In Jon Acuff's book Start.: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters, he says that on the road to awesome, it's valuable to be a "student of you." Whatever you keep coming back to, regardless of circumstances or official job title, that's your awesome. Well, what do I keep coming back to? Writing.
In my first "real" job, I was a chemical technician/coop student at Sasol North America, a worldwide commodity chemical company. In high school and college, I thought I wanted to be in the lab forever. That's where the fun happens! After college, Sasol hired me full-time, and within just a few months, my bosses discovered that I could write - and write really well. They loved having someone who understands the science and can also communicate. They ran our group's reports by me, whoever wrote them, to make sure they were accurate, readable, and grammatically correct. Then one day, I realized that I had been pulled completely out of the lab. I was furious. But sometimes God (and my boss) knows me better than I know myself. Apparently, a sink fire, a fumigation of the lab with ether, and sensitivities to several of our lab chemicals weren't enough of a hint for me - so I left the lab involuntarily and discovered that writing was a very real calling for me.
When Sasol moved away from my beloved Austin, TX, I sought a new career. This time, I published two resumes - one as a technical writer, and one as a chemist. Both resumes ended up in the hands of hiring staff at Signature Science, LLC. What did they need? A chemist who could write. I spent nine and a half years at Signature Science and ended up working for almost every division in the company - quality assurance, chemistry, testing and technology, marketing, and even IT. It was an awesome experience (and the one where I met my husband, Alan), but by the end I was exhausted. Too much work, too little time, and not enough of me to go around led me to a state of crying on my way to work every morning. That's when I got to experience my next calling - teaching.
In college, I received two degrees - one from The University of Texas at Austin (a BS in chemistry), and one from the Institute for Christian Studies (now called Austin Graduate School of Theology, a BS in Biblical studies). Even then, I thought that teaching science at a Christian school would be a great "road to awesome," as Jon Acuff would say.
On a particularly difficult day, Alan came home and said, "Quit your job. Go apply for the science position at the local Christian school that's hiring. It's your dream, and we can afford for you to take the summer off and pursue this job." I was flabbergasted, weeping joyfully with relief, and I quit the next day. I taught for five years and absolutely loved it. But here's what I discovered: teaching is the most all-consuming, challenging, and exhausting job you'll ever hope to find. I loved it more than words could say, but after five years, compassion fatigue got the better of me. I prayed for an entire semester, "Lord, if you no longer want me teaching your children here, please pull me out. I love it, but I'm not doing a very good job this year." God, in His infinite wisdom, pulled me out - again.
So here I am. In every profession I've tried, I've been a communicator, a teacher, and a relationship builder. I've always been at interfaces: translating engineer-speak into scientist-speak and then into marketing-speak, translating science-speak into teenager-speak, communicating customer needs to companies and vice versa.
Now I'm a freelance writer, website designer, tutor, and blogger. Now I get to take all of the experience of my life and make it into my own enterprise.
In James 4:14-15, Jesus' brother says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."