Vocation Guidance


#1

Hi,

I am trying to figure out what to do with my life. I am using the word vocation in a general sense, not necessarily religious vocation, but even lay vocations as well. I am 26 years old and am slowly working towards an Associates degree at a community college. I have Asperger's syndrome which is a form of autism, and I get overwhelmed easily, so many tasks that others might be able to do easily, I am daunted by. It is difficult figuring out anything I am good at. People have told me I would be a good teacher and that I write well, but I don't know if I could handle the pressure involved in these things. All I know is whatever I do, I am going to need a lot of support from the community around me, especially the Catholic faithful. It makes me think of the fact that I want to be supportive of everyone else, that there are others who need me, and I have need of the support of others in order to serve people. It is a beautiful dynamically changing situation. It's just so difficult in this culture to discern how I can make the best impact. Our culture is not really oriented to service to much, but rather to "looking out for number one". I don't even care what I am paid or anything. Even thinking about that sort of thing gets me overwhelmed. I just want to serve. I wish that God would just give me orders, or someone in the church would tell me what to do. I have a spiritual director at my parish whom I meet with to talk frequently, usually once a week. I feel like no one wants or needs my help. I want something good to do for people. I've gotten some suggestions for different things I could do for people, like food pantries, soup kitchens, helping people with groceries, visiting the sick, bringing Communion to homebound parishioners, etc. I'm looking for all the suggestions I can. I just feel like I am getting nowhere though. I get extremely anxious going into new and unfamiliar situations, and I wish I knew someone who could help me just introduce myself to doing service for people, even people I do not know. It's hard to do on my own, because it's like I freeze up, and become mentally paralyzed. I am not sure what I am asking. I guess I don't know any programs around me where I can be introduced into service.

Joshua


#2

May I suggest that in your case, considering how you respond to unfamiliar situations and the stresses associated with them, that you begin to get used to that sort of experience by means of 'baby steps'?

Rather than launch yourself directly into visiting the sick or training to become a teacher, start by, for example, being a 'greeter' at Church. The interaction between you and lots of strangers will necessarily be limited to a short period of time for each person. As you get comfortable and familiar with that sort of thing you can progress further to more prolonged contact with people.

If it's been suggested that you visit the sick and take Communion to them, start first by offering yourself as a Lay/Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Get used to that form of service over a while before offering to make yourself available as a visitor. Don't worry about that happening overnight - it took me three years before my priest handed on to me that duty!

There are other organisations at work within the Church, like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, who carry out other charitable work within the community. You may be in luck and have them present in your parish or nearby and, after a while, you could offer yourself to them. It need not suddenly be diving into the deep end with loads of strangers, it might simply be helping out now and then, fund raising activities - craft sales, that sort of thing - and progressing towards more responsibility later on.

In this case, the phrase "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability" never seemed more apposite.

From what you've written you sound like a very nice loving person with a shining desire to do good in the world despite some difficulties that to be overcome. For that I salute you. And, as I said, take small steps and it will all come right.

God bless you.


#3

Hi Joshua,
It sounds like you have two issues here: one is what to do to earn a living, and the other is what to do to fulfill your desire to serve.

It doesn’t happen very often that the two are fulfilled by the same thing. Usually, a person will have their job which hopefully they enjoy, but it typically is not what fulfills them in a spiritual way. So the person will also have other activities they do, such as what you listed, that they find fulfillment in.

You need to decide what you want to do for a living; something that hopefully you will enjoy and be good at, and will bring in enough money for you to live on. Your community college should have career counselors who can help you with this.

Then you need to decide what activity you want to do fulfill your desire to serve. You have a great list of ideas there…it’s just a matter of picking one and contacting the person in charge and telling them you want to help. Ask when and where they need you to be.

Good luck!


#4

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