She wanted to give up. Then, as a freshman in high school, someone convinced Patricia that an important first step is to “at least show up.” Now she dances.
I didn’t find my job. My job found me.
As a child, I was told I could do anything in this world. Except that when you grow up with an invisible disability like ADHD, that seems impossible. I had to work twice as hard to achieve the same result as the next person. Constantly I have to apologize for being myself. It’s exhausting. So exhausting that I’ve wanted to give up.
Freshmen year of high school, I was going through the motions of life without having expectations of doing something amazing with my life.
Just as I was ready to give up, one of the young adult leaders at my church taught me to “at least show up” to things. This woman whom I admire very much taught me something very simple yet challenging. To “at least show up” to something seemed silly at the time, but these are the words that have marked my journey even to this day.
“To at least show up to something seemed silly at the time, but these are the words that have marked my journey even to this day.”
The phrase “At least show up” challenged me to accept invitations to school activities, after-school programs, and church events that I was too shy to volunteer myself for. Here’s how that phrase shaped me:
- By just showing up, my confidence and leadership skills started growing.
- I would “at least show up” to things even if it was out of curiosity.
- If I had given my word to do something, I would still show up, even if I didn’t want to do it.
- When I didn’t quite understand the whole God thing, I “at least showed up” to church. And when I showed up, so did God.
Every time I showed up, a new opportunity came out of it. When I show up, other people get involved. By “at least showing up,” I have been able to do things because someone saw something in me worthy of a recommendation. Thanks to this, I’ve:
- held multiple jobs
- obtained scholarships for college and grad school
- funded mission trips
- participated in a movie set
- took study trips abroad
- danced for hundreds of people
I didn’t find my vocation, my vocation found me.
Vocation is an activity or occupation to which a person feels a special call. My vocation found me when I showed up and fully participated. I allowed those moments, and the people sharing those moments with me, to teach me how to be a better person. I learned and did things that I never thought I would.
One day, I showed up at a dance ministry audition at church. For the next ten years, this dance ministry was my learning ground. I have great memories and life lessons that come from my time in this group. Those close to me know that I see this dance group as the glue that God used to keep my life from falling apart, especially as I transitioned from high school into college.
Even when I was stubborn, my dance leader kindly took her time to encourage me to grow as an individual. Thanks to her love and patience, I was not alone on my spiritual journey. Thanks to my time in this group, I not only grew as a dancer, but I grew as a teacher and a leader. The switch from being a team member to a leader did not happen through an official announcement; it happened naturally as I developed that my teammates started to recognize the leader in me.
My teammates recognized this side of me and allowed me the space to figure out what being a leader in dance ministry meant. Their boldness to push me out of my comfort zone and their grace towards me when I made a mistake has allowed me to become a leader I am today.
When I look in the mirror, I see myself not through my own eyes but theirs. It is their God-given vision of my potential that has gotten me to a place where I can say, “I didn’t find my job; my job found me.”
“It is their God-given vision of my potential that has gotten me to a place where I can say, ‘I didn’t find my job; my job found me.'”
I love my job! I love having a space to push teenagers out of their comfort zones. I love to gracefully provide a space where they can come and admit their defeats but also celebrate their successes.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out life, or transitioning from high school into the “real world” consider this:
- Allow yourself space to “at least show up” to activities that will make you a better person.
- Pay attention to the small things that make you happy. Most likely the answer to your vocation search is found there.
- Allow yourself to go outside your comfort zone and be gracious with yourself if it doesn’t go according to plan.
- Allow those around you to teach you how to be the best you that you can be.
- Allow yourself to ask questions and never stop making mistakes.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
As you journey through life, don’t forget to stop now and then to find rest. You don’t have to achieve everything instantly, and you certainly don’t have to have it all together. Don’t be afraid to pursue life wholeheartedly, with love, and with kindness. Show up, and dive right in!
I hope your journey takes you places you never thought possible.
May God bless you and keep you always.
~ Patricia Cogles is 26 years old, is married, and lives in Pasadena, California. She was born in Miami, Florida, but was raised in Puerto Rico. Patricia is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. She also works at the United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks, CA, as the Director of Youth Ministry and Adult Education. She is worship and dance minister and member of the UMC California-Pacific Annual Conference, where she is the West District representative for Camp and Retreat Ministry Council and Co-directed Spanglish 2018 Camp. Her story was first published on ReThink Church on June 18, 2018.