Posted by: Robin | April 26, 2008

Full Circle

In my late teens I confronted that perennial question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I had started out as an Art major and then switched to English Secondary Ed., but I ended up spending most of my time volunteering, working with high school kids and tutoring poor rural children. I assessed that I had two sets of gifts–people gifts and artistic gifts. I could not reconcile them. Creating is a persistent solitary pursuit. In my mind it was either/or, and helping people and righting societal wrongs were obviously the more valuable callings. I didn’t bother to ask, but I was sure God thought so. Helping people was a good fit, and I tried to do it as creatively as possible, but by my late thirties I was depressed and empty. I felt lopsided. I’d over-developed one side of who I was and put the other half in cold storage, and it wouldn’t let me ignore it any longer.

I went back to school and decided my original idea of teaching English integrated most of the things I’d found most fulfilling in the various jobs I’d done as well as what energized me most in my personal life. After two years of subbing and a year-long temp job, I discovered I was right. Big problem: I lived in a saturated market for teachers and moving out of the metropolitan area wasn’t an option. Financial need drove me back to jobs I’d done before, and it wasn’t bad. Finishing my undergrad degree and my MA and excelling at both had filled a lot of the emptiness I’d felt and eased much of my self-doubt.

Then I became debilitated by a chronic illness. No one could tell me whether I was ever going to get well enough to get back to an active life, so part of this new journey was figuring out how I could live fully and richly within these new confines. I began to write and research and write. Vocationally I have never been so happy. And I am on the verge of sending one fruit of that labor into the world again, but it has coincided with a strange twist in my journey.

Lately a number of things have caused me to reflect on that younger woman who was out in the world immersed in other people’s lives and active in social justice issues. I still have physical limitations, but I am able to do much more than I could five years ago. I began to notice how passionately I wrote in this blog about social concerns. And I began to realize that it’s time to find a way to do both. I’m not sure yet what I’ll settle on, but I have a few ideas to explore. I live near one of the poorest and most crime-ridden cities in the country, so I should have a few options. I know now that the creative end of things is where I feel called vocationally, but avocationally I need to act in some way to put hands and feet to the concerns that burn in my heart. It’s time to be whole.

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