One of the things that has been bothering me of late is not feeling a sense of purpose in my life. Even in the darkest days of graduate school, I could look at the work I was doing and know I was making a meaningful contribution to the world, and that kept me going.

I think it also helps to be in an environment of supportive individuals with a vested interest in your success, rather than feeling like a dispensable cog in a wheel who is easily replaced.

That aside, part of the trouble I have with my current job is that while it is customer service oriented, I struggle with wondering how much I am actually helping anyone. There is so much bureaucracy and red tape that sometimes I feel I am actually hindered in assisting the caller by the rules the company has set in place. The security protocols set in place to protect the shareholders more often than not seem to actually make things more difficult for them. There are a lot of rules that I agree don’t make any sense but which I still have to follow, and many people could be saved a lot of trouble if a few things that I repeatedly get calls about were better clarified on the back end.

But with all of that in mind, yesterday afternoon something strange happened – almost like a gift. A woman had called in  about her now deceased mother’s account, but she hadn’t realized that there was stock connected to the life insurance policy and therefore hadn’t meant to call us at all. Once I got through explaining the stock account and the legal transfer process, I provided the estimated value of the account and let her know there were uncashed dividend checks she could get reissued once the transfer was complete. Then she told me that until recently she’d been homeless and she was currently waiting for her unemployment and disability benefits to kick in, and that even knowing that there was this money out there she was entitled to have access to had made her day more than she could express. She thanked me and blessed me and told me to go home knowing I had helped someone that day.

And I still don’t know quite what to make of that because the calls I receive still often leave both me and the caller frustrated with the system.

But I couldn’t help feeling that I was being sent a message: all is not lost, you just need to hang on a little longer.

I’m still going to explore my options, but it is good to know that it is possible to legitimately help someone with the work I am doing, even if the odds aren’t as high as I’d prefer. I just hate having no power and being basically the messenger I have to remind people not to shoot.

Maybe helping one person is enough. I really don’t know. I just know that there are a lot of people in the world out there who need helping, and I feel there are more tangible ways to do it. I don’t mean to imply that the work I am doing isn’t valuable or to place jobs on some kind of hierarchy of usefulness. I don’t think that kind of thinking is helpful.

I just feel, and have felt, that I have a calling and the particular way I am meant to help people is through art. Whenever I am not doing that, I feel restless and depressed.

There just aren’t many opportunities here and the hours I am currently working don’t easily lend themselves to volunteering when a commute is involved.

Hopefully I can figure out something soon. But until then, maybe I can rest a little easier knowing I helped a poor woman be able to rest a little easier as well, knowing that there was a way her financial needs could be provided for.

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