Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crying out for Purpose

I sometimes feel like a "Jill-of-all-trades" with just a job, not a life work that I love or a true calling. I have several people close to me who have that sense of having purpose and have been able to pursue their passion. I don't know what mine is, and I'm almost 40.

There have been times in my life where I thought I knew what my purpose in life was supposed to be, but I've never followed through (like next level of schooling) for a variety of reasons. I got my BA in Cultural Anthropology but never pursued anything in that field. Some things I've tried: acupressure, herbalism, nursing assistant with the intention of doing hospice care, basic dance instructor...

Past Pursuits
Acupressure: did very well at this for several years but struggled at the end with lack of continuing education and mental/physical fatigue (did I mention my high level of empathy as well as my EDS?). I can go into this more at a later time - loooong story.

Herbalism: I entered a group apprenticeship for a year and left after ~4 months in complete frustration. The teacher was not teaching anything that was promised and got sidetracked by another student to focus on flower essences, which I just couldn't believe in. I wanted the true, traditional herbalism and this teacher was supposed to be reputable. This coincided with one of the biggest mistakes in my life - I turned down an interview with the National Park Service for a guide job at Mesa Verde in Colorado because I had enrolled in this apprenticeship program. Made the feelings of frustration and being cheated even worse.

Hospice home-health aid/nursing assistant: My beloved grandmother died and was in hospice care at home. I was so impressed by the hospice workers, plus my interest in healing, that I tried to find a meaningful direction in that regard. I enrolled in the local nurses aid training program and did well throughout. I got a job in the facility where the training was done (nursing home) in the dementia wing. I planned to log some hours there and then go on to the home health-aid program. One of the things that drew me to working with the elderly is listening to them and treating them humanely. I say this because too many nursing facilities are horrible. I discovered two problems in my new job: a) I was rushed around so much that I couldn't possibly treat anyone like a human (and most aids didn't!), and b) I had a bad reaction to something that caused my hands to welt up and itch like crazy for a few days. I took those days off and then quit.

Acupuncture: So, with my ideas and skills in tow, I thought I had made up my mind to pursue a career in acupuncture with a focus on pain management. I was excited because one of the best schools in the country was in my State! I was working on my prereqs for a Master's program when life happened instead - let's just say that it was the worst year in my life. I ended up moving 3000 miles away to start over again. I got married and settled here. Since I was now irreversibly thwarted from that path, I've felt lost.

Motherhood: I also felt strongly that I was meant to be a mother. I always thought that meant that I would have a baby; however, God gave me two beautiful, older step-children. Weird how that works. Sometimes the sadness of letting go that dream of having my own baby is overwhelming, but it gets easier with time. Realistically, I could not raise a baby now that my EDS is a challenge. There is a young woman I know who just got pregnant and is so thrilled! She just glows. It makes me wish for the ignorance of my 20s, but that would have changed the course of my life and who knows what shape I'd be in now (plus I would not have met my husband - not acceptable!). Again, I have felt a bit lost since that dream is never going to manifest.

Teaching intrigues me and is what my grandfather has wanted me to do since I was young. I am scared that I will not be able to complete the training in a full classroom because I simply don't have the physical energy and cognitive strength I used to have in my 20s. I like the challenge of learning and I've been told I have a gift for teaching. Some alternatives to full classrooms are tutoring and ESL classes. If I got my Master's, I could teach at the Community College level as well. First, I have to take the GRE's and I am terrified! I cruised through the english part of it in the study guides I bought. Then I got to the math section and couldn't get through the first page!!! I think I have to take a math class before I can take the GREs. :( Did I ever mention how much I hate math and that it's always been hard for me? When we get in a better financial place, I'll sign up for a dreaded class. I don't think the GRE study classes, like Kaplan, offer math classes/tutoring so I'm looking into the community colleges around here. Yikes!

And then there is the healing ministry I feel called to. I want to sit with people who are dying and are alone. I want to listen to those who are challenged by life. I want to help others while helping myself. I also enjoy being an advocate for EDS. Our local area doesn't have a support group and I think it's possible to organize one.

My great concern is that I will let my energy get sucked away by those in need and I will overextend myself. I have a full-time job with a commute that take most of my energy. I sleep most of the weekend to get enough energy for the next week. Where is the balance?

Have I missed the boat?

What is your purpose in life? If you weren't born knowing it, how did you figure it out?