When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher had us read “Waiting For Godot,” the play by Edward Albee.
If you are unfamiliar, the play involves two main characters who spend the entire play engaging in conversation while waiting for Godot to appear.
Spoiler alert - he doesn’t.
This was my introduction to the theatre of the absurd and I absolutely loved it. I loved that the play was open to interpretation, and my mind was spinning with ideas when we came together to discuss it. I was so taken with the play that my teacher moved me to a different class where other students found the play as interesting as I did.
Somewhere in that discussion Mrs. Hostetler asked us all what our individual “Godots” were. I remember my friend Erin sitting next to me saying that her Godot was to be accepted to college. She did that and more, working now as a doctor in the Pacific Northwest.
My Godot was a book.
I was waiting to write a book.
Little did I know, I was waiting for so much more than that.
There are vocations, and then there are jobs. I spent much of my time in high school and early college thinking about jobs. Then I took every single career test I could find. I looked around at all of my roommates and friends in college; they were education majors, physical therapy majors, occupational therapy, pre-med - they were all heading into helping professions, and most of them are still in those helping professions twenty years later.
But I was trying to reconcile several things: my love of writing, my innate desire to help people, and the ultimate goal that I needed to make money to live. Ideally, I should have been a teacher. But one semester at Erie’s Cathedral Prep, the all boys’ Catholic High School in the city, fixed that. But if you didn’t teach with an English degree, what did you do?
Well, I can only tell you what I did.
I followed my curiosity. And I’m privileged that I was able to do that. Because as much as I am proud of the fact that I finally found my vocational calling at 39 years old, I also need to be realistic about a few things. First of all, I never made much money in any of my jobs. So when I decided to become a personal trainer, I didn’t throw some high salary job to the side to do so. And second, I have a spouse with a stable job and benefits who has supported me through every existential crisis (and 14 jobs during our time together). I’ve had double-digit jobs, she’s had two.
I don’t discount that.
But this is what following my curiosity looks like: In retrospect, I was an awfully curious person, but was also indecisive, afraid of job commitment, and struggled with feelings of worthlessness that can come along with bouts of depression.
Depending on the circumstance, following your own curiosity can be really difficult.
As I come up on my three-year anniversary at Spurling, and reflect on how fortunate I am to be in a calling and not a job these past three years, I’m so glad to know that in my story, Godot finally showed up.
And I’m grateful.