For the past three weeks my roommate has been psycho trying to determine her vocation, her calling in life. I have sat through countless conversations drudging over majors and colleges and future plans, having little help to offer her outside of “pray about it”, and “what do you like to do?” I have subsequently felt insufficient as a roommate because I have no earth-shattering, beacon-of-light caliber advice to bestow on her. She held my hand through a terrible break-up, supported me through the following months of depression, laughed at me in my moments of insanity, and overall became a confidant and dear friend as we battled the trials of sophomore year together. So when I come up empty in her hour of need, it leads me to question my own assurance in my vocation. I took this class praying for some divine intervention telling me where to go and what to do. After a semester’s worth of classes, I know less now than I did when I began. This is in no way an affront to your teaching skills or curriculum selection, Dr. Ward; this is a testament to my lack of direction.
Let’s begin where it all started. On March 1, 1984 I entered this world as a bouncing baby girl with black hair and an angel’s face. Yeah right, I was a bloody, screaming mess, but that’s for another class. To hear my parents tell it, that was the day I decided to be a doctor. Not because my experience with the OB-GYN was a particularly pleasant one, I can’t quite recall the man, but because ever since that day, I seemed determined to heal the world. When I was 4, my greatest aspirations were to develop Diet Dr. Pepper so that my diabetic grandfather could play soda shop with me using real beverages. After he passed away, I became fixated on healing my grandmother, who has been plagued for years with a rare form of arthritis which causes her fingers to be pressed into her palm. When my friend slammed her finger in the car door my senior year of high school, I was the first to offer to release the blood under the nail using a needle and a little grunt work. My mother and I obsess over real-life medical shows, and the sight of blood and diseases gets me excited, not nauseous. Everything, from jobs to classes to life experiences, has pointed in the direction of medical school…until this year with a fateful bout with Integral Calculus and a life-changing trip to Romania.
They say seeing the world changes your outlook on it. Nothing could be truer. One week out of my life may have very well changed it completely. Upon my return from Romania, I was offered a chance to teach English in Asia for a month this summer, an opportunity I gladly accepted. This led to a change in major, and a complete overhaul of summer plans. I tend to be irrational and spontaneous, so when I broke the news to my parents that Chemistry just wasn’t in the cards, they weren’t surprised, though they still wonder just what I am going to do with an $80,000 Religious Studies degree. I, on the other hand, fear not. Nothing suites me more than my position at this moment, at this stage in my life. I had to find what I enjoyed doing. I hated Integral Calculus, and the thought of scheduling classes like Spectroscopy and Physics made me more ill than excited. So I changed my plans. Religion was something I had known all my life, but had never really understood. Here was my chance to take something very familiar to me and turn it into my focus. The greatest part about this liberal arts education is that I can still get my Chemistry minor, and by taking the appropriate classes, I hope to one day become a Physician’s Assistant, doing exactly what I have been wanting to do my entire life – take care of people. No, my name won’t be followed by and M and a D, but I also won’t have the enormous med school debt or the mentality that every patient is a diagnosis, not a person. Plus, my desire to have a family has increased in my old age. Considering the fact that med school is four years and residency is another four years after that, being a doctor didn’t fit my want for children, nor did it accommodate my need to travel for a year or so after college. I have nothing against people who want to be doctors – we still need them – but it took a trip around the world to open my eyes to the fact that that life wasn’t for me. It is taking faith to choose a major that is not quite as marketable as Chemistry, one that may actually lead to me losing my KEES money, but as John Cusack says in Say Anything, “you just described every great success story.”
All semester we have read books on amazingly ordinary people called to do incredible things – Moses and the Exodus, Martin Luther and the Civil Rights pursuit, Gandhi and the Indians. To me, the best part of all of their stories is the fact that they each tried something else first. We think it is supposed to all come to us in a blaze of glory, in a sign or a booming voice shouting from on high. Would you expect the same thing if you found yourself in a thick forest of trees? Would you wait and scream, calling on God to come and lift you out of it, or would you start walking? The same should be said about finding our vocation. If I were to be complacent with where I was, I would never know if better things were out there – if there was a path leading out of the forest. Gandhi was a terrible lawyer; Moses never quite had the grit to be a Pharaoh; Dorothy Day found herself discouraged with an agnostic lifestyle. Hopefully, my life will follow a pattern similar to theirs. I don’t expect to revolutionize the world, but I would like to say I found my calling by accident. After all, that is how I ended up here. I never really wanted to go to Georgetown; I wanted to be a Xavier Musketeer. I only applied here because it was free to do so online. Before you know it, I am taking my G-Card picture and measuring the size of my room in Knight Hall, and even now, when people ask me how I knew Georgetown was for me, it’s really hard to give them an answer, because I didn’t know, in the end, it just worked. The same goes for my vocation. How do I know that PA school is for me? I don’t, but I am willing to give it a shot, and by following that path, I may very well find a fork leading to another. A friend of mine gave me a card that read, “Sometimes on your way to your dream, you get lost, and find a better one.” That is probably the biggest lesson I have learned from this class – don’t be afraid to take that second road. I have never doubted gut-check feelings. If I did, I would be in another sorority, still dating my ex-boyfriend, working on a Chemistry degree. However, I have been pushed this year, in directions I never thought possible, taking roads that I would have never seen had I stayed in the middle of that forest, screaming like a banshee.
My ten-year plan is as follows: be open. I sincerely tried to avoid this course when it was discovered that we had to take it as part of the program. However, I went ahead and tried it out, allowing myself to be open to the plans of the Lord. To be honest, I really couldn’t tell you very much about the books we read, but I could tell you a lot about the people in this class. You were all new faces on the first day, and now you are some of my favorite to see. It has been such a pleasure getting to know everyone, as you have taught me so much about myself through your own self-discoveries. I can’t wait to see how well Meg does at being a teacher, or just where in the world the Lord calls Torey, or how Brandon survives his first encounter with the real world. I feel at a small advantage because I write this having already heard what all the rest of you have to say as I pull as much of you all into this as I pull the readings. However, this is supposed to be about me, so here goes my grand finale of lessons learned. Everything is okay. It’s okay to struggle with finding my own faith. It’s okay to worry about money, because security for my family will always be a high priority. It’s okay to want to spend time traveling and doing mission work before I settle down on a career choice, because I will never appreciate this world if I do not experience it. Above all, it’s okay to not know just exactly what I want to do with my life because sometimes, the greatest way to figure out the answers is by simply living the questions.