I’ve never beaten the main story of an Elder Scrolls game. It’s not because I don’t enjoy them – I’ve logged nearly 40 hours into Skyrim and easily double that into Oblivion. It’s also not because I’m bad at them. I mean, I’m not great, but if difficulty was actually a problem I’d just take advantage of the nifty difficulty slider in the options menu. No, when it comes down to it there’s one main reason why I’ve never completed the storyline of an Elder Scrolls game.
Doing all the other stuff is way more fun.
When you dive into the world of Elder Scrolls, your character has a destiny. “You’re gonna solve the Oblivion crisis,” or “you’re the Dragonborn,” yada yada. But the world around you is packed to the gills with stuff. There are guilds to join, stuff to steal, monsters to kill, crimes to solve, a vast world full of people to meet and quests to complete with so many options that you can literally play for hundreds of hours and still not do everything. When I play Skyrim, I don’t care about being the Dragonborn – I care about exploring all those other awesome things.
Now I’m probably a gaming anomaly in that regard. But also an anomaly is the person who plays Elder Scrolls ONLY for the main story and not for any of that other stuff.
My alma mater has a motto. A saying. A tagline, if you will. And that motto is “find your calling.” Some who went to my college would joke that the real motto is “find your calling, find your mate.” But for today, we’re just gonna stick to the actual faculty-approved motto.
Find your calling. Find the one thing you are destined to do.
I love my alma mater. I met my wife there (maybe the second one is the real motto), I made incredible friends, and the classes I took truly molded me and changed my ways of thinking. But on this one thing, I’ve got to give my two cents.
Finding your calling can be really dangerous.
See, the whole idea of a calling, of being destined to do one particular thing, sounds great when you look at it from the perspective of someone who has found it. “I was called to be the CEO of a successful business and golly, is my life great! Everybody should find their calling!” But what if you’re not there yet? What if you’re working in a restaurant or a warehouse and that’s not the thing that you just know you are destined to do with your life?
Well at that point you start to feel cheated. You’re not accomplishing what you’re supposed to. What if you never find your calling? What if you live your whole life and there was this one really important thing you were supposed to accomplish but you never turned right on that one street or never talked to that one girl or applied for that one job? When we tell ourselves that we are destined for a particular thing, we become defeated and distressed when we don’t feel like we have it.
At various times in my life, I have felt called to be a worship leader, a writer, an actor, and a teacher. Currently, I am none of those things. I work in a warehouse, and I recruit students for my hometown’s Teen Court program. Neither of those were ever on my list of callings. In fact, this is my second time at the warehouse where I work. Each time I have worked there I approached it a different way.
The first time, I hated it. I felt cheated. Useless. Like my job didn’t matter. I was in a WAREHOUSE, for goodness’ sake. Not writing or teaching or acting or anything that’s artful and helpful and meaningful to the universe. I had an attitude that I had a specific calling, and even though at the time I couldn’t have told you what it was, I knew that working in a warehouse wasn’t it. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you I was depressed or something, because I wasn’t. I had a really fulfilling home life with my wife. But as far as my career, I felt stagnant. My potential untapped. My calling un-found.
The second time, I chose to approach my job a different way. First of all, at this point I was just grateful for a paycheck. But beyond that, I knew that this wasn’t the end of the world. I’d done it before and lived. I’d worked a job that I wasn’t called to do in some shining beacon of light and it didn’t ruin my entire life. And finally, I was honest with myself about the fact that when it comes to my calling, I don’t know what it is yet. And right now, I don’t care.
“Hey, are you ever gonna connect this back to Skyrim? Because I mainly clicked this for the Skyrim.”
I’m getting to that. Here’s the thing. If you focus so much on your “calling” that you’re ignoring what you could be learning or enjoying about what you have in your life right now, you’re making yourself sad when you don’t have to be. You’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and it’s going to make you miserable.
Was I called to work in a warehouse? Probably not. But I’m learning to bear gracefully a burden that isn’t fun or glamorous. Do I ever want to work full-time in the legal profession? No. But I’m helping kids in my community by teaching them about the law and enabling them to use it to help other kids. Where I am in my life right now – you know, not living out my calling – that’s okay. And that means that if you’re in the same place as me, not knowing what you’re called to do, or knowing but not being able to do it right now – that’s okay.
Because just like Skyrim, there’s more to do out in the world than just be the Dragonborn.
Life is full of fantastic opportunities. Half the time, you don’t even ask for them. They just show up. And you have the choice to either say “well, this isn’t my calling, so I’m gonna blow this off;” or to say “alright, I’m going to make the best of this.” Trust me when I say that the second one is better.
Slay some monsters. Join a guild. Do some sidequests. And have fun doing those things. Because whether or not you ever become the Dragonborn, you have to make the most of the life you have right now.
Chances are, most people reading this probably don’t feel like they are finding their calling. Fulfilling their destiny. Whatever. My point is that you should stop making that your focus. Because it’s so much easier to be grateful for what you have and to enjoy your life when you stop thinking of yourself as not fulfilling your true potential. Finding your calling is overrated because there is so much more to life than the one thing you’re “destined” to do.
If you’ve found your calling, great. Make the most of it, because you’re getting an opportunity some people never will.
If you’re still looking for your calling, you can choose to be sad because you haven’t found it yet, or happy because you’re enjoying all the stuff that’s happening in the meantime. Personally, I recommend you choose happy.
There’s a vast, open world out in front of you. Now go explore it.