I want to tell you a story. I’m going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl.
These sentences began the closing argument Matthew McConaughey’s character makes at the end of A Time to Kill. It was this movie, and this closing argument that made me want to become a lawyer. I was in 6th grade. From that point forward, my life became all about law school. I wanted to go to college and for that, I would need a scholarship. So I took the SATs in 8th grade, joined the Debate team in 9th and Mock Trial in 10th. I will tell you right now that in all of the experiences I’ve had in my life so far, nothing compares to how I felt in the courtroom, even if it was for mock trial. As soon as I turned 16, I got my first job as a cashier at KMart, working my way up to the Customer Service Desk in 6 months.
Because I didn’t know how to quit back then.
I loved helping people. Thus began my career in retail – between the ages of 16 and 19, I worked in customer service before I transitioned into law firms, sometimes working 2 jobs at a time while going to school full-time. My first full-time job was working as an office manager at a legal recruiting firm (I stayed there for 2 years). In the meantime, I was always writing but I still had my heart set on law school. It was my dream. It wasn’t until I got my first communications job at a trade association and met the man I would consider my mentor that I even considered a career involving communications and writing.
My boss at that job was the one who convinced me to add on Journalism as a minor. He was the one that encouraged my writing while I was still using a pen name and if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have in my career now.
Losing that job and taking the leap to becoming a full-time freelancer was the best thing that happened to me. It was at this point when I had to figure out what my future looked like because law school was no longer a viable option. At least not on this path.
Instead, I want to remind you to do what you love, not just what you can.
In school, I was really good at math. I don’t know why, but it just clicked. I wasn’t passionate about math. I didn’t go above and beyond what was required of me. Up until my senior year in high school, it was just something I was good at so I got the good grades and somehow made it to AP Calculus. It may have made sense for me to continue on a math-related path in college but I didn’t love it.
When it came to history, English, and Psychology, however, I went above and beyond. Maybe it was that English is my second language but I had to spend extra time on my assignments but I didn’t mind it one bit. I fell in love with Psychology so much, I started a Psychology Club in my high school. It didn’t click as easily as math did for me but spending that extra time made me fall even more in love with it.
This has translated into my career as well.
When you hate your job, the quality of your life also diminishes.
If you’ve known me for even five minutes, it’ll become obvious that writing is my passion. I’m not just talking about blogging but writing. Researching articles. Doing journalistic pieces. Op-ed pieces.
It always comes back to writing and making a difference. I don’t want to just write fluff pieces. I want to talk about things that matter. I want to shake things up. I want to make a difference with my words.
This is the common thread and this is the underlying passion that steered me toward becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business. No matter where life has taken me, I’ve had a passion for a tiny project I started back in 2006. It has been fueling the fire in my heart, keeping me going non-stop, even through depression and unemployment. I will continue to fail and make mistakes. I’ll take detours on my career. I will have to take on projects to make ends meet that may bore me to tears at times.
But mark my words – I will never lose sight of my destination because my life just doesn’t make sense when I’m not writing.
So how do all of these pieces fit together? How does a writer who once wanted to be a lawyer, wants to travel the world and make a difference with her words find a career that makes sense?
Well, she creates it, of course.
That’s why I’m an aspiring digital nomad philanthropist. That may seem like a silly title now but give me another 18 months and all the pieces will fall into place. (Update: I pulled the trigger on the big project that’s been driving me for the last 7 years. Check it out)
Who knows? In 10 years, I’ll probably talking about getting into law school and starting my first day of class.
Haven’t you heard? I’m kind of an overachiever.
Inspired by this prompt from Laura: You are not your resume; you are a collective of your life/work experience combined. If you were to look at all the jobs you’ve had, the hobbies, the things you choose to do, and what excites you the most, what’s that common thread that weaves all of those things together? Who are you at your core? What is it that you can’t, not do?