Never Too Old to Learn Something New
Recently, I realized something about myself that is a revelation. I am a self-taught learner. It isn’t that I didn’t already know that, but the gravity of this attribute about my personality engages new freedom.
When I got married, I didn’t even know how to cook meat. The first meal I prepared for H while we were dating was soup and salad. I am surprised he continued to want to see me.
After we got married, I worked as receptionist for a chiropractor who had a gold mine in magazines laying around the lobby. When we were slow, I perused the pages of cooking magazines, made copies of recipes and taught myself how to cook. Started with gourmet recipes and then had to learn how to cook plain, boring meals when I had kids a few years later.
Our first home, a rented condo with a concrete porch backyard, provided an opportunity to learn how to garden in containers. Bought an old book at a yard sale on the subject and grew herbs the size of small shrubs. And I learned to make a mean bowl of pesto from all that basil.
When we finally moved to a home with a yard, I bought more books and learned how to garden in the desert climate of Phoenix. Our neighbors began asking me for advice on plant purchases and design of their flowers beds in their own yards.
While my kids were attending school in North Carolina, I noticed that their yearbook needed some updating. They were still doing it by hand when most of the world shifted to creating them online. I offered to be the editor if they let me work with a company and train a team to do the pages digitally. That year I took most all of the photos of the students and created the entire yearbook online without any prior experience. Even took a picture used for a billboard to promote the school.
That knowledge opened the doors for a job as a writer with the Anglican Mission. An answer to prayer about a job that came with someone taking a chance on me, hired on gut instinct. Until then I had never written a feature article in my life. Read every book I could get my hands on about writing: On Writing Well, The Elements of Style, Words that Stick and began the journey.
Credentials Aren’t the Same Thing as Identity
After four years of writing hundreds of stories, I still struggled with calling myself a writer. Why? Because when you do something without a piece of paper that declares your intelligence, you somehow feel like you aren’t as good or smart as the ones with all those degrees and experience. That what I have to offer is somehow flawed because I didn’t take the traditional academic route our culture expects.
I can’t say that I went to school for journalism, or was mentored by some famous author, or even went to a conference or workshop somewhere that helped me learn how to be a writer. I am open to that, even desire it, but right now, I am a writer because God led me here.
Pat Conroy, the author of Prince of Tides (and lots of other best sellers) once looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, “you don’t have to go to school to be a writer” and began to list all the authors he knows who have been published without doing so. He affirmed me as a writer and I began to own it myself.
Obedience is the Only Credential for Fulfillment
My time in college earning a degree in marketing proves invaluable for more than just academics and I wouldn’t trade what I learned in those years for anything. But that investment isn’t the end of the road for creating who I am. Only God determines where the journey leads. He open doors, teaches, gives favor, promotes and helps me walk a straight path into calling.
Whether learning how to cook, garden, write, or raise money for orphans in Rwanda, I have never walked a traditional path. It just isn’t what God chose for me.
I also didn’t get where I am by sitting around. I invest countless hours of research, reading and networking to learn from the experience of others that have gone before me. And offer it all to God afterward.
Finding fulfillment comes from ears wide open to hear and a heart willing to say yes, even when the road feels awkward and crooked. Don’t let a lack of credentials keep you from following your dream. He knows the way; just trust him.
I would appreciate your vote for my essay, selected by Real Simple Magazine’s first ever Simply Stated Blogger Contest by going here on their website. Thanks!