When I was 15 years old, I walked into English class on the first day of school of a new year. I’d been waiting through the long hours of P.E., of chemistry, of Algebra 2 to get to English class, the subject I loved most.
My teacher stood in front of us, leaned against his old metal desk, and explained what we’d be covering through the Fall. “We’ll be studying the theme of Coming of Age – the transition from childhood to adulthood. We’ll read many different novels that tell this story in diverse ways, and as we read, we’ll discover the universal themes across diverse accounts of this rite of passage.”
Then he told us about the books we were going to read – Lord of the Flies, Black Boy, A Separate Peace… I noticed something odd: none were written by women and none were about a girl coming of age. I knew that wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t right for a classroom of girls and boys to only read stories about boys.
But what was most remarkable about that day was this: I felt a strange surge of energy. It wasn’t anger – it was more like momentum, vitality, passion. It came with a feeling of “I’m going to do something about this.”
At the time, I was a little lost – in teenage rebellion, in hating my body, in being bored with high school. Suddenly, I wasn’t bored, or lost or hating. I was excited about something. I was working toward something.
I talked to teachers and administrators, helped form a committee, raised money for new books, and a couple years later, the curriculum was changed and new books by and about women had been added. This was my first experience of what I now recognize as following a calling. It’s so damn sweet.
The Right Question
I’m not a fan of the question, “What’s my calling?” because the question is stressful, and it also implies we each only have one calling. I am, however, a fan of the question, “What’s calling me right now?”
I think we each receive many callings, that they come and go, that our goal is not to find the one right answer about our callings, but to become more responsive to the many callings we receive over a lifetime. Callings, like everything else, have a lifespan.
I also believe that callings can be big or small. Some have to do with our careers, some with helping a particular cause or even a particular person in need. Some callings are to organize a particular event, or project – they might last just a few weeks. What distinguishes a calling is not its duration or the domain of life in which it shows up. It’s the inexplicable feeling of “this work is mine to do,” and the sense of rightness, momentum and love that fills us as we do the work.
But it’s not all peace and pleasure. Most of us resist our biggest, most important callings. Our primary reaction to them is “Who me? Definitely not me. That’s too big for me.” Most of us come to our callings after years of avoiding and denying them. That’s okay.
A lot of us get caught up in, “But I have to pay the bills! I can’t follow this calling.” But I have yet to meet a woman whose calling demanded that it be the way she pay her mortgage – or her rent. Especially early on. Our callings are simply begging us for some level of expression in our lives – a few hours in the morning, a few days a week or a bit of time on the weekends – whatever it is.
Your first work is to take the simple step to make that happen, to not get distracted by questions about how you could ever do this thing full-time.
We can play big in lots of other ways, but I don’t think there is a more exciting ride than playing bigger with your callings.
P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program this year, be sure to check out our recent post about our Playing Big programs HERE so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you’re interested in.
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I had to do a paper on A Day I Will Never Forget. I had written the paper already has to be 2 pages long no more no less. And double spaced 12 font. My last paper i had done i got a c-. My aunt loves to write papers and she helps me but my teacher is just really really hard. I need to do better on this one. If anyone can give me some pointers and i can revise it...and make is a little bit better since im sick with strep and cant go to the writing lab on monday. Thanks
Attack of the Bees
The day that will forever hold a place in my mind is the day I was attacked by bees. I was 11 at the time, living with my mother, stepfather, and two younger sisters. We lived in an apartment that was not of the greatest quality. The outside was very shabby and dirty with faded white siding. My friends and I often played in a field out back where we had many memories such as playing soccer, breaking my collarbone, and playing Frisbee.
It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was beating down and there was a gentle breeze. When I looked out my living room window, the field was calling my name. The luminous green grass swaying from side to side begged me to frolic in it. Therefore, my sister Megan and I called up my best friend Brendan to join us in a delightful game of Frisbee. When Brendan got to the field; we all formed a triangle and started throwing the Frisbee around. We were all having such a wonderful time until Megan over threw it right into the woods. It appeared to have landed right by an old fort that Brendan and I had built when we were little.
Then we all decided to walk over and retrieve the Frisbee; we were on a mission. We climbed over the string of honeysuckle bushes and dodged the sticks that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The small section of woods was a jungle of leaves and thorn bushes. We could not get very far without thorns rushing out and ripping up our skin. Then, Megan had stepped on a mound of leaves and unleashed thousands of enraged bees. They swarmed all around us, forming what looked like a yellow cloud of smoke. While clenching onto one another, screaming for aid, we knew we were helpless. After several minutes, I ran through the cloud to get help. I could feel the bees rage as they continued to sting my entire body.
Finally, still screaming as I reached the field, I started to feel weak. My mother heard my cries and came rushing out like a bobcat after her young, as I collapsed on the ground. She called 911 and yelled out to hear the other two. When the fire department arrived, they hosed down Brendan and Megan while I was rushed to the hospital. As I came to, the doctors had told my mother and me that I had been stung over one hundred times. I was as swollen and puffy as a marshmallow.
All in all this was the most horrific thing that has ever happened to me. Not only am I now terrified of bees but also I am highly allergic all because of that dreadful accident. I can honestly say I will never forget that sunny afternoon.
You have made a great start here. A little tweaking here and there is all it needs.
Generally, it's best to start with a strong first sentence that sums up what the essay will be about. Try starting with the last sentence in the first paragraph. ("The day that will forever," etc.)
Using "seemed" weakens your writing. Instead of "The small section of woods seemed as if it were a jungle. Leaves and thorn bushes were everywhere" how about "The small section of woods was a jungle of leaves and thorn bushes."
Using metaphors makes your writing more colorful, as you know. Although I didn't really understand the comparison of your mother to a bobcat, I really like your marshmallow simile!
Watch out for repetitions such as "not even make it" which you use twice in a row. Vary your phrasing and sentence structure to make it more interesting.
Some of your phrasing is a little formal. For example, "I ran threw the cloud to retrieve further assistance." It's "through" not "threw" and "retrieve further assistance" is too formal here. Just say "get help." Formal words like "therefore" are all right with legal writing, but don't really belong in this type of personal essay. You are essentially writing from the viewpoint of an eleven-year-old, so unless you would have thought words like "frolic" at that time, it's best to choose something more age-appropriate.
I'd eliminate "We did not even make it to the flying when the most horrible, terrifying thing happened." The first part doesn't make sense to me and you don't need to announce that something bad happened. Your descriptions will tell the reader that. Remember this important rule of writing: Show, don't tell! Or, as Anton Chekov put it: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
I hope these comments are useful to you. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance!
Your essay does, indeed, have details and coherence! Just a few little things pop out to me. A couple of places you use an auxiliary with your verb when it would be better not to: Say "Megan stepped on a mound," instead of "had stepped." "The doctors told my mother" instead of "had told." This brings the reader more into the action.
The last sentence of your opening paragraph is a little awkward. Did you mean to say that your friends had memories of you breaking your collarbone? Try writing it a few different ways and be sure to read it out loud to see how it sounds.
I don't find any comma splices or sentence fragments -- good job!
Best of luck!