Sunday, April 18, 2010

Floundering for a Sense of Calling

A member of my former congregation announced that she's going off to seminary next year. I'm excited for her. For all sorts of reasons, not the least that she gets to experience Chicago, which I still feel is "my city."

I'm also jealous.

(And not just because I miss Chicago.)

Because I miss that feeling of calling.

For most of my life I had that certainty that I was called to this profession. I started to act when I was in first grade, and I felt that the stage was the place I belonged. I kept that feeling throughout the crazy years of middle school and I tribute the Davis Discovery Center for keeping me relatively sane in high school.

I started writing in the Fort Hayes Black Box Theatre program. And it wasn't a change of calling, but a refining that calling. It was uncovering a deeper part of myself. I was a playwright. That calling took me to NYU and helped me find the Theatre School at DePaul University.

I never felt so purposeful as I have writing In Common Hours. Here I was writing a play that I had been wanting to write for four years or so...and it was realized in production. The whole experience was really rewarding. I was doing what I loved, and told a story from my heart that others connected to. People both laughed and cried at that show. I knew I had found my calling as a storyteller, specifically as a playwright, because I loved that process of storytelling with a bunch of others.

Then I graduated and I've been lost ever since.

I'm still in the profession. I have a job that supports me and my cat. I'm still writing in a professional context, and I'm even a regional representative for the Dramatists Guild.

I've had a few flashes of that sense of calling. The two weeks I spent at the Kennedy Center two years ago. The weekends of the playwright development program. The Naked Stage's Annual 24 Hour Theatre Project.

Most of the time though, I'm floundering, trying to rejoin that sense of purpose.

I've wondered if a calling can stop, and if I should devote my energies elsewhere.

I poured my energies into my job. I've accomplished at lot of good things, and I'm particularly proud about bringing Free Night of Theater to South Florida. But pride in my work did not fulfill me the way writing used to.

Then I threw myself into Unitarian Universalism at my former congregation. I thought if I just worked hard enough and with enough dedication, I could help call people to the higher purpose that I think Unitarian Universalism is here for. That whole experience exploded in my face, which is why my former congregation is my former congregation.

Which leaves me still here, wondering what my higher purpose is. On days when I'm stressed, I joke that I want to run away and work for Sesame Street. Or I remember Avenue Q and think no one really knows what their purpose is, really.

But I miss that certainty.

Maybe I can get it back if I manage to create a theatre of joy. Maybe I can get it back if I work more on my play about time traveling art thieves. Maybe I can try to get it back through prayer. Because I miss that connection. I miss that deeper sense of self.


  1. Hey Andie,
    What a wonderful surprise to wake up this morning and discover your blog. You know I am a big fan of yours, not just for your writing but for your open spirit and the gracius way you treat others. It is refreshing to read a blog that is a open and thoughtful as you are in real life. Good luck my dear I will be reading and enjoying your unique take on the world around us.
    Albert Acevedo

  2. Hi, Andie---

    I just found your blog via Google and I'm so glad I did---we don't know each other, but from one UU young adult to another, I think you're just fantastic.

    Would you mind if I linked to this post at my new(ish) young adult ministry blog? Every day I feature a blog post written by a Unitarian Universalist (usually, but not always, a young adult) and I'd love to be able to share this one.

    If it's all right with you---or if you have any questions about who the heck I am---you can drop me an email at

    Thanks so much and many blessings---


  3. Jen,

    Share away. And expect an email soon. I would love to connect with other YAUUs.


  4. Tough questions all. And Chicago misses you too!

    "Accomplished" is such an interesting word precisely because it carries implications of what you've made explicit here, that maybe the work it describes isn't what you're meant to be doing. You know I believe that only you can judge that, precisely by how fulfilled you feel by it, but it's not always easy to judge that either.

    I do think, though, that the moments where we feel lost and question everything are the ones where something new and great are sprouting. We just haven't seen enough of the plant to know what it is yet!

  5. Sounds like you are a kite, girlie, and maybe in need of grounding. I know the younger time of my life was so wide open I look back and remember feeling that sense of floundering for meaning and purpose, wanting to hold onto that silver thread of spirit. I dont know any answers per say, only that you are incredibly gifted, creative, talented and loving and that this too shall pass, yes? On a more practical level, could be you long for more structure, like maybe grad school? love you -pugger

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