What? Did I say vocation? Please, no, I have two already. God, or whoever’s in charge up there, please do not land me with another. I meant to say I need a vacation.
I felt my first stirrings of a vocation shortly after arriving at London University in 1984 to supposedly read History. I say supposedly because I spent nearly all of those three years in bed – sobering up or getting down. I spent a grand total of 20 hours in the department in my first year, and not much better in years two and three. Following my finals, several of the History professors at the farewell Cheese and Wine party asked me who I was with; they thought I was gate-crashing because they’d never seen me before.
Suffice to say I did not feel any vocational love for History, nor anything that might naturally follow on from a History degree, such as a proper job.
No. My insanely unreasonable conclusion, based on just two outings in amateur dramatic productions, was that I should become a professional actor. I auditioned for drama school in my second year, got a place at RADA, and went straight there after graduating from University.
After three years at RADA, and then a year in professional theatre, I was struck down by my second vocation: writing. I’m not sure this would have happened if I’d made good on my wholly naïve plans to storm Hollywood, but happen it did.
Now, 21 years later, I need a vacation. From my vocations. They have worn me out. Rather, I have worn myself out thinking about them.
I spent many of my early years believing anyone who didn’t obviously have a vocation or two was pathetic. Ironically, I was carrying out the very same low-paid, menial work as these people I was deriding. But the irony was lost on me back then.
Didn’t these sad fools know there was more to life? Didn’t they know you can trudge through every day feeling inadequate because you’re not achieving what you want? Didn’t they know you can avoid living life on an even keel and instead set sail into a maelstrom that makes you want to throw up with disappointment every day?
I can’t tell if they were blissfully ignorant or if they had a secret vocational calling like I did. But I do think they were maybe the lucky ones. Blissfully ignorant is right. Having a vocation in life is great – so long as it’s realisable. The Arts are notorious for dishing up undersize helpings. A vocation you cannot satisfy is a curse. That may mean anything from never getting started on it to narrowly failing to attain the lofty heights you envisioned.
Perhaps you have the writing “bug”, but something is preventing you from fully committing. Take heart; there’s a good reason it’s called a “bug”. Think of the connotations: you’ve either got a debilitating illness or you’re being attacked by small crawling things.
Either of those appeal to you?