According to the mythologist Joseph Campbell, who popularized the “hero’s journey,” Phase 1 of responding to a calling is running from it.
A perfect example of this was captured in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, when the wizard Gandalf visits the peaceful village of the Shire and knocks on Bilbo Baggins’ front door, slyly telling him of his search for “someone to share an adventure.” Bilbo’s response was classic Phase 1: “We’re just plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
This response is actually universal and inevitable, and as such may be of some consolation if you find yourself deep in Phase 1 behavior in relation to a calling. I myself took five years to respond affirmatively to the call to leave employment for self-employment as a writer, and it took that long in part because I knew there was something trying to come through me but I was simply too scared to step aside and let it through, too scared of the pain of dissolution and uncertainty, too afraid—in that anthropologically deep way that humans naturally are—of The Unknown.
I’m often struck by the fierceness with which people (myself included) cling to the status quo even when it no longer serves them, or when it long ago turned into diminishing returns and left them feeling out of whack with themselves and transfixed by their fears like deer caught in the headlights, unable to move.
A calling, though, is an organism, a living entity, with an animus all its own. It exerts a centrifugal force on your life, constantly pushing out from within, or perhaps pulling at you the way a character in a novel- in-progress might strain at the leash, demanding to go her own way. And if you’re at all faithful to your calls, they’ll eventually lead you to a point of decision, and here you must decide whether to say yes or no, now or later, ready or not. And they’ll keep coming back until you give them answer.
But a call isn’t something that comes from on high as an order, a sort of divine subpoena, irrespective of your own free will and desire. You have choice. You have a vote! And when to say yes is entirely up to you.
Letting go of what’s familiar—a job, a relationship, a lifestyle, or a mindset—isn’t something to take lightly. I don’t belong to the sink-or-swim school of thought on making change, and therefore don’t generally recommend that people just up and quit the status quo, unless the prospect of turmoil is preferable to the psychological death you’re experiencing by staying put, in which case I say let ‘er rip. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, but it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”
There were many times when I came a hairsbreadth away from quitting my job as a reporter out of desperation or frustration and just starting up my freelance career, but fortunately my survival instincts kicked in, or more likely I was talked out of it by someone who knew better, who knew that if I leapt at freelancing without properly preparing for the rigors of that business (as well as starting a new venture in the emotionally shell-shocked aftermath of quitting a job in desperation or anger) I’d likely drown. One friend, an environmental writer, pointed out to me that in nature, sudden transitions tend to be catastrophic—earthquakes, eruptions, flash floods, tsunamis.
But preparation can easily devolve into procrastination. With any significant transition, there’s no end to the rehearsals you can make, the questions you can ask yourself, the experts you can consult, the classes you can take, the wayward ducks you can continually attempt to line up. And it’s depressingly easy to get stuck in a kind of chronic vacillation, a neverending “maybe” that can steal decades from your life. At some point you just have to take a leap.
There’s nothing so powerful, they say, as an idea whose time has come, but how do you know when an idea’s time has come—or not arrived yet, or come and gone, or isn’t in the cards at all? It’s generally harder to find the perfect moment to act than the imperfect moment. It’s a guessing game, but you want your guess to proceed as much from logic as passion, and with a firm eye on the signs.
Here, then, are some suggestions for gauging when it’s time to make your necessary leaps of faith (or when you’re overdue for one):
Article Provided By: PsychologyToday