How To Find Your Inner Calling And Follow Your Intuition In Your Career
'The answers lie in all the things you love.'
Welcome to the Collective World Careers Newsletter. Collective World is a one-of-a-kind creative network powered by the minds and voices behind The Thought & Expression Company. We’re so glad you’re here.
Today we’re talking to poet Déjà Rae about how she learned to trust her intuition and her advice for those who feel lost in their creative careers.
1. First, can you give us a quick summary of your creative career? Where did you start and where did you go from there?
I’ve had a deep passion for writing since I first learned how to write. But for a majority of my life, I saved my writing for myself. The thought of sharing my words with others felt way too vulnerable. I was definitely scared of judgment, but even more than that, I was scared for people to really see me. I think art is the most authentic expression of who we really are. There are no facades; art can tell no lies. And at that point, most of my writing centered around my own personal dramas and traumas. So, the idea of sharing my writing felt like I was allowing strangers into my most vulnerable and exposed spaces.
In March of 2020 I lost my job waiting tables due to the pandemic. At the time I was going through a really transformative awakening and was spending a lot of my time journaling. After an insightful journaling session, I randomly decided to share a piece of my writing with one of my best friends. She was so genuinely impacted by my words and immediately encouraged me to begin sharing my work with others, as she felt many people would benefit from it. I had never really thought about it that way. Writing was always an escape for me, but I had never considered that it could be an escape for others as well. But with so much free time on my hands, I decided to start an Instagram page and share some pieces of my writing with family and friends. After a couple days, I noticed that random people were beginning to follow me and engage with my work. I remember feeling really shocked (and flattered) that strangers were enjoying my words. About a year later, I had collected so many individual pieces of my writing, I thought, “Why not just put it into a book?” So, I did that. And shortly after releasing my first book, I began working on my next one. And that momentum has continued since.
I feel really lucky that my creative career has blossomed so naturally. When I began sharing my writing, my intention was never to make a career out of it. I was just enjoying myself and allowing my creativity to bloom. And I think the absence of pressure is what ended up contributing to my development. It’s a lot easier to create from a place of flow than to create from a place of force. So even now, I do my best to take the pressure off of myself and only create when it feels natural and authentic.
2. Authenticity is a big theme throughout your body of work. Why do you think it is important to stay true to yourself, especially within your career? And why do you think it is so hard for people to do this in the first place?
I believe every individual has the power to bring their authentic desires into their reality. I believe the skills we possess and the desires we have are all there for a divine reason. They guide us towards what is destined for us. That is why authenticity is so crucial to our fulfillment, particularly in our career. Because if we are pursuing the things that are in alignment with who we truly are, fulfillment is guaranteed, regardless of the money we make or the recognition we receive.
I think it’s hard for people to do this for many reasons. I think one of the biggest reasons revolves around financial restrictions or cultural expectations – which is valid. We all come from different backgrounds and have different resources, so pursuing what you love can be more difficult for some people. However, I don’t think that means it’s not possible or shouldn’t be pursued. I think every person should take their time figuring out what works best for them. Sometimes “staying true to yourself” means walking through the fire and expanding into someone new, and other times it means walking away and leaping into something else.
What’s most important is that we continually check in with ourselves and reevaluate what is and isn’t working for us, in both our professional and personal lives.
3. You’ve written about how it’s important to trust your intuition when it comes to your career. What does that mean to you? How would you suggest others implement that into their everyday life?
When we are in sync with our highest selves (in tune with our intuition) we become aware of what we are truly capable of. I think deep down most of us know what we want, we can feel our intuition guiding us towards what is meant for us. However, many of the societal frameworks and scripts may challenge the ideas and desires we have. That’s why listening to our intuition is so important. We must trust ourselves more than we trust what society says about us. Particularly for those wanting to pursue a creative or nontraditional career, it’s so crucial that you allow your intuition to guide you. There will be people that tell you it’s not possible. There will be people who remind you of how difficult, uncertain, and unstable the path is. Which may be true. But if you’ve cultivated a deep and trusting relationship with yourself, none of that will matter. You won’t be affected so deeply by your critics; you won’t allow society to shape your path.
Trusting your intuition is a practice. It takes time and dedication. But I know for many of us, it can be hard to decipher between our intuition and our anxiety. That’s something I’m always trying to navigate myself. But what I’ve found is that our intuition usually whispers to us. It gently guides us and reminds us of the truth. And when we listen to our intuition, we typically find peace of mind in the end (even if we have to go through something really painful, we still feel this overarching sense of peace). However, anxious thoughts often berate us, they accuse others, they are defensive and reactive. They are incessant, nonstop, aggressive. And when we act on our anxious feelings, our anxiety is usually heightened in the end.
So, with that being said, next time you are trying to understand what direction to take, or what decision to make, slow down for a moment and go somewhere quiet. Close your eyes and sink into yourself. Observe your body and heart rate, take note of your thought patterns without judgment. Recognize which thoughts bring you peace and recognize which ones bring you anxiety. Practice this as much as you possibly can.
All the answers you are looking for are inside you.
4. Was there ever a point in your career or life where you went against your intuition? Or, similarly, was there a time when you listened to your gut despite other people telling you to do otherwise? What happened?
When I first began sharing my writing, I got the opportunity to have one of my pieces promoted on a well-known poetry platform that had millions of followers. I chose a writing piece that articulated a message I felt many people would benefit from. After submitting the piece, the owner of the account suggested that I choose a different one because that style of writing wasn’t what was “trending” at the moment. They warned me that my submission likely wouldn’t receive high engagement. At the time, micro-poetry was really popular and was receiving the highest engagement on the platform. However, that was really not my style of writing and I intuitively felt that I wanted to share an in-depth message – one that a short, succinct poem couldn’t accurately capture. So, I double downed on the original piece that I submitted.
After the piece was shared, I received a handful of messages from strangers telling me how much the message impacted them and how badly they needed to hear it. And that meant so much to me.
I really do believe that we’re all connected on a spiritual level. And sometimes our intuition pushes us in a direction that is meant solely for the benefit of others and not dependent on mainstream ideas or trends.
Creating and sharing your passions with the world should never revolve around trends but should reflect your most authentic self. Through your authenticity, you connect with the people you’re meant to connect with. You send out messages that the right people are meant to receive. And most importantly, you thoroughly enjoy the beautiful process of creation.
5. How do you know what your inner calling is? How do you tune out the noise and outside distractions to truly listen to what that voice is trying to say?
I think when you know, you know. When you feel it, you feel it. No one else can define it for you. But I think it takes time to figure it out and I think the process looks different for everyone. For me, I really enjoy solitude and complete silence. I find a lot of peace and clarity when I’m at the beach or near any body of water. In those moments, I do my best to sink deeply into myself and write down any thoughts or feelings that make me feel inspired.
But for others, that process may look completely different. I would suggest spending time doing whatever makes you feel peaceful. Be intentional about creating space for the things that slow down your mind. And when you find yourself most at peace, most aligned with your authentic self, document whatever it is that makes you feel excited. Think about what your natural talents are, what you feel passionate about, what you love spending your time doing.
The answers lie in all the things you love.
I also want to add that “finding your calling” shouldn’t feel like a tiresome and gruesome process. There is no rush, there is no race. You can take your time and you can change your mind. I think sometimes we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to figure it all out and map out our life journey. But the truth is, we will never have all the answers and life often evolves in very unexpected ways. So just have fun with it. Be easy on yourself. Just enjoy the process and walk closer towards the things that make you feel good.
6. If you were able to go back in time and restart your career, what would you do differently? Or what wouldn’t you change?
I honestly wouldn’t change anything. And that’s definitely not because I think I have a perfect career or think I’ve made all the right decisions. I still have a lot of work to do. But overall, I’m genuinely happy about where I’m at right now in my life and I’ve cultivated so much love and acceptance for my journey.
I’ve gone through a lot of seasons of self-doubt and a lot of moments where I’ve questioned my ability to build a successful writing career. And I still struggle from time to time. But for me, I think that’s a crucial part of my journey and I wouldn’t change it. Through those darker seasons, I’ve had the chance to witness my own resilience and experience my determination to create a meaningful life. I’ve had the opportunity to look deeply into myself, to challenge my limiting beliefs, and create new agreements about who I am and what I can accomplish.
All of my breakdowns eventually led to breakthroughs. So genuinely, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m very grateful for my past and my present.
Join us on Thursday, November 17th at 8 p.m. EST on Thought Catalog's Instagram for an IG Live interview with Déjà Rae.
For more from Déjà Rae, check out her work on Instagram and Shop Catalog.
Thanks for reading Collective World 🤍 Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.