I arrived at Princeton Theological Seminary with the intention of becoming a Pastor. Deeply focused on my end goal, I had a clear, concise and tightly sealed plan of action.
I can almost hear the Universe laughing, right now – “Oh, young Klay”.
I left Princeton with a new, further evolved and more authentic understanding of: my call, the essence of my being and a deep awakening that told me, “You will never be the same, again. Ever.”
My well-thought out, Type-A, buttoned-up world would have to take a permanent backseat to the spirit of purpose that invited me (more like shoved me) into a world of uncertainty, faith and risk.
Had I just avoided drinking the first magical sip of the divine world of Polo Ralph Lauren, (right across the street from Princeton) I might have maintained my level of comfort and safety. But, that did not happen.
In an effort to financially support my master’s degree, I began working part-time at Banana Republic in Palmer Square (a shopping district in Princeton, NJ). While there for a few weeks, I was recruited to work part-time at a newly opening Polo Ralph Lauren. The store manager, Heather, played a wonderful game of “pretend” shopper in her recruitment efforts for new talent.
Immediately, I was drawn to the experience of wardrobing clients, the creative and detailed process of ushering in a space of artistic excellence and unbeknownst to me, a level of connecting with people in a new way. It felt genuine, deeply spiritual, strange and ironically, fun. I soon became full-time, then a manager. I found myself running from my field education site at a church in Princeton, right down the street to Ralph Lauren. As I started to develop a rapport with colleagues and clients alike, something happened that I could not explain – I started to use the spiritual foundation of my studies at Princeton, in a way to connect, deeper, to my clients. Before I knew it, my work became more than just about “selling clothes”, but a method for me to somehow coach others in not only looking their best, but also feeling it.
Fashion called and in a way that I did not expect. It led me to a new project of creating a lifestyle company, settled on the philosophy of, nurturing the interior, while image consulting the exterior – thus was born Plan A℠. These two diverse worlds brought me to the concrete jungle of New York City with $500, as I couch-surfed my way towards courageously exploring the depths of purpose and truth.
The watered-down version of my call story has been a journey, well over a decade in the making, of immense self-examination, sacrifice, a test in faith and unparalleled realizations that there are no mistakes. No experience is wasted and no path is that bizarre/strange when we are grounded in purpose. While unconventional paths might be ahead of their time, the worse mistake we could ever make is to not respond. To stay in our small-minded space of “being safe.” To remain in the cubicle. To living a life rooted in death and stagnation. To living a life rooted in death and stagnation.
Maybe your call story experience is the same. Perhaps it is different. The larger realization is that as we seek to explore our individual paths, we inevitably contribute to the whole of society. If you are paying attention, now like never before our world is undergoing a space of massive reconstruction, a divine reckoning of trying to find its wholeness all over again. And, it’s your response in deciding to create, examine and begin to explore your called path that is the heartbeat of this movement.
Today, I work with clients in supporting them in not only discovering their gifts, talents and dreams, but also offering them the tools to actualize their Plan A℠. When fashion called, this seminarian had no idea that this experience would be the impetus to catapult me in to a life of meaning and fulfilled creative expression.
What is calling you? There, your story awaits.