Finding a Vocation While Working in a Career.

It's taken me quite some time to write this post. It's been lurking in my Drafts folder for over a year. Maybe closer to 18 months. It's taken me so long to hit Publish because I wasn't ready. The conversation we're going to have today (and I hope you leave a comment to make this a conversation) is something that rolled around in my heart and head for a while. You see, I am a successful 30-year-old woman who has held various positions in life. For some of which I am proud, others not-so-much. I needed to have some time to live this blog post. To find it and test it and live it and struggle with it.

If I am going to be honest, I struggle with it now as I type.

So, out with it already, right?! I am not a person that defines myself by my career. I used to be, although not so much anymore. Let me be clear, I really, really enjoy my job as a coach for new teachers. There are some days I would repeat over and over again because they were so wonderful and fulfilling. Of course, there are other days that completely throw me off balance and make me question a job change just to avoid the pressures of the work.

Regardless of the work that I do to earn an income, it is not my income or that work which defines me. I was talking with some new friends that I connected with at the Women in Nature retreat (Hey Lindsay and Erin!) and we chatted about how for this very reason introductions are sometimes hard.

For example, I might introduce a friend as, "Kara, my friend who works as an in-home physical therapist assistant". When in actuality, her job doesn't describe her as a person in any way. It gives no relevant information about her, simply her job. Instead, I could introduce her as, "Kara, my friend of over 20 years who is a fantastic mom and has a huge heart."

Depending on the context of an introduction, sharing a persons work - their career - is essential. I get it. Have we taken it too far? I think we have. Throughout my 20s I defined myself solely has a teacher. High school language arts and journalism.

That was it. I had nothing else to offer. I was (am) a great educator with a bachelor and masters degree in education, with not much other value outside of the classroom. I am funny, and caring, and have a heart for all things living - but those things didn't define me. They were little things.

We often, mistakenly define ourselves by our careers. Our work. What makes us money and pays for our dental insurance.

That's not what defines you, my friend, and we both know it.

You and I are defined by our passions, our character, how we bless others and how we use the blessings given to us.

We are defined by how we treat others, how we treat our earth, and how we treat the creatures on this earth.

Our ability to be generous - in any capacity and every form - helps us create our definition.

This post is so hard to write because now what?! Where do we go from here? Do we all quit our jobs and go around complimenting each other about how kind we are and how passionate we are about knitting? (I know some of you gave it some thought.)

No, no. We must feed ourselves and pay for our goods and services.

If we aren't defining ourselves by our careers anymore, that means we need to shift our focus from our work to ourselves. Our families. Our passions. The things that light a fire in our bellies.

For me that means taking the extra 10% from the 110% that I exude in my day job and divert that to the 'things' that define me. If I am going to give anything extra, it will be given to those things that give me butterflies, make me lightheaded with excitement, and make my face numb with joy.

Starting now.

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  3. Thank you for this Kelli!! It is SO good and needed for me right now! I desire to shift more energy from my job to my family and my passions!
    Side note: I have a friend who always asks "how do you spend your time?" to get to know someone instead of "what do you do?" She had such an amazing way of wanting to know about someone beyond what they get paid to do!

    1. I really like that, "How do you spend your time?" I am going to begin using that question from now on!

  4. The world needs more of this. Thank you for saying it here. How much more fulfilled would we be if we identify ourselves in this way.

    I am reading The Untethered Soul right now. It is all about defining who you are versus identifying yourself as a role or experience. It's very enlightening. :-)

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation! I am looking for a few new summer reads :)

  5. Wonderful post Kelli! You hit the nail on the head. I often think to myself..."I'm just a stay at home mom", one that many days wants to pull her hair out, but I truly "think" people think more of me than just a stay at home mom. They don't see me in the light for which I see myself, you know? You are a gem Kelli! Cannot wait to come visit that homestead soon.

    1. You're right, Ally! The story in your head is lying to you. You are a mom and so much more.

  6. Love this post! You are so right and I think it's something that every woman struggles with at some point in their adult life! I'm so glad to have gotten to "know" you and hope we get to meet IRL sometime soon!

    1. Yep, it's definitely a young woman thing. And somewhat of a mid-life man thing too :)

  7. My childhood consisted of my father repeatedly placing my intrinsic value in whether or not I would get a college degree, and go on do to something 'worthwhile.' Writing was absolutely not worthwhile. Neither was being a stay at home mom (which I'm not mom yet, but when I am, I will only work if I choose to do so, not because it's expected of me). Really, anything that wasn't being a doctor, accountant, or lawyer wasn't 'worthwhile.' (This went beyond the point of him wanting me to do well for myself - I can recall far more times where he called me a miserable failure he was ashamed of than I can recall him being proud of me, or saying that he loved me. And most of the time when he said he loved me, it was followed by something he wanted me to do for him.)

    As a result of his words and actions, I quickly found ways to define myself outside of a career. Some days, it may not feel like I'm as accomplished as many people, but then I look around at my life and see how many blessings I have, and how happy I am with the life I'm pursuing. I love my garden (just not the Oklahoma weather, ugh), and I love my animals, and I love to be able to tell my stories. And these are all things that, while they don't have a monetary income attached to them for the most part, will be things that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren, and to me that makes it worth so much more.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Rebekah. You have a great testimonial for the deep impact that a vocation can have on our lives.

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