I’ve been seeing a lot of quotes lately about becoming someone. Now that I am all old and thirty, I feel like I’ve done that. I feel like I’ve become someone.
I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be an artist and a writer. I received my calling. I pulled the sword from the stone and read my life’s purpose on the blade.
That’s all it takes, right?
There is the thought that once one knows what they were meant to be that it should be all good from there. I should become good at this simply because I know this is my calling. Because I have this sword, I deserve to slay dragons, and with ease. I deserve to be good at this. I know what I am meant to be, after all.
How often do we work on that inspired thing, work and work and worked only to have it fail? But why? Why are we so bad? I’ve pulled the stinking sword out. I know what I should be doing. Then why am I so bad at this?
A few years back, I was watching a friend dance at a ballroom competition. Her dancing was beautiful and ethereal, as were the other competitors. They floated around the floor. Effortless. A young woman sighed next to me. “I’d give anything to dance like that.”
I thought of what my friend gave to dance like that. Knowing her well, I had a bit of an insight into what she’d given to dance. Countless red eye mornings before classes to practice, the not so glamorous monotony of drilling the specifics. For hours and hours. For years. You aren’t trading some magical token; you are giving something far more precious. Your time.
The effortless appearance of the dancing is a dangerous lie. It might make it seem if you aren’t able to just get up and float you’ll never be able to. Your talent or calling will make itself known through brilliant skill, and if it doesn’t come easy it must not be your calling. But you can work to learn to dance. You have to work to learn to dance.
The purpose of reading the message on the sword, of knowing your purpose, isn’t in deserving that talent. That isn’t the purpose of the message of your calling. The purpose of knowing your calling is giving you the energy it takes to try. The passion to make it through failures over and over. To make it through the not so glamorous of the every day.
It is both discouraging and wildly liberating. You were meant to fail. You were meant to work hard to become something better. That is what you were meant for. You were meant to take action and determine what you become.
An old work friend posted this.
“George Bernard Shaw said: ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.'”
“That is true. I think of it this way: There are those who see themselves on this earth as simply growing up—helpless in a way. They eat, they sleep, and they live their lives. They watch themselves get taller and older. They let the world mold them and allow their circumstances to dictate their future. It is as if they are watching the wind swirl around a block of sandstone. The years go by until, finally, one day a shape is created. Or we can decide the kind of person we want to become, grip the chisel, and go to work. The sculpture being created is now of our creation. “
—Rosemary M. Wixom