Friday, March 8, 2013

Ignoring One's Calling (Part 2)

Here's the conclusion of the story started by Amanda M. Socci, the Creative Idea Gal, last week. Click here to read the earlier post.


Age 29: Finding Success with another Career Change
Amanda M. Socci
I struggled finding a suitable career, until magic happened in July 2001.  Out of the blue, with no discernible trail, I received a call from a headhunter who had picked out my resume after seeing the words “law” and “marketing.”  To say that I was floored is an understatement.  That afternoon, pretty much in a drunken haze of disbelief, I went to the interview and got the job.

For 5 ½ years, I worked as a technical writer supporting the United States Patent and Trademark Office solely based on my credentials as a law school graduate and for having self-published “Consumers Everywhere.”  Despite not having a stitch of experience in information technology, I worked hard and earned myself a reputation as a strong and thorough worker.

Those 5 ½ years were heaven, but they still didn’t fulfill my soul creatively.  I basically ignored my calling to write, again, by focusing on my new career in information technology while building upon two original ideas that I came up with: Amanda’s Ideas, LLC and Amanda’s Charities, LLC. 

I founded two businesses to sell two distinct services: creative services including story-writing, sewing quilts, and making diaper creations, and charity services: to be hired by businesses that wanted me to execute small-scale charitable programs.

After devoting thousands of dollars and tireless energy to those efforts, can you guess what type of success I enjoyed for being a business owner with an original concept? You guessed it - - goose egg success.  Thankfully, God already had other plans lined up for me, so I ended up drowning my business sorrows in my next calling as a mother, but still not a writer.

Age 34: Motherhood and Leadership Stints
I had my oldest daughter in 2006 and rightfully began focusing all efforts on her.  During this time, I became domestic, turning moments of free time into cleaning, cooking, and shopping time.  On a lark, I found a perfect telecommuting job doing freelance writing of hotel descriptions, but that lasted only a short time.

It was hard finding telecommuting writing jobs, so I gave up. Once again, I turned to new career choices to prove to myself that I could easily get a job that paid quick money and didn’t have the uncertainties of writing. To support this bright theory, I turned to a leadership role in charge of a group of ladies with a religious organization as well as a sales representative gig with AVON.

If you could peek into my life and see how many hours of training, learning, and dedicated work I logged into both of these projects, you would officially dismiss me as stupid, and I would have to agree.  I was so enthusiastic to do everything else that didn’t involve writing, thinking naively that I could propel my career to new heights selling $2.99 lipgloss.  Fortunately, that treadmill of doom ended abruptly in the summer of 2010, when I learned I was expecting my second daughter.

I experienced the worst morning sickness I could possibly endure. Yet, miraculously, I found a telecommuting job writing high school sports features.  Once again, that stint was short-lived.  Right after my second daughter was born in 2011, my oldest was suddenly getting ready for kindergarten, so all gears shifted towards school preparation while now trying to balance two squirmy girls.

My daughter’s kindergarten school year began beautifully. I put my over-achiever hat on while volunteering to be the troop leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop.  I also helped my husband chair the chess student group.  I was very busy, even overwhelmed. I was working non-stop and sick all the time from exhaustion.

Little did I know my break-neck pace was catching up to me and preparing me for the big reveal.

Age 40: WTF are you doing?
I continued working hard as a Girl Scout leader right up until February 2012. I had already planned so many activities for the girls, but I was annoyed because the parents were not responding in a way that I wanted them to.  I got mad.  Really mad.  The pressure had been building up for a while and I was fed up with having sacrificed quality time with my family for a bunch of unappreciative people.

It seemed that God had made these circumstances so unbearable for me, that I would have no choice but to quit.  In February 2012 I abruptly quit my leadership role with the Girl Scouts. The way that things happened was so violent, that I felt as if a strong arm had grabbed me by the shirt with brute force and pushed me backwards. I crashed into a brick wall, and like the silly cartoons we watch with our kids, I saw a little circle of stars and birds flying around my head.  What just happened?

That day, God spoke to me, but it wasn’t the gentle calling I had experienced for most of my life. These were words and actions spoofed by the dude with the floppy hair in Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video, where he scolds the boy and asks “what are you gonna do with your life?”  Except, it wasn’t the dude, but God himself telling me in his own way what I should be doing with my life.

If that experience didn’t cut through my thick head that I should stop playing around with fly-by-night career choices and buckle down to what I was meant to do, then nothing would.  From that moment forward, I quit my nonsensical thinking cold turkey and opened up the curtains to a bright future as a freelance writer.

Not Going to Take It
I knew immediately what my first project would be.  I was going to start writing a book on faith hoping to inspire people with torrid tales of my embarrassing life dramas and uplifting endings couched in faith.  And I did, except I started off slowly by blogging my book on a local news site.

I also started hanging out on Twitter again, hoping to connect with writers.  Eventually, I found Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform challenge for writers. My personal success within Robert’s challenge went beyond my expectations, as I never expected I’d make so many new wonderful supportive writer friends.

Today, I am no longer hearing that familiar calling in my life because I am living it. Because I have such an open mind about the possibilities of writing, I have improved my blogging, furthered my social media goals, made some pretty good connections, and have achieved the very thing I ran away from so many years ago - - the act of writing consistently.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is to pay closer attention when I get that familiar feeling that I should be doing something.  God is not the same to all of us; he is what we make him out to be.  He will talk to all of us and drop hints about our calling in ways that are custom-tailored in our lives. 

For me, that calling happens to be writing. Although I felt that urge back when I was 10, I voluntarily ignored the urge and chased the mirage of success through non-writing work that only paid the bills, but left a void in my satisfaction thermometer.

After having sustained head injuries from being body slammed against the metaphoric brick wall and answering my life’s wake-up call in the positive, I am living proof that it is never too late to answer God’s calling.


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Create Your Writer Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author
by Chuck Sambuchino

If you want a book that covers platform in all its variations, this is the title for you. Chuck Sambuchino is the author of humor titles such as How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack and Red Dog Blue Dog, but he's also behind Guide to Literary Agents and Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript. In other words, he's been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Chuck covers social media, blogs, newsletters, public speaking, and more. Click the link above to check it out today.


Sopphey Vance said...

I've just finished reading this two piece life-changing experience and can only feel so lucky to have found the MNINB April Platform Challenge last April. I'm only 25, and with the help of all the new writers I met through the challenge, I'm noticing that I too have filled my life with quick gigs instead of writing. Great job on these two posts Amanda, I can't wait to see what you write next.

bolton calrey said...

Amanda - I finally got a chance to read the second part. I'm only hoping God makes things a little more obvious to me. Love your reference to Twisted Sister. :)

Muddy said...

Amanda, I loved reading about your journey to finding your true calling! I loved both your honesty & your humor! I think you're incredibly lucky to have experienced your calling so loudly. (Maybe if I stood by a brick wall... :) ) I'm glad you feel like you're finally on the right path!