When I was 19 years old, I chose my passion for writing as my career path. At the time, I knew that it was a risky — some would say foolish — move. It is one thing to allow your passions to complement your chosen career path, but to choose something like writing as the degree I would leave with after four years of undergraduate education? Foolish came to mind for me, as well.
The truth is, from the moment I chose writing as my designated major, I questioned the decision relentlessly. I enjoyed my classes, but I could not shake the anxiety that I had chosen a path for myself that didn’t lead to a clearly defined job. As senior year closed, most of my friends had narrowed down what kind of positions they were looking for, who they wanted to work for, where they wanted to be.
I, on the other hand, hadn’t even decided what kind of writing I wanted to do. People would ask me: Where do you see yourself working? And aside from dreams of strutting down the streets of New York, I had nothing.
It was in the midst of this period of questioning and doubting when I asked myself the question that I felt determined it all: Why do I write?
Why was writing so important to me that it was worth the risk? Why did it matter so much? Why was I sacrificing stability and, at times, my sanity for it?
For a while, I did not have a good enough answer. “Because I love it” often came to mind — and though true, it didn’t seem sufficient. I also loved working with kids, but I did not see myself as an elementary teacher. Why writing?
I can’t remember the exact time or place where I came to the answer that finally gave me peace. All I know is that ever since that moment, I have returned to the words again and again to remind me why I keep pushing through.
Why do I write?
Because it is what I have to give.
If I have nothing else, I have the words that God puts on my heart to share. I have the ability to share them in a way that connects with others. I have the clarity to see that I can reach others through the language I use.
Most of all, I feel confident in the fact that this is what God has given me to share. It is how I can contribute to building the kingdom and give of myself to the world that has shaped me.
And so, I find dignity in the work I do.
The moment we realize that the gifts we have been given can be used to connect with others in an impactful way is the moment we find dignity in our work. When we give of ourselves, we participate in God’s creation. We are active members in God’s kingdom because as we give, we receive the fullness of what this life has to offer.
I try to remind myself of this in the moments when I am struggling with writer’s block and trying to meet a deadline or fruitlessly searching for jobs that appeal to my interests. It may not be easy and it may not always yield the results (or pay) that seem to meet worldly standards, but when I allow myself to be led by my passion, I open a part of myself to others.
The reality is we cannot always make a living off of what we love to do. But that doesn’t mean we cannot continue to pursue and grow in our passions. We are called to be active members of creation. And we cannot do that suffocating under the weight of a job that does not fulfill us.
So while I recognize that I cannot quit my two part-time jobs to write full-time, I know that in order to reach my full potential, I have to find time to write. I have to make time to soak in and grow through my passion, because it is what connects me to others.
Each of us possesses passions, whether we feel we are born with them stamped on our hearts or we fall into them based on influences in our environments. Whatever they are, it’s worth it to seek out why they matter, and keep seeking until we find an answer that satisfies.
And once you do find that answer, cling to it. Return to it again and again to remind yourself that what you have to share with this world is uniquely yours to give.