It’s six in the morning; the alarm clock on my mobile phone is going off until I shut it off. I stare up at the ceiling; rays of the morning sun lick my face through the glass panes of my window. “Am I alive? Or am I just breathing?” I think to myself. I take a deep breath and let it out. I’m actually a little bit of both. Somewhere between I want it and I got it. Perhaps everyone has come to that point at least once in their lives, that point wherein one feels like everything is going generally well in life but it still feels like something is missing. With furrowed brows, I take a look into my life. I have a wonderful, loving and caring family. I live a very comfortable and blessed life and I’m able to enjoy a significant amount of luxuries and privileges. I have all my senses intact and I’m in pretty good shape. I am in a good, stable and happy relationship with a wonderful woman. I was able to buy my own car and split an investment in a condominium with my father, I was also able to buy him a car with the help of my mom. I have a few side hustles that have not yet fully panned out but I think are getting there; I have significant investments and savings. I am really thankful for these blessings and I have a feeling of happiness, contentment and a sense of accomplishment when it comes to these aspects of life. But there is something missing. And deep inside, I know what it is. I know what is eating away at my overall happiness. It is the grind of my day job, the day job where a huge majority of my life is spent at. The same day job that provide me the money to fulfill my financial responsibilities, that provides me the money to buy things and experiences that bring me the happiness I seek, that can make up for the unhappiness and the lack of fulfillment that I feel where I am right now. The dead end cycle that I am in where I have to do what doesn’t make me happy in order to earn money to pay for things that do, to reach the goals I’ve set. Some will say that this is the sacrifice that needs to be made in order to build a good future; some will say that this is something that everyone needs to do in order to live a better life later on, to a certain extent, this is true. But I can’t fully accept that, I can’t fully accept that this is how life is supposed to be. I do believe that sacrifices need to be made and there is no substitute for hard work but what is it all for? For money? Yes, money is a huge factor and it is important in life, it is required but the way to make it is something that I believe is not fixed. A part of me is telling me to just say “Screw it. Leave your job.” But it isn’t that simple because of the financial responsibilities that I have which are covered by what I make at this job. I only have a few things going for me there, the fact that I get to see my girlfriend every day, the pay is more than decent and the location is very convenient. But other than that, I see it as a means to a few ends. But these ends (Fulfilling financial obligations, saving and investing) seem to be so shallow. There is no higher purpose for me here; I have no aspirations in this industry. Then that inner voice whispers to me, “Then go switch industries. Find another job.” I could do that but I am highly doubtful that there is another job out there that pays the same way that I need it to or if there is one, I have not found it yet and I am also doubtful that it will pay the way I need it to right off the bat, it took me 3 years to make what I’m making now and the financial obligations (both these obligations are necessities to me (My car and the Condo Investment) I need to fulfill have a long time horizon before they are complete. So you see, it’s like falling into a trap. But don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the job I have and what the salary does for my present and for my future. But I really can’t shake this feeling that’s eating away at the very core of my being. I often ask myself, is this all that life is cracked up to be? This can’t be it. There has to be more to it than this. There has to be more meaning than this. Then I stumbled upon this article on www.artofmanliness.com and it is a 5 part series (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/05/24/finding-your-calling-part-i-what-is-a-vocation/ is the link to Part 1 which has the links within it for Parts 2 to 5.) that talks about “Finding Your Calling” and reading through entire series really opened my eyes and some quotes hit home very squarely and moved me. I would like to take this time to share them with you and add a little bit of how I feel about them.
“A Job. Those who see their work as a job are those who belt out “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” with great gusto. They live for breaks, for vacation. The job is simply a means to the end: a paycheck. They need to support their family/pay their rent, and this is the ticket they punch to do it. The job may not be terrible, but it offers the worker very little real satisfaction.” - This is where I am at right now.
“A Vocation/Calling. A vocation is work you do for its own sake; you almost feel like you’d do it even if you didn’t get paid. The rewards of wages and prestige are peripheral to getting to use one’s passion in a satisfying way. Those in a vocation feel that their work has an effect on the greater good and an impact beyond themselves. They believe that their work truly utilizes their unique gifts and talents. This is what they were meant to do.” - This is what I am searching for, this is what I am seeking. Although I already have a general idea as to what it is, it’s more the “how” that I am seeking, that I am hustling for.
“True, I know men, and I’m sure you do too, who are working in jobs that don’t fit them at all in order to make a living, and outwardly they put on a fairly happy face. But I often see an anger in these men emerge in less guarded moments-in road rage, heavy drinking, and resentment towards others. It can just eat at you inside, literally. More heart attacks occur on Monday morning than at any other time; men return to jobs they loathe and their blood pressure soars.”
“Find what you really love to do and then go after it-relentlessly. And don’t fret about the money. Because what you love to do is quite likely what you’re good at. And what you’re good at will likely bring you financial reward eventually. I’ve seen too many people who have plotted a career, and often what’s behind it is nothing other than a stack of dollar bills. You need to be happy in order to be good, and you need to be good to succeed. And when you succeed, there’s a good chance you’ll get paid.” - This is a very striking quote for me, it really hit home and made a whole lot of sense.
“Staying in a dead end job is often seen as the more practical choice, but there is an irresistible practicality to the idea of vocation as well. The man in the job he hates may sometimes make more money, but he also spends more money, trying to buy things and experiences that will make up for how miserable he is at work. He has to do what doesn’t make him happy to earn money to pay for things that do. In contrast, the man in a vocation is the truly frugal man. He’s not living for the next vacation; he doesn’t need a big screen TV to make him happy; he’s not paying a shrink and a doctor to tend to his diminishing mental and physical health. He doesn’t need much to get by and that’s true freedom.” This is another one that struck me very much because it is currently where I’m in right now, where a big chunk of my life and my time goes to. It’s hard to believe I’ve survived 3 years in this situation.
“The way to a larger opportunity is never meanly sneaking out from under the little duty of to-day, but climbing bravely through it and off the top; and then the better chance usually comes.” You may need to moonlight in a second job until you can quit your day job; you may need to find the expression of your talents in your avocation; you may simply need to find more opportunities in your current job that allow you to use your unique strengths. A determined man who knows how to hustle can find a responsible way to balance his duties and his passions.” - This is what I am hustling towards, what I am aspiring towards, although what I’m currently moonlighting in may not be my passion, it does bring a certain degree of satisfaction, but for me, it is not enough but it is also geared towards the freedom I so desire.
Faced with these set of questions from Part 4 of the series, this allowed me to really think about it, to really ponder on it, I will share these set of questions along with my answers as well.
· As a boy, what did you love to do? Write? Read? Sports? Working on models? Playing with a chemistry set? Spending time outdoors? Pretending to be a solider or a spy? – As a kid, I liked to play with my toy cars and action figures or spending time outside riding my bike and playing with toy guns, building some out of my large Lego blocks too. I also enjoyed climbing trees and just being on the move outside.
· During school group projects, what job did other students assign to you, or did you volunteer for? – Hmm, this is a tough one to recall but most of the time, I found myself reading the reports or presenting them.
· What aspects of your current job do you love, which do you loathe? – I like the flexibility and leniency of the schedule and the fact that it pays well. I loathe the fact that it isn’t what I went to school for nor is it my passion, plus the fact that I am just at a cubicle all day.
· What kinds of projects and jobs at work and at home do you get excited about? What kinds do you dread? – At work, there isn’t really much that excites me, I suppose the last thing I enjoyed was presenting something via WebEx. I dread or dislike the kinds of tasks that are boring and long and the ones that involve heavy math formulas. At home, I like to read a lot and view photos and if I have taken some photos of subjects that I really like or for a shoot, I enjoy doing post-processing on them and analyzing my work after to see where I can improve and make changes the next time around.
· Have you ever talked to a friend about a topic, a dream, or an aspiration and everything just clicked inside of you, and you felt a surge of excitement throughout your body? – Yes, I have, quite a number of times.
· What things do you see other people doing that make you ache with jealousy because you wish you were doing them? – For me, my friend Nicky Calanoc seems to have the ultimate dream job (He is a Deputy Editor at C! Magazine.) He gets to photograph cars, test drive them and write about them for a living, I think that’s pretty awesome, I’m sure this job has some mundane factors but to me, it’s pretty sweet overall. Or whenever I browse through the Speedhunters website or see the works of various car photographers, I always find myself saying “I could do that! I would love to do that!”
· What issues get you really fired up? – Issues that involve cars and photography, also issues that come to investing and money.
· What dream has nagged at you for as long as you can remember, the thing that always pops into your mind no matter how many times you dismiss it? – A dream that has nagged at me for as long as I can remember is wanting to become a professional racer or being a part of a racing team, to make a living doing what I am passionate about. The thing that always pops into my head is how can I make a living being a photographer of cars or how I can make a living by putting up a garage and tuning cars or making a living off that combination.
· What fills your thoughts in the quiet moments when you’re riding the train or lying in bed? What do you think about incessantly, what captures your imagination? Politics? Spirituality? Relationships? –My loved ones, Cars, Porsche’s, Racing, Speed, Tuning Cars, Photography, Money, Ideas for businesses.
· If time, money, education and any other obstacle was a non-issue, what kind of work would you choose to do? – I would probably be car photographer/car photo journalist of some sort for the day as well as a business owner.
· What were you doing the last time you totally lost track of time? – Reading a stack of car magazines, browsing Tumblr and deviantART for photos of cars and various subjects that really capture my attention from the standpoint of a viewer and a photographer, writing short stories (I recall writing a short story back in the summer of 2003 that I never finished as well as writing my own version of Harry Potter Book V back in 2001 which I didn’t finish either and sadly can no longer find.)
“Levoy suggests thinking of yourself like a compass. You keep one of the points of the compass fixed, while the other one is free to draw circles. Keep part of your life stable, while part of your life seeks after your calling. Eventually, you’ll be able to put both feet into your vocation.” – This second to the last point is a key point, it’s a big key to being able to pursue and embrace your passion/vocation, after realizing all your fears and obstacles and deciding to face and work to overcome them, that doesn’t mean you jump into it right now, it won’t happen overnight that’s for sure, but as mentioned, if you take the steps and formulate a plan and stick to it, eventually, you will make it to where you want and need to be.
“Sometimes we imagine that doing what we’re meant to do will feel effortless. But it’s going to be hard work. Really hard work. There will still be plenty of “dead work.” You will still have days when you won’t feel like going to work, when you want to quit. Such is the nature of all work.
But it will not be work that feels done in vain. It will be work that expands instead of contracts your spirit, that leaves you feeling more, not less alive. It will be work that stretches you, grows you, and helps you reach your potential as a man. It will be work that fills not only your hunger, but a hunger in the world. Most of all, it will give you the insurpassable feeling that there is a reason and purpose for your being here, and that you have fulfilled that purpose. That you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you were meant to do.” – This parting piece is one to remember, it serves as a reminder that it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
As much as this started out to be the ramblings of my unsettled mind and a part of it even sounding like a rant, but writing this out actually calmed my mind and helped answer some of the questions I had. Reminding me of what needs to be done.