Warning: This post contains mentions of abuse, sexual harassment, drug addiction and alcohol addiction.
When you find your calling, it truly transforms your whole life.
Doing the work you're most suited for brings out the best in you, and it often helps other people as well.
There are many ways the universe can reveal to you what your purpose in life is, and this could be paid work or just a fun hobby you do outside your job.
1. "I’ve had a love of the sky and everything in it since I was a kid. I’ve always been keen on problem-solving and analysis, and I have a passion for anything with a power behind it. When other kids wanted to be doctors or princesses, I wanted to be a storm chaser. It was when I took an entry-level job as an automotive technician that I found a love of turning wrenches, and the inspiration struck to marry those passions."
2. "I’m an environmental scientist specializing in water resources. I knew it was my calling when I was in a developing country watching people collect water from a spring that was literally in a ditch beside a road. Water is life!"
3. "It didn't feel like work. I plan on starting a career in teaching soon, and I've been getting some experience from my university. I have been doing everything I would be doing as a fully qualified teacher, but I don't feel like I'm working; it feels fun and fulfilling. It's the first job I have done where not all I look forward to is going home or getting paid. It just truly makes me happy."—canunotmywaywardson
4. "I was originally planning on being a journalist after graduating from college even though my mom and my brother were convinced for a long time (since I was little) that I was going to become a teacher. I had been a camp counselor for four years in high school/before college and always excelled with little kids. Well, after college I started spending more time around kids (babysitting my niece and nephew a lot and my cousin's kids) and decided that while I liked journalism, I liked being with kids a lot more. And everyone was convinced I'd make a great teacher. I've been teaching for almost five years now, and I love working with kids every single day."
5. "Not work-related, but I knew my calling when I took a woman through the 12 steps of AA. I listened to her fifth step (her revealing all the resentments and secrets she had ever had) and just nodded my head and listened. Things that she thought were terrible were things that I had done/experienced in my using as well. Having another woman trust me like that was incredible because I thought I could never change while I was in the middle of my drinking and drug use."
6. "I wandered a lot when I was younger. I partied and had fun. Really, I was kind of aimless. Anyway, right after I graduated from high school I found out I was pregnant. I was scared and considered all my options. Ultimately, I kept my daughter, gave up school, and took the first job I could find. My daughter was born the day I turned 19, and from the moment I saw her, I knew the only thing I'd ever been meant to be was a mom. Since then, I have had four more little ones. I'm a stay-at-home mom now, I homeschool, and I have never been happier nor have my kids."
7. "CW – drugs, overdose mentions. I’ve always had a strong urge to listen to others talk about whatever might be on their minds and help them with problems when they ask. Needless to say, that’s still a pretty broad stroke, but becoming a sort of pseudo-therapist for my classmates during lockdown narrowed down my focus a bit. I’ve also always had a fascination with medicine and science in general, and psychology fascinates me too. My experiences in the last year put the question of a career in substance abuse counseling into my mind, but that wasn’t cemented until February of this year."
"I discovered my purpose through an event no one should have to go through – the death of a loved one – in this case, my cousin, Christy, who overdosed on heroin in mid-February. I spent the week afterward skiing alone as a way of dealing with my grief. Since I mostly ski alone, it gave me a great deal of time to think, and at some point, I felt I’d found a purpose in counseling or psychiatry."
8. "I moved out at 18 and spent years broke, working low-wage jobs, and going to community college at night. It is brutal how powerless you are when you don't have money. As bad as it bothered me to be sexually harassed at a job I couldn't leave, to rent from a slum lord that didn't fix anything, to be in a relationship with a violent guy who I depended on economically, and to experience the constant stress of always being one car breakdown or medical bill away from financial ruin, it bothered me more to see it happen to my neighbors, coworkers, and friends and not be able to help."
9. "Working with children that have special needs has never once felt like a job to me, and I always leave my work day feeling incredibly grateful that I get the chance to be a part of these kids’ lives. Watching their growth and the smallest of successes is more rewarding than anything. I am so happy in my work, and the amount of times I’ve been told that I have the perfect personality for this type of job just reinforces what I’ve always known — this is what I’m meant to do!"
10. "Find the thing that you would do if you didn't need the money. Ever since I was 14 years old, I was always fascinated by computers, taught myself coding, etc. It wasn't until I was in college that I discovered I really could do it for a living — I'd keep doing that even if I didn't need the money. All that being said, I think there's a lot more gravity around the word 'calling.' Firefighters, EMTs, etc. have 'callings' — I have a fortunately profitable hobby." –JMLiber via Reddit
11. "I've done a lot of different things in my life, and I've enjoyed all of them to a greater or lesser extent. I worked in a department store, was a veterinary technician, a machinist, a flight instructor, a naval officer, an electrician, an engineer, and now I'm an engineering manager. I really like what I do now. It's also probably not what I'll be doing in five years. It'll start feeling like work, and I'll move on to something else. Starting over is fun for me. Learning new things is fun for me. I may settle down and work a job for 20 years at some point, but not yet."
12. "I thought I was going to be a minister — have a job where I help people, where I listen a lot, where I offer any kind of empathy or kindness I can, and where I help build the kind of communities that can really help people. I kind of bombed out of that for a bunch of reasons. I also dreamt of writing, so I got a job at a magazine doing data entry and very basic layout stuff, which I did for six years. It was a good job. It often didn't feel like work because the people I worked with were amazing. All the while, I was writing a novel."
13. "I work in a grocery store stocking shelves. I'm full-time, healthcare, 401K, and PTO. It's not a luxurious job, but I don't hate it. Yeah, there's bureaucracy and other bullshit, but I figure that I can put up with it. Between the union and the nature of grocery stores, my job is pretty recession-proof. But I don't define myself by my job. I put in my 40 hours and go home. No one can make me answer questions or work off hours. In my time off, I like to cross-stitch, play video games, and watch Star Trek. At this point in my life (I'm 27), this is fulfilling."
14. "...Finding something that is valuable to your community/society is also important. I worked in TV for a while and I liked the work, but ultimately I was making someone else money off of my creativity. Now I am a teacher and I get to be creative for my students, and that is more worthwhile for me."
15. "I think a calling isn't something you find but something you make. There's some active work there. Life satisfaction just happens once you've found the right job. I'm 32, an artist, and also I take care of our 3-year-old most days. I have always wanted to be an artist. The kids in my class voted me 'most likely to be a famous artist.' This past year I actually made more money making art than I did when I had other employment. So on many levels, I've 'arrived,' but I can tell you that it doesn't mean life satisfaction has also arrived."
Note: Some answers have been lightly edited for length and/or clarity.