when i grow up: from singular to plural

A few weeks ago, I received a humbling, heart-warming and also totally surprising email. It was from a friend in her last semester of college, and she asked to interview me for class. About my blog, career and life.

What? Humbled of course, but really? You’re kidding, right?  Thrilled and excited, of course, but This hodge-podge of things I do is interview-worthy?

And so we met yesterday afternoon over coffee. She asked thought-provoking questions, and like soup from a ladle I poured and poured. I found myself waxing poetic about this willy-nilly-silly-old career of mine and how I got here. In summary? This career of mine is a bunch of pieces and I try each day to put them all together like a jigsaw puzzle. (Only with grace do the pieces fit together.)

The timing of the interview could not have been better; I’d been thinking about careers and professions all weekend. I chatted with a dear friend on Saturday about deciding on majors, jobs and answering the big when-I-grow-up questions. We sat across from each other on a couch and I told her it’s okay and even good to not have all the answers. I said I’d give her until 35 (that’s 15-ish years for her). If she still hasn’t decided then, I said, I’d make her a grilled cheese sandwich and we could chat over lunch about maybe picking a few favorites and sticking with those.

Here’s the truth though: at 35 or 135, we don’t need to have our purpose figured out. Maybe we shouldn’t chase after our purpose, but our purposes instead.

We invest much time, energy, anxiety and effort into finding our life’s plan, our life’s passion, our life’s goal, our life’s mission. All fantastic. All important. All worth the time and energy we invest. But we can brainstorm and brainstorm and brainstorm some more, until we’ve thundered-and-lightning-ed ourselves to death and we still may not be able to figure it out. Exhausting, yes?

As we wrestle with what we’re going to with our lives, we often forget to make the answers plural.

Singular to plural and the choice no longer haunts. Singular to plural and the decision no longer cripples. Singular to plural and the anxiety doesn’t disappear, but it does gradually fade. We take a deep breath and another and, with grace, another.

We don’t all need to be jacks-of-all-trades. Focus can be beautiful. But in real life, seasons change. In real life, what we will do changes with them. What we’re going to do with our life is an important question to ask. And, in answering it, we owe ourselves the freedom that comes with multiples. We owe ourselves the freedom that comes with grace.

How have you seen multiple missions, purposes, jobs, dreams and goals manifest themselves in your life?

Excited to link up again this week with #commit2write.

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6 thoughts on “when i grow up: from singular to plural

  1. My students will be reading this post, Sarah. Such wisdom! I’ve learned that God has many plans for us, and every season of our lives can bring something new. Our only focus needs to be on Him, and the rest will come. ❤

    • Katie, so glad that this can be helpful to your students! I wish someone had told me 10 years ago (or 10 months ago, as the case may be) that decisions don’t have to be final and that what we do can change.

      On a related note, I’d love to hear what your students have to say about this! Do they feel pressure from society to just pick one career path and stick with it, or do they feel freedom to choose the profession that is best for them in that moment?

  2. I wished I had known all this when I was finishing college and entering the “real world”. It would have saved me many anxious days about my future.

    Praying that your friend takes your wise words to heart and will allow God to lead her where He would have her to go.

    • Rebecca, absolutely! Don’t you wish the you-of-today could go back and share words of wisdom with the you-of-yesterday?

  3. I tell my students this all the time, because they like to ask me, “Miss, will you be here next year?” And I always say, “I think so, but maybe not.” That kind of an answer requires elaboration, so I always explain to them that I’m a lot more than a teacher.

    At the end of the year, I sit down with my eighth graders and we go through a routine. I let them read some of my blogs (printed out and age-appropriate, of course), I show them my photos, and we talk about all the non-English lit stuff we do in class. It slowly dawns on them why I chose teaching – because I can bring everything I’ve got to the table at this job. And where else can you do that as easily?

    I think that the fluid nature of purpose makes life exciting, though no one quite pulls it off like you, I have to say. 🙂

    • Miss Wonderful, thank you so much for this. I think there’s such wisdom in letting your students see other facets of you and your career path. Growing up, I assumed that my teachers were teachers only and teachers always. How beautiful it would have been to learn that they had multiple passions and multiple goals!

      It’s funny . . . now that my mom works with some of my former teachers, I love to hear her stories about them. It’s like they’ve become people only now. And yet they were people all along . . .

      PS – Calling you soon. xoxo.

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