Friday, June 13, 2014

Your thing for His glory

Disclaimer: Before reading this post, you should know that I don't believe the career path I'm on is for everyone. We all have individual and unique callings, and I celebrate that! I also have a tremendous amount of respect for employees who serve their companies in excellence, as well as for those who persevere through non "dream jobs" in order to provide for their families. This blog is more of a reflection of my own journey and less of a call for everyone to quit their day jobs...but I DO encourage each one of you to take a "step of faith" in some area of your life, whatever that looks like for you.

. . .

I met someone new the other day, and of course the "what do you do?" question came up. When I first began freelancing, this question freaked me out. Because, well...I don't just do one thing. And until recently, I thought that might not be okay.

Got my diploma, don't got a clue.
"Pick one thing in life and stick with it forever." I've been failing at that concept for basically my whole life, which is why I decided to throw it out the window completely. For many people, however, it remains a very real mindset. The concept of choosing a major in college contributes to its potency, and leads to beliefs like, "Every job description on my resume must work in perfect progression, and every bullet point must make sense in relation to all the others." If those things were true, I would have the worst resume ever.

I've previously worked as a radio station intern, magazine intern, J. Crew sales assistant, English tutor in France, Miss Texas contestant (okay, not really a job, but...), and a newspaper staff writer. I currently work as an author, artist, blogger, journalist, web designer, content producer, marketing consultant, social media manager, brand revamper, and hair and makeup artist.While all of these things fall under the "creative" umbrella, there's nothing uniform about my resume. My former thoughts about that fact: Am I too all over the place? Should I consolidate my efforts? Do I need to stop doing art...forever?
The only job that required evening wear.

Now? I'm addicted to diversification. Here's why:

1. Every day is different. Some weeks my schedule is packed with back-to-back projects, and some weeks I'm able to have an extra long devotional, a nice morning workout, and maybe even some layout-by-the-pool time in the afternoon. Some days I'm working on producing web content, and some days I'm starting on a new painting commission. Sometimes it's art prints, sometimes it's a social media launch, sometimes it's brand consulting, and sometimes it's having the time to make a really fab dinner for my husband. If I have a new idea, I can pursue it. If I need to travel, I can do it. In a word, that's called freedom.

2. I'm not dependent on one source of income. Not a ton of writing projects this month? I'll do more painting. A web project with a client just concluded? I'll say "yes" to a request to do hair and makeup for a wedding. There's an ebb and flow to freelance life—but by working with more than one type of client, there's always a new opportunity to keep moving forward (and, you know, putting food on the table).

"Golden Girl"
3. I've met incredible people. From brides, to bridal designers, to event planners, to photographers, to magazine editors, to hair stylists, I've gotten to work with some truly amazing clients...and I've learned something from each of them. Some have encouraged me. Some have stretched me. Some have challenged me. Some have inspired me to try something new. All of them have grown my capabilities, expanded my reach, and paved the way for future opportunities and relationships.

4. I've become a business owner. When I first began freelancing, I thought I was still working for other people. Now, however, I see myself as the owner of the best kind of business I can imagine: my own! I absolutely love giving voice to someone's passion, pinpointing the personality of a brand, creating a beautiful piece of art for someone's home, and writing and marketing my own projects. Although still working in conjunction with and on behalf of other people, I've gained the valuable skill set of an entrepreneur. Think time and money management, PR and marketing, networking...and the freedom to adapt my offerings based on new ideas, market trends, and/or creative inspiration. Most importantly,

5.  I've had to trust the Lord to provide again and again and again. People can write all of the helpful articles they want, but there's really no road map to freelancing successfully. It's like going off grid, diving into the deep end, sailing uncharted waters, [pick a cliche and insert it here]. If you're a naturally born, um, control freak like me, the "element of surprise" aspect of this type of employment can be especially challenging. But it can also be the most rewarding. I think that's because faith is actually a job requirement.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1, NLT

At the launch party for my book, Hitched in a Hurry.
I had one client when I began freelancing a year ago. ONE. I made almost no money, had no consistency in my (work) life to speak of, and spent more than a few days twiddling my thumbs and feeling absolutely worthless. I knew that the Lord had called me to leave my full-time job, and I knew that He'd given me express instructions to "use my talents to glorify Him." The only problem? I had absolutely no idea how to begin doing that...and unfortunately, had found so much of my identity in my work and accomplishments that I was on the verge of a major crisis.

So I started blogging. I wrote about the things the Lord was speaking into my heart, purely for the love of writing (AKA, no dollar signs attached). I took on painting commissions. I did a lot of creative thinking, planning, and dreaming. I freaked out and considered applying for full-time jobs again. I removed my finger from the panic button, told the Lord I trusted Him, and...all of the sudden, I had a published book and a rotating Rolodex of clients and projects that I was (and continue to be) completely passionate about. I have not gone about this journey perfectly, but I have experienced grace beyond measure as I've seen the Lord provide connections, opportunities, adventures, and yes, income beyond anything I could have asked for or imagined.

Life is too short to hold back, play it safe, and make fear-based decisions. I say that we go for it, whatever "it" is. That we stop caring about what other people will think, stop fretting about what might happen in the future, stop comparing our journeys and callings to those of other people, and step out in faith toward whatever God is calling us toward.

In short? Do your thing to His glory. There's nothing more fulfilling than that.

. . .

What thing have you been scared to try? What "step of faith" can you take to make it happen?

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