An important distinction was crystallized for me on Monday that I’ve been waiting to share with you all. You know, because I only have one thought per week…
…I’m kidding. I probably have two or three.
Toward the end of my two-hour volunteer training seminar (this time on spiritual care), our guest speaker suggested the following:
Profession and vocation are not (necessarily) synonymous, though they are often perceived to be.
Your profession refers to what you do and how you make a living.
Vocation, on the other, refers to the way you do and how you lead your life.
Sometimes they can overlap, but not always. When they do, there’s an undeniable sympatico. “This isn’t just a job for me; it’s a vocation.” (I actually borrowed this quote from the Merriam-Webster dictionary; no, I’m not joking.)
The ever-useful Dictionary.com defines vocation as “a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.”
With that in mind, I now understand that writing is my vocation – my way of life. Although I do enjoy my day job, it is more of a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself. (If any of my supervisors are reading this, please forgive my honesty.) That being said, I do have the opportunity to do my fair share of technical writing in my day-to-day workload, so I suppose I’m fortunate in that my vocation sometimes sneaks its way into my profession.
Vocation is true passion. Vocation is enthusiasm. Vocation is what gets you out of bed on a cold, snowy day. (Or, if you’re a writer, what encourages you to get out of bed, grab your laptop, and get right back under the covers while you work.)
So the next time someone asks you what you do, take a moment to stop and think before you answer.