How to Identify a Life’s Calling

Gillian Sisley

This process worked for me — maybe it will work for you, too.
Photo by Batel Studio on Unsplash

I’m aware that the title of this article is bold — but I still stand by it.

And I have a lot of reasons to feel that way.

If you’ve ever wondered if there’s some sort of active way you can discover a fulfilling and meaningful life’s path for yourself, here is one option you can try and see if it offers some form of enlightenment.

So, how can you identify your Life’s Calling?

I have an answer and/or option for you — but I can’t guarantee you’re going to like it…

Identify the biggest suffering you’ve experienced.

Lucky for you, you don’t have to read too far to find my answer to the above question of this article — because here it is, in all its glory.

Yes, this activity is an uncomfortable thing to do, but it’s the first step in the overall process. You likely don’t need to think too hard to identify your biggest suffering — it’s the thing that has caused the most pain and impact in your life, and changed the trajectory of everything for you ever since it happened.

Now that you’ve identified your most notable suffering:

Take that suffering, and turn it into a purpose for the greater good.

If this sounds like a difficult and wildly uncomfortable task, that’s because it is. Finding a life’s calling is not an easy journey — if it were, everyone would be able to find it and I wouldn’t be writing this article.

And no, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. Yes, the statement makes it seem straightforward, but identifying that suffering is the easiest part of the process.

Because in order to take that suffering and turn it into purpose, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to have to face it head-on. And for most of us, our biggest suffering in life is not something that we’ve fully healed from, nor is it pleasant to face.

But part of turning our suffering into our greatest calling requires actively and intentionally walking through the remnants of that suffering head-on.

For those of us whose suffering has resulted in palpable and/or diagnosable trauma, walking into that suffering is like walking into a brutal storm. Having diagnosed PTSD myself as a result of a sexual assault in 2013, I know exactly how brutal the chaos of that storm known as trauma can be — and I also know it will follow me for the rest of my life.

It’s a tormenting process, yet necessary for healing and then being able to turn that suffering around and make something purposeful out of it.

Of course, we never would have wanted our suffering to happen — but it did.

With that reality, the best way to get closure from our suffering is to take it and with its remnants turn the torment into something better — into something for the greater good.

Identify those same suffering people, and meet them so that they’re no longer struggling alone.

Loneliness makes us feel insignificant. There’s is nothing more isolating or lonely than feeling like you’re the only one struggling with what you’re going through.

That is the exact premise from which the Fearless She Wrote community was born. Our editorial team were three survivors of sexual assault grappling with our own trauma recovery journey, and were writing in order to heal. It didn’t take long for fellow survivors to flock to the publication, for both writing and reading purposes. We are now a community 18,000+ strong, with over 500+ writers, comprised mostly of survivors.

I am so grateful for the Fearless community. I am so grateful that writing actively about my trauma and sexual assault has directly helped other survivors in their healing journey. With that said, I will still say this:

I have not once been thankful for my sexual assault. I have not once been grateful that it happened.

The Fearless community and the work that I do there is not taking place thanks to the sexual assault epidemic — it is taking place despite it.

In a perfect world, there would be no sexual assault. There would be no violation of other human beings, of any form. Please, make the Fearless community an unnecessary place for our world to require. I truly want nothing more than to have zero need for this community of survivors still requiring healing together.

But we do not live in a perfect world. This is a reality I live with. There are many like me.

I went through this journey alone for 5 years following my assault, and that solitude deeply damaged me. As I have a heart for other survivors, and see my former self in them, I don’t want to see them suffering alone as I did.

That was when I realized I had a calling to advocate for and support the sexual assault community through meeting them where they’re at and uplifting our stories together. I deeply believe that it is through sharing these stories that we can change our culture from the inside out.

This piece is not meant to glorify suffering, but instead, encourage you to reclaim your power.

Any one of us who has been through difficult times has likely experienced their suffering highjacking and sabotaging our lives in certain ways.

To suffer is miserable, and it feels similar to drowning.

But in the aftermath, while we didn’t get to choose whether or not we suffered, we do get to choose how we will pursue our healing, and what exactly we’re going to do with that healing once we’ve found some semblance of it.

You have no obligation to share your healing journey or recovery with anyone. Suffering and trauma are deeply personal, and for many, that is something they do not want to share.

Understandably enough — it’s not pretty or glamorous in any way.

At the same time, whether or not you believe in the philosophy, “Everything happens for a reason”, most of us can agree that despite what we’ve been through, we want to find happiness again.

We want to heal past the suffering we’ve experienced, and regain the joy of life we used to know.

Taking that a step further, some of us even hope that we can take our suffering and reclaim it in a way that turns the bad into something more purposeful.

Final word.

If you are someone looking for something you could identify as a Life’s Calling, identifying your biggest suffering, past or present, is a good place to start. What we don’t realize is that our history of suffering gives us great power — it offers us a unique perspective into the suffering of others who are experiencing what we once have, or currently are, grappling with.

Unless someone has experienced a particular suffering first-hand (whether through themselves, or someone they deeply cared about), they cannot fully understand what others who are similarly suffering are going through.

That perspective deepens our empathy and understanding of others — which for many, is the biggest thing they are looking for from another person.

As mentioned above, feeling isolated or alone in one’s own suffering makes the journey so much harder. Just to know that someone else has gone through or understands what you’re going through… that makes a world of difference in a person’s life.

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Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about womanhood, social justice, writing & entrepreneurship.


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