Some time ago, I read somewhere that when you’re an adult struggling to find your calling, chances are you’ll find clear signs of it by digging into your childhood. If one is too lazy to do that, one just looks for a job.
That’s exactly what I did. Before looking for my calling, I held on to a job for a long time only to realize that my calling was right under my nose.
First, you may wonder “What’s the difference between a job and a vocation?”
Well, according the Oxford dictionary:
A job is “a paid position of regular employment or a task or piece of work, especially one that is paid”.
Whereas a vocation is “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.”
Now, I won’t lie; in the early years of my previous career, I felt like I had found my calling. I was a translator (from English into French) for 13 years, of which 3 years as an in-house translator (employee) and 10 years as a freelance translator. Indeed, the first years of my translator’s career were so exciting; I had moved from France to Canada after being hired by a Canadian translation company. I was discovering a new country and culture and learning a whole lot professionally.
After a few years, the routine of staring at a computer screen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and translating repetitive documents started to get to me. So I decided to set up my own business as a translator. I felt chained to my computer and I wanted freedom. Being a freelance translator allowed me to travel at my leisure and discover many places, including Europe (France, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany), Canada (Montreal, Toronto), Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, to name a few. Each time I traveled, I felt fulfilled; I met new people, listened to new languages, tasted new foods, and had new experiences. Then I would find myself back in front of my computer screen translating and slowly regressing into depression, stress and irritability.
Over the years, it became clear to me that I was not pursuing my vocation. The only thing that mattered to me when I received a new text to translate was how much money I would make from it. I was in a frantic race for money, saying to myself day in day out, “Come on, translate more to have more money, to have more freedom, and to be happier. However, my reality was turning out quite different; the more I translated, the more I felt chained to my computer and deprived of freedom, the more frustrated I was, and the less happy I was. The only things that gave my life some balance were an exceptional woman I had met and the two beautiful children we had. I was now a father and I wanted to be the best father in the world since I had grown up without one. I felt that the Universe had entrusted me with a great responsibility. I had to work to provide for my family, but I still had that uncomfortable feeling of reluctantly working a job rather than fulfilling a vocation. I rarely derived any pleasure from translation and essentially felt trapped between greed for money and fear of not having enough. This vicious circle lasted for years until… Covid-19.
Indeed, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I lost my entire clientele in a short span of time. No more translation. I was out of work, and it was a very bitter pill to swallow. It took months to digest. One day I was mourning my old career and thinking about my new one (which I had no idea of). The next day, I was nervously looking for a job in the translation industry out of fear of not finding anything. This could not continue; I had to put an end to that daily emotional roller coaster. So I began to focus on my well-being, including meditation, morning runs, reading (mostly about investment and personal development) and painting. That slowly led me to see what was going on. Was losing my job really a horrible thing? Wasn’t I sick of being a translator? You bet I was. Even though things hadn’t turned out the way I would have liked them to, I was somehow in a better place and could now focus on what I really wanted to do. I could find my calling! Now, what could it be? What did I love so passionately that I could turn it into a business? I had no idea. All I knew was that the one daily activity that really made me forget that I was unemployed and penniless, on good and bad days, was painting. At the time, I was working on my biggest work to date, Afrikan Puzzle.
A few months back, I had gotten back to drawing out of boredom; I had drawn a few portraits and was surprised that I still had a good hand. Soon after, while cleaning our house, I came across a nice painting box that belonged to my partner. She had started painting as a hobby when we first met and had eventually put it aside over time. That painting box was in perfect condition and full of tubes of paint, brushes, solvent, everything a beginner needs.
So I decided to paint one my portraits and was pretty satisfied with the result. Since then I had been drawing and painting more and more. Maybe, the vocation I was looking for was right under my nose. The more I painted the better I felt. I could paint for hours without feeling bored with it. Theme ideas for paintings were flashing through my mind. I was truly getting in touch with my creative power. Had I found my calling? Yes! I felt like a fish in water. I felt fulfilled. My artseed had sprouted and was growing. The funny thing is that it had always been there; I just had to water and nurture it. Since then, I’ve been doing just that every day and I would be happy to share my growth with you through this section of my website. Also, I encourage you to live your calling or find it if you haven’t already. Find your seed and water it. Let it germinate, grow, take root in you every day in order to blossom fully in this great forest that is the world.