As students at a high-caliber university, we tend to think we have things figured out. We are all highly driven people — we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t. Still, amid our short-term objectives and cluttered to-do lists, we can often lose sight of the bigger picture.

Our education here has a distinct purpose: to make us more effective contributors to society and to allow us to do good for those around us. Perhaps the greatest way in which we can contribute to our communities is through our work; to ensure that our work is truly transformative, we must commit ourselves to endeavors we care about.

I am not speaking of a mere nine-to-five, but rather a career, a calling or a vocation. I find it difficult to think about something that seems so far away, let alone find the time to do so. Nevertheless, to truly discover the ways in which we can positively affect our communities, we have to discern our vocations.

The first aspect to consider is whether you can fall in love with what you plan to do. This love manifests itself not as a passing inclination, but as an enduring passion. As a pre-med student, I am continually awestruck by the power of modern medical science. I truly believe I can devote my life to harnessing that power for the good of others.

Still, don’t fall for the old cliche, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” There will always be days when we have to drag ourselves out of bed. But the drive and excitement your work gives you should, on most days, counterbalance the occasional dread of putting on pants in the morning.

You should also consider if your occupation will help you become a person for others. I have found in not only the Jesuits who first established Georgetown, but also those who still contribute to its mission, examples for living a life guided by socially engaged faith. I see medicine as the best way for me to live by such a faith, serving and healing people through work for which I have a natural affinity and passion.

St. Ignatius of Loyola said finding our unique ways to better the human condition will offer us consolation a deep-seated peace and joy. Find what offers you consolation, and use it to discern how you can best improve your community, both local and global.

We all enjoy doing things that are easy, but no one takes pride in ease. We love and need to be challenged. In pursuing my vocation as a physician, I hope to not only expand my knowledge of the world, but also adapt my skill set to ever-changing demands.

Whatever occupation you choose, it should require you to apply yourself fully to succeed. A job that offers you a robust challenge will help you become your best self.

Finally, everyone should consider the experience their occupation would offer them. It is my hope that my work will allow me to “go to the margins” — to provide care for the most vulnerable people in the world. I want to be able to contribute to the miracles that happen inside an operating room and to use the knowledge and experiences I have gained through my vocation for the betterment of others.

For you, travelling the world or getting to meet unique people may be the most fulfilling experience. It is not wrong to consider how you will personally benefit from your vocation. It would be wrong, however, to squander your life laboring away in a position in which you will never find joy or consolation.

I am still on my journey of discernment, and I harbor no delusions that I will remain the same person over the next five, 10 or 15 years. But living purposefully with an end in mind will give greater meaning to the daily grind.

Georgetown calls us to the Ignatian ideal of contemplation in action. There is nothing wrong with being busy, but don’t be distracted. Rather, use each day to discern what to do with the next one.

Robert Monsour is a junior in the College. The Round Table appears online every other Wednesday as a rotating column by members of the Knights of Columbus.

One Comment

  1. Hi Robert,

    Several years ago I set up google alert on my name, which appears to be the same as yours.

    I was very heartened to read your column and can only say that I wish that I had had as thoughtful a perspective as yours when I was a college junior.

    At 62, I can say that my career has been fulfilling and that I have found areas of vocation, outside of my professional career, that were very fulfilling.

    I wish you all the best as you pursue your career in medicine.

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