i read in a book about nuns (sorry, can't remember the title or i'd reference it here) that in the oldie moldie days, when the catholics had 10 or more children, they would "tithe" one or two of their children to the church so you'd grow up your whole life hearing, "bobby, you're going to be a priest when you grow up." and "mary jane, you're going to be a nun." and it didn't matter if you had a vocation or not. living the religious life with no vocation makes one the meanest 5th grade math teacher ever. when i read that, a lot fell into place and made sense for me - i think many of my elementary school teachers might not have been called to the religious life.
nowadays, it's no longer the pride of a family to have clergy or monastics among your children. people ask me, "why would you want to be a nun and give everything up?" i am less intrigued with the "everything" that people are talking about. i am not called to marriage. i may have family life, but in an alternative way. there is no nuclear family in america anymore anyway.
in the west, nuns, monks, and priests are fewer but they have sure vocations. they make the choice, rather than having it thrust on them as in the past. this makes for a different kind of nun. also, people are called later in life, after living independently and alone. used to be you'd go from your father's house to the convent. from following your mother's rules to your reverend mother's rules. now the transition to obedience is not so easy (ok, i don't know that it was "easy" back then).
what's a 30 something (rapidly approaching 40 something) woman to do? guess i'll find out when the time is right.