Thursday, January 07, 2010

Vocations and Avocations

The Anchoress is talking about Vocations over at her blog. She has a poll up with some interesting questions.

One of her questions is whether, as parents, we have talked with our kids about the religious life. Hubs is not Catholic; the idea that his children would have to become celibate and unmarried is foreign to him. He just doesn't get it.

In fact, the whole idea that you can go to college (or university) and study what you're passionate about is a difficult one for him to grasp. The son of friends of ours is studying music. "How is he going to make a living?" Hubs wonders. "A musician's life is horrible." By that he means unpredictable: on the road, finding gigs, playing all hours of day and night, no certain paycheck.

And Hubs loves music. He has a wonderful voice and played alto saxophone in junior high, was in chorale and musicals in high school, was in a barbershop quartet for many years. Still, he can't see music as a career. Or art.

But he is also not an studying sort. He's taken some courses through community college, but that's about it.

My take is different. "He's following his passion. It will all work out," I say. My life didn't exactly turn out the way I planned, but overall I'm pretty happy. In fact, I have met very few people in my line of work who actually planned to be in shipping as a career. Most of us "fell into it," and stayed there either because we enjoyed it or through inertia. Although I might not be "using" my degree in biological sciences to do research work or in the health field (my original plan), I am using the skills I developed while getting that degree.

My dad wished I had majored in English so I would "be a writer." When he first told me this, I was surprised: I didn't realize he valued--or even recognized--those particular talents of mine. But after taking a couple of college courses, I was glad I didn't. Deconstruction is not my thing and studying biology (and chemistry and physics and math) actually gave me important problem solving skills. Would I have majored in English had I known my dad thought I was talented? I don't think so. But I might have been more willing to change my major when I discovered that I really enjoyed my History of Science classes (and did really well in them).

When discussing the classes she's planning to take as a senior in high school, DD#2 lamented, "There are too many things I'm interested in!" I sympathized with her. Biology or physiology or geology; sports medicine or dance; art or crafts. And then there's classes like photography or psychology or drama. How do you choose, especially when you are 16 or 17?

I'm rather glad that most religious orders require that candidates have some college, if not a degree. Experience some of what the secular world has to offer; know what you're giving up. I think the Church will be better for it.

Julie D. over at Happy Catholic also has some thoughts about this matter as well.