For those who follow me on social media, you may have already seen this: I’m celebrating 10 years of living in the DC metro area.
My mom came to visit this past weekend, and we laughed about how she was sure that when I moved to DC bad things would happen (more on that later). We reminisced about the times when I made sweeping changes in my life without really knowing what the future would hold. For instance, halfway through my time at university, when I was majoring in zoology and was on a pre-veterinary track, I decided that veterinary medicine was something I no longer wanted to pursue.
People couldn’t accept this. I had known since I was young that I wanted to be a vet. I only applied to one college because I knew I was going there to major in zoology and get on their pre-vet track. I had been working at an animal hospital in high school and already had large animal experience from a summer in college. But I knew — in my brain or in my heart or in my gut — somewhere, my body and soul was telling me that it wasn’t right. The most frustrating thing was trying to explain to people what I would do next, because I didn’t know. One person actually asked me if I planned on flipping burgers for the rest of my life.
This was just the beginning of me trying to discern my calling. I worked at a Barnes & Noble for a while in college, and one day the store supervisor recommended I interview for a supervisor position. I thought I was unqualified. I thought that surely I was too young. I wasn’t even working there full-time at that point, and it was a position for a full-time person. I politely told her I didn’t think I was the right candidate. She encouraged me to at least interview, saying it would be good practice for the future. I respected her greatly and thought she made a good point, so I did. After the interview, she offered me the position. It took me a while to understand that she recognized in me something I didn’t see in myself, and that taking the promotion was another leap of faith.
I loved working at Barnes & Noble; I met wonderful people there, learned much about the workplace, and was surrounded by books! But my time there was relatively short-lived. Not too long before I graduated (with that degree in zoology), I decided I was going to move to the DC area. I had become interested in working for a non-profit company, and for those who don’t know: northern Virginia is the capital of non-profits! About two weeks after graduating college early one semester, I moved in with someone I really didn’t know. I also didn’t have a job, but I figured I could find something quickly (and I did). I gave myself a year: if it didn’t work out, I could always move back home. Mom gave me a matter of months. Before she came to visit me in northern Virginia and realized that everything was okay, she was waiting for a phone call telling her I had been murdered. We laugh about this now, but I do think she was pretty anxious.
So enough about my life story…I’m writing all of this because I want to know: do you ever go places or do things without truly knowing where the road leads? When you look out across the horizon and you don’t see what’s at the end of it, does that stop you from pursuing the sunset or the sunrise? Some people stay in place — literally or figuratively — because it’s safe. I like to feel safe but I don’t like to feel stuck. I used to get this yearning to pick up and go somewhere else or to look for another job to try something new. It was like an itch that I couldn’t scratch. That’s calmed down a lot…I’m married, I have two cats, I’m a homeowner…but sometimes I hear a call and I wonder whether or not I’ll answer. A calling is what led me to write my first book.
Everybody has a call story. What’s yours and where will you go?