Thursday, March 12, 2015

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I'm in my 30's and its hard to believe that I still haven't exactly figured out a career path (thankfully I've got a sugar daddy). For right now I'm mommying it full-time with my four crazy hoodlums. I know that in a few years when my kids are older I'll be ready to re-enter the workforce.

I've always envied those people who seem born to do what they do: like the musical prodigies and professional dancers who begin showing signs of genius at age three, or the boys who are gifted at sports and go on to play professionally.

That's just not me. I've always been okay at everything I've tried, but as a child and even as a teenager I never had a clear passion for anything-- except for maybe a passion for enjoying life.

I entered college pretty cluelessly. I liked writing and speaking, so I became a Communication major thinking I'd be a news anchor. But, I quickly realized I didn't like the pressure of being in front of the camera.

 I was focused on making good grades and having a good time with my friends, but not particularly focused on finding a long term career. I didn't do a good job of networking, and I regret the fact that I didn't complete an internship before graduation.

During college, the classes that stimulated my mind the most were the anthropology, art, and creative writing courses I was able to squeeze in after I finished all my major course requirements.

After graduation, I took a job with a campus ministry I had been involved in during college, and after that I did some public relations writing for a non-profit. I decided to stay home a few months before I gave birth to our first son, and the rest is history.

Should I have gone to college right out of high school? I'm not sure. If I had been more mature and focused, I think the experience could have been four times as beneficial for me career-wise. But at the same time, I wouldn't trade my friends, my story, or my road for anything.

Without even realizing it, I internalized the lie that if you didn't start young or get the right major you can't pursue the kind of work you are ultimately interested in. The truth is that hard work will get you a whole lot farther than sitting on the sofa, eating Ben and Jerry's, and lamenting about days gone by.  

Right now I don't have the time or the money to go back to school or even take classes. But I've got internet access, a library card, and the will to work hard. I can use the biggest thing I learned from my school experience: how to be a lifelong learner.

I love being a mother and think the work I do at home is valuable and challenging, but I just NEED to be doing creative work. My goal is to figure out some stimulating work that I can do from home. For the time being, I want to be committed to working, growing, and learning. I'll see where that takes me.

The proof that this sort of thing is possible is all around me. We have friends who have taught themselves all sorts of things-- from photography to flower arrangement, sewing to coding-- who are now working at least part-time doing things they enjoy.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. — Ira Glass

Stay at home moms out there (or anyone really), do you find yourself craving meaningful work outside of your household or day job? If so, How are you honing your craft so that you have something to contribute to the world?