On a Non-Traditional Path? That's Okay.

6 things I'm learning about calling in my first decade of adulthood
On a Non-Traditional Path? That's Okay.

School made so much sense to me. I went to first grade. I did well. I went on to second grade. When I did well there, I went to third grade. For me, the staircase of education kept things clear. The goal was before me, and I knew what I had to do to get there.

I believed my calling would operate the same way. I would get a job. I would do well. The next job would unfold like magic. I’d get promoted. Within a couple years I would be a “YBP” (young black professional) whose path just appeared (like it did in school).

Then I became an adult.

My vocational calling has been more circles than staircases: a dizzying array of decisions, disappointments, and dreams come true—sort of.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my first ten years of adulthood.

1. Vocational Calling Is Constantly Unfolding

In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, author Zora Neale Hurston writes, “There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer.” Though Hurston’s character Janie was grappling with ideas of love and marriage, I am finding the truthfulness of her words stretches easily into this space of vocational calling.

My husband and I just experienced a year of answers. We were living in Chicago where my career was thriving. I was doing work I love with people I love. Nonetheless, it was time for me and my husband to move to Michigan, where he is licensed, so his career could thrive too. We had a lot of questions determining how to make that transition, but 2014 was our year of answers. We relocated to Grand Rapids, where both of our careers are finding an anchor.

While I am grateful for this season, I am fully aware that being a resident director isn’t going to last forever. In a couple years, I will be right back in a year of questions determining what my vocational calling looks like after living among college students.

I am learning to enjoy the unfolding. It’s easy for me to become bored with the years that answer, yearning for questions, the seed of adventure. When the questions come, I long for the security of answers. Realizing that calling unfolds slowly gives me greater confidence to dream greater dreams in the question years and to dig deeper into the answer years.

2. I Believe in “Side Hustles”

Legal ones, of course, but side hustles nonetheless. I wanted desperately to believe my vocational calling would also be my full-time job. Though my parents regularly encouraged me to “have a job that pays the bills and volunteer time to my vocation,” I, quite frankly, rebelled. I love doing volunteer work, but I wanted my calling to come with a paycheck that pays the bills. Now I am finding the middle ground. I do greatly enjoy my full-time job (and paying bills), but giving myself permission to have a side hustle has been liberating.

Austin Channing Brown

Austin Channing Brown is a TCW regular contributor and columnist. A resident director and multicultural liaison at Calvin College, Austin is passionate about racial reconciliation—and has a slight obsession with books. When she's not reading, you'll find Austin watching HGTV or updating her blog AustinChanning.com.

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Calling; Career; Work
Today's Christian Woman, March Week 1, 2015
Posted March 4, 2015

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