My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Jedziniak, made a big distinction between our avocations and our vocations. In trying to help us understand the difference between the roots of these two words, she discussed the idea of a “calling” for a vocation versus a “calling away” for an avocation. While we might have a vocation, a job we did, our avocations were the activities and passions our hearts were drawn to. These avocations were the things we would do regardless of money or working life. These were our passions.
I remember this because I see that most of us walk a line somewhere between our vocation and avocation. Many of us start off following what we feel is our calling. We train, make education choices, take jobs, internships, and meet connections all in hopes of landing our dream job. For many of us, though, landing that first job becomes more of an education in the world of work that an experience of blissfully having arrived at our true calling. There is, after all, so much to be learned about the working world that has nothing to do with passion. The working world contains rules, bosses and time sheets and deadlines and etiquette and politics and ladders to be climbed and backsides to be kissed.
So, it is only after being in the working world for awhile–whatever field someone goes into–that a person can really understand the definition or concept of the term “dream job”. Now that all of the elements that go into a job have been introduced, a person can move on to start to think about what his or her dream job might look like.
I am interested in the leaps of faith people take in moving up the ladder in their careers or in the beginning stages of creating their careers. These leaps of faith are times when a person simply imagines oneself into a job, and through a bold move or a decision takes on a task or job that he or she may not be qualified for–may not have the money for–may not even have the time for–and simply makes it happen because of the bold vision of the desired job waiting for them at the end of the road.
For me, this has happened multiple times. I remember when I was first working toward becoming a teacher, 15 years ago, I took a job one summer at a summer school for ESL students out in western MA. I really had very little ESL experience. My training was in English Literature. But because I knew this would get me real-time teaching experience in the classroom, I took it. Another summer around that time I also accepted the position of Assistant Direction of a college summer program for ESL students. Again, I had little to no ESL training, except for that previous summer experience now under my belt. And, so, I became the Assistant Director of something. I had never Assistant Directed anything! These leaps of faith, however, did give me the classroom time I was looking for. The very basic experience of standing up in front of a classroom and teaching. From these moves, I began to feel like and become a teacher.
My move into creating a freelance writing career came about in an even more mind-over-matter way. I began to call myself a writer in certain situations whenever someone asked about my job. When filling out a name tag, I would put my name and then the title “writer” for my career. I did this for two reasons. I felt like it gave me a little bit of an alter ego. And, I was also, whether I knew it or not, carving out a place for myself in my identity in which being a writer was a real thing. The more I played that role, the more I became that role. And now, a few years later, I can indeed say that I am a freelance writer, in addition to my full-time job of educator.