Monday, October 09, 2006

Where have all the vocations gone?

What is your occupation?
What do you do for a living?
What is your job?
Do you have a career?

Do you know what a vocation is?

When I was growing up, people talked about certain occupations as being more than jobs, they were vocations. That is to say that the people did them felt a calling to that job which went beyond wages, beyond glamour, beyond any other entrapment or lure of modern employment. It was simply something that they were compelled to do.

The roles in society filled by these people with the calling were the priesthood, being a doctor, being a surgeon, nursing, teaching and careers in that permanent pensionable respectable vein. I never felt like I had a vocation, I was much too scatty for that. My educational and employment history lurch from one pivot to another (as much as one can lurch from a pivot)

I left school at 16
I worked waitressing and bar-tending
I went back at 18 and completed 2 years of school in one year despite being dyslexic. I wanted to work really hard more than I wanted to go back to wearing a uniform in state school and I could only afford one year of private sixth form college so it was complete my studies on one year or not at all. I also worked in a bar part-time to pay rent.
I took a year off and worked full-time as a receptionist in a hairdressers and a waitress to replenish my savings
I didn't know what to do in college so I did a year long diploma in media studies. I had my first term dalliance with computers. I also worked as a 'copy operator' in a photocopying shop. That was some job.
I decided to do degree in classical studies. It was a three year degree and I really got into Homer and all his creations in sixth form college so I thought "why not"
I also did a part-time evening diploma in gender studies at the same time and worked part-time as a chamber maid, door(wo)man and barmaid.
After college, I was at a bit of a loss so I did a diploma in computer studies and worked on the helpdesk in a call-centre in the evenings...
The computer studies lead to my first job in 'puter with Compaq and now I am at the giddy heights I have reached today. (ahem....)

But you know something, I still don't know what I want to do. I still find myself thinking over this notion of a vocation and wondering if I have missed the cues for mine.

Then I read of teachers seducing their young pupils, doctors murdering their patients and helping themselves to their valuables and the unspeakable acts of abuse committed by some members of the clergy against those in their care.

I have to wonder did those people feel a call to their profession at one time? Is what they did the symptom of what happens when people take up a job without it being a vocation for them?

What does/did the notion of vocation actually mean and is it still a relevant concept nowadays?

I don't know. There are just times when I cannot shake the notion that I am supposed to do more. I just don't know what.

E.
(Who is having one of those horrible introspective nights - I shall try to shake this off and get back to being frivolous as soon as I can)

1 comment:

Beth said...

Hi Eliza,
Yes I think I found my vocation - I'm a teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher. My Dad is a teacher and my Mum works with kids too so I suppose I was always around that sort of thing. I have always loved Drama and literature since a young age and wanted to "inspire" others to love it too. I chose my exam options at 14 to suit a career in teaching and my main aim was to lead a faculty - which I did by 24.

The problem I'm now having is that I'm already there at the age of 26 and don't want to be any "higher" up. I have no desire to be a headteacher or deputy so now I'm sort of stuck (possibly for the next 40 years??). Somehow I have similar feelings to you - maybe there is something more out there for me. I can't imagine doig anything else, but on the other hand I can't imagine being content to do this for the rest of my life. I think I'd like to help train other teachers at some point...who knows.