Just What On Earth Do You DO?

Being multifaceted has some drawbacks. People speak about having exactly one lifelong passion (and jobs sometimes demand this from employees), which doesn’t sit well with me. It’s like the concept of a soul mate, that mythical person that’s perfectly matched to your strengths and weaknesses.

That is to say, it’s equally bollocks.

So what is it that I do?

Are you a web developer? Yes, that’s my day job. But I pursue part-time work as a freelance writer.

So, you’re a writer? Where’s your “You Should Be Writing” poster? I don’t believe in that. Writing isn’t my top priority, and my work suffers when I burn out. (Incidentally, I’m taking a break from some of my writing projects.)

Oh, so you’re just a dilettante. No, I’ve committed to several of my passions. I’ve been writing since childhood, and programming just as long. I’ve also had a lifelong interest in religion, especially early Christianity–

So you’re one of those people. Uh, no, I’m a Unitarian Universalist. No bible-thumping here. But I have been in discernment regarding my place in the church…

Discernment? As in ministry? Yes.

But you make good great money as a programmer! Why would you want to pursue ministry? I feel called to it, that’s why. I’m just getting involved in lay ministry right now: volunteering at events, leading worship, etc. It’s like a trial period, seeing where my strengths and weaknesses are.

Hold up. Didn’t you want to teach in Japan that one time? And you said you were going to grad school to be a better programmer. Yes. I tried to marry my interest in Japan with a desire for service, but it wasn’t right for me. As for grad school, let’s just say I’m a lot healthier at a lower-stress job than chained to a desk at EA Games, which is where I would have ended up. I’d rather play video games than code them.

So how do I know you’re serious about this whole ministry thing? That’s why I’m easing into it and not applying to seminary for a couple years. At any point I can say “nope, this isn’t working out” without 1) disappointing a lot of people, 2) uprooting my life completely, or 3) taking on student debt before knowing for certain. The lessons of 2014-15 are sticking with me.

So which is it? Are you a programmer, writer, or one of those ‘church people?’ Yes.

Looking back at my posts from the past few years, yes, it’s easy to say that I’m just a dilettante with high-functioning anxiety. But here’s a better term, which I got labelled with in high school: Renaissance person. I don’t have to make careers out of all of my passions, and in some cases (such as writing) I’m better off pursuing them solely for fun. Nor do I need to wed two passions together in an attempt to Frankenstein a career out of it, as my failed pursuit of teaching in Japan suggests. Right now I build web applications to pay the bills, write when inspired, and volunteer at church often. In ten years I might be working at church, coding when I feel the itch, and writing for some extra money.

Here’s a great TEDx talk by Emilie Wapnick on people without a single calling, which inspired this post.