For an English major, I have an embarrassingly sparse vocabulary. That being said, before I chose to title my final post introspection – I Googled the definition. The first thing I noticed in the list of synonyms was “soul-searching.” As ridiculous as it sounds, I think my entire connecting journey was really about soul-searching – about introspection. I was trying to find people I admired to connect with. Then I was trying to follow their direction. Leann Wolff’s direction connected me with her business partner, Mike Slette.
When I expressed interest to hear more about his thoughts on mission, values, and culture, he offered to meet me on campus. We sat down to talk, and I was shocked by the simplicity of his explanations. All of the jargon, all of the complex definitions were boiled down to two single words: why and how. Your mission is why your company exists and your values are how your company exists. Like Google, Mr. Slette’s synonyms clarified my confusion.
Months after our meeting, I was asked to speak on a Vocation Panel, and although I had been listening to and speaking to the idea of vocation all year, I didn’t feel qualified enough to sit on a panel. As the date approached, I even rechecked the definition of vocation. One of Googles synonyms, mission, reminded me of my conversation with Mike Slette. I realized his straightforward definitions could easily be applied to my own life, and I began to question why I existed and how I existed. In my existential panic, I thought about how much I had changed this year.
At the beginning of the year, the Career Center was testing a reverse job search using data analytics. Because I had just recently shifted my major from Undecided to Economics, I was chosen as a guinea pig. My skills were put into a program which generated jobs that aligned with them. When I got the results, the jobs all fell into one main category: Writing. Looking around at my coworkers, I felt like time slowed down and the room got smaller. I laughed it off and tried to convince them it was a misread from what I “used to want to do,” but I felt sick.
When I changed my major I experienced this feeling ten-fold, but my trip to Chicago helped me make peace with my decision. Annie Wood changed my perception of connection, Leann Wolff gave my connection direction, and Karen Stoker inspired me to act based on reflection. Role models like Kirsten Henagin and Kjerstin Engebretson, gave me something to aspire to at Concordia. Student Government helped me understand my skills and weaknesses; it helped give me a sense of purpose. Meanwhile, my coworkers in the Career Center began to feel like a second family. The full time staff gave me advise, encouragement, and hugs when needed. They took the time to edit my blog posts, and they asked me to sit on this vocation panel. When I sat down to talk about vocation, I realized I didn’t know what job I wanted, but I was beginning to understand who I was and who I wanted to become.
Vocation, to me, has become more about why I want to live (to positively impact society and to enrich the lives of family, friends, and future generations) and how I want to live (with integrity, innovation, and intentionality). My quest of connection started because I felt lost. Now, I still don’t have a set destination, but I have started to find direction and purpose. Connecting has increased my self-awareness, and I am beyond grateful for the people who have helped me with my soul searching.