Who Are You Supposed to Be?

In “The Great Work of Your Life” – a book about dharma, author Stephen Cope notes that Walt Whitman was 47 years old when he found the “true calling” he had been preparing for all his life. When I first read that, a spark of hope went through me. Until that moment, I’d thought I was long past the age when such a thing could happen. And here’s the real surprise. Whitman’s calling was not writing; it was nursing!

It Can Take a Lifetime to Find Your Dharma

When I read Cope’s book a few years ago, I wondered if all the wandering I’ve done from “calling” to “calling” was leading me to something specific I could call my dharma. I hoped so, because the disjointed confusing road was a challenge to travel.

Don’t Do What You’re Not Supposed to Do

I’m not sure I know what I’m supposed to do. I do know what I’m not supposed to do. I usually figure that out shortly after I start doing a something, like studying to be a dietitian instead of a holistic nutritionist or taking a job as a financial aid representative when I really want to be a student counselor. But I continue to hope all of those starts and detours have a purpose.

I do sometimes think a good way to figure out what you’re supposed to do is to figure out what you’re not supposed to do.

Learning to Be Who We Are

I’m not a physicist (and have never even considered the possibility I should be, though it would be fascinating). I’m no longer a financial aid representative, and I now know I’m not meant to be a clinical dietitian. What I am supposed to be is a writer.

Writing has been part of my life (and my dharma) for a long time. All the things I’ve done or attempted to do have shaped the kind of writer and editor I am now. In college, I wrote fiction. Just after that, I did a lot of journal writing. In an odd, Zen-like way, I destroyed my journals in the early 2000’s to detach from the stories they told. I wrote journal entries as if I was writing fiction. More recently my writing ranges from technical to creative nonfiction.

Now most of my writing is more practical. Some is even technical. It’s almost all nonfiction.

No doubt there’s a reason it took me almost 20 years to return to writing as a career. I’ve written a lot about psychology and nutrition (and, of course yoga) in the last ten years. And while there may not be a formal title for what I am, I’m pretty sure it is what I’m supposed to do.

What are you supposed to be?

Do you know what you’re supposed to be? Have you found your dharma, and if you have, does it have a name? If you’re still not sure despite years of searching, don’t despair. It takes a seed many years to become a mighty tree.

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