was not helping me figure out my calling. Perhaps if I cut back significantly I would be able to spend more time figuring it all out. I have been using social media quite heavily for several years now and it has definitely not helped me find my calling; the evidence being that it has gotten me absolutely nowhere. I did go through a phase where I felt that communicating through Facebook and Twitter had become my job. My husband once asked me to put down my phone and to focus on the moment that we were in – we were travelling somewhere. I replied, “But Colin. This is what I DO!” I have definitely been through phases where I have thought that my Twitter and Facebook followers were hanging on my every word. When did it become so important for me to communicate my every thought to a virtual world? Two days ago when I made my decision to cut down on social media, a thought came to my head and I struggled with myself for hours not to write down on Facebook. I told myself that if I still felt it was important later that evening then I could write it to the world then. I didn’t. The status would have read, “The women at my gym in the UK show hardly any emotion when they workout while I grimace and curse the whole time. I wonder what they are like during child birth.” Clearly this is a completely inconsequential thing to say. Before the Internet, that thought would go through my head and it would then die there. Now it comes into my head and I have to tell the world. What is that all about? I must admit that I am now relieved it is out there in the world through this blog post, though.

But no. I have decided that social media cannot be my calling.

I have not always been at a loss like this.

At one stage in my life my calling was to be a mother and housewife. That is all that I needed at that time. It is still, of course, a very important part of my life. But my children no longer need me the way that they did when they were little. I have too much time on my hands and I need to fill it.

At another point in my life my calling was to prey on unsuspecting young minds and to show them the light that lies in the way of Islam and of the Muslim Brotherhood. It took me a few years to decide that the way of the Muslim Brotherhood was not even for me. And it took another few years for me to understand that proselytizing was one of the worst ways possible for someone to stumble into a religion.

For many years, I was extremely satisfied feeling that my job was my calling. I worked as a science journalist. My calling was to communicate bits of scientific information to the general public, thus playing a part in creating a knowledge-based society. My part may have been miniscule, but the size of my role was irrelevant to me. I had a role, however small, a drop in an ocean, but it was a role that was needed and I felt fulfilled. I still believe that science journalists play a crucial role in our societies. But many things have happened to me during the course of my career that have almost completely turned me off the vocation. It is a shame, really. But it is a reality as well.

So I wonder: what is my calling? If I were completely free to live my life the way I wanted to, what would I be doing?

There have been times when I thought that travelling was what I wanted to do. I truly enjoy travelling, seeing new things, tasting new foods, and more importantly meeting new people. I learn so much through travel. I thought that my calling could be to travel, learn, and communicate through writing the things that I experience to the rest of the world. I would still love to continue doing this, but I no longer see it as an overriding need to make my life feel meaningful.

I have thought that maybe I need to get involved in charity work. And no matter how pathetic this may sound, I do not relate strongly enough to any one cause to dedicate more than a little sympathy and money to causes. I dread to think that there is a lesson in there for me and that a day will come when something horrible happens to me and only then do I feel a passion for a certain cause.

I wonder whether my calling in life, and everyone’s calling, is just to get through life and its difficulties on a day-to-day basis. Is my calling simply to live? Should that be enough? It is the whole “living in the now” ideology, I suppose. It’s a fine concept that helps one deal with one’s anxiety. But it just does not feel like it’s enough.

In the Holy Qur’an there is a verse that translates, “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” (51:56)

Many Muslims will tell me that my calling in life is to worship God. And I might agree. But the question is how that worshipping manifests itself. I do not see worship as being the bowing of the head during prayer or the abstaining from food and drink during the month of fasting. Those are acts of worship indeed. But the concept of worship, according to my understanding, is so much wider. And perhaps therein lies my greatest challenge: What is the calling that I am in need of that makes me feel that it is taking me that little bit closer to God? Is it in finding something in which I am serving humanity? Is it in having patience with the day-to-day struggles that we all face? Is it only in taking good care of my family? Is it going on a journey to discover God and the meaning of life, something I am already struggling to try to do? Am I already there? Have I already found my calling but I just don’t know it? Why, then, do I feel so confused and that I need more? Is that part of the human struggle? Not to fill a void but to fight against one being there to begin with?

What is my calling? I can’t for the life of me figure it out.

7 comments

  1. I’m 16 years old and I’m already pressured by society and myself into finding my “calling”. The world makes me feel like it’s now or never and that there’s only one critical time to find a chance in it. This post has given me some relief and at least reassured me that I have all the time in the world to change my mind about who I am. Thank you!🙂

  2. Isn’t that the question of almost all human beings ?! Or at least the ones who think they are sane ?! I guess the answer is all what you have said plus many other things…. To be good to yourself , your family , your friends, your neighbors, your community and the entire world … Every one in his/her own way ……. كل ميسر لما خلق له

  3. Nadia, I have the same problem. But maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Perhaps life cannot fulfill anybody. We’re told it can, but I’m not sure I believe the marketing anymore. That doesn’t mean we can’t do meaningful work. Do what you like to do. Bring love into the world.

    1. I have wondered before whether what you say may be right, Andrea. Maybe the marketing is all wrong. Maybe we are just meant to live. I have wondered if this feeling I have – this need to have a cause or a calling – is something that I have created for myself. Perhaps I have been indoctrinated into thinking this way. I really don’t know. But I acknowledge that it is a possibility.

  4. Here are a couple of thoughts:
    Steven Jobs in his famous Stanford speech, spoke about the main milestones in his life. He said: you can only draw the dots between the key milestones in your life when you look back. You cannot do that looking ahead.. before you embark on them. its a very powerful and thoughtful speech.

    I think perhaps we cannot actually identify our calling before we are fully immersed it in it. And then, it might be a calling, a need, for a phase only. our life happens in phases. pathways in the long journey.

    In which case, the significance of being able to fully live the moment and be present in it, in order to “feel and know”. Zen gurus and other spiritual masters will always tell you that you hold the answers deep within yourself and that you need to be able to go into silence and stillness for sometime, and hold it well, to be able to listen. Yoga meditation practice (raja yoga) therefore includes periods of ‘going into silence’ and ‘holding the silence’ to be able to hear your own inner voice. And silence in that case does mean no social media either🙂

  5. I agree with you, I feel utterly lost most of the time as to where my life headed and ponder upon the same old questions over and over again of ‘what am I doing here?’, ‘what does it all mean’? I think it is best to allow life to unfold without putting too much effort into it. Of course, hard work is exceptionally important and dedication must be put into anything if success is to be expected but as if letting life unfold in the way it should since over-analysis is never truly helpful. In western societies we seem to place too much emphasis on the idea that we all have a special calling that is waiting to found and as long as we find it, then we shall be happy. But this world is not built with any purpose or direction and nor are human beings. In other societies, they are not bombarded with this idea of a ‘true calling’ or humanistic purpose and accept that their interests will change, that their passions will not always be nourished and that it is natural to feel that way and perhaps it is a feeling that, no matter what you do, will always remain since we are naturally restless beings.

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