Finding Shelter from the Downpour: Reflections on the Written Word that Helped Me Find My True Calling in Life
I wasn’t always a writer and truth be known I never really pictured myself as being one. As I grew over the years, I had a million different ideas of what I wanted to become. I once thought about becoming a professional baseball player. Then in high school I had thought about designing video games, and then changed my mind again around the time I was a junior. It was at this time I had thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I had toyed with one idea after another of what I thought I wanted to become as I’m sure many of us do. After all, life is about experimentation as well as trials and errors. That’s the normal way to live, right?
The fact is that I’ve learned there really is no such thing as growing up normally. Oh some of us will live better than others. Some of us will work harder than other people we know to get where we want to be. However, no two people will ever lead the same lifestyle. I feel it’s extremely rare most of us have everything figured out even in our adult years.
Since I’ve reach hub number 25, I’ve decided to mark this particular milestone in my life with a personal tale of why I do this kind of work. The fact is I don’t write nearly as much as other hubbers here, so I’m not making a profit. I’m also not becoming a famous celebrity or a nationally known writer for what I discuss. Heck, as I’ve said, I haven’t been a writer all my life. So how did I get here?
The Path to Nowhere
I am originally from California. Although I was born in San Francisco, most of my childhood life was spent in San Rafael, which is about 35 minutes north of San Francisco. Our family lived in a pretty nice house on a hill and my father had a strong commercial real estate business there. However, life was starting to get pretty expensive here and a number of strict land regulations were starting to take a toll on my father’s business. My father‘s sister and her family were living in Columbia, South Carolina. Seeing a promising new start for his business as well as a desire to be closer to his family, my father decided to move us to the Palmetto State in July 1995. I was 15 years old at the time.
By the time I became a junior, I was juggling around with numerous ideas about what kind of career I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to strike me. I wasn’t sure if I was good at anything nor did I have a strong passion to develop a talent.
During that year, we had a school project in which each of us played a role in a legal case based on the story of Billy Bud. It’s a classic novel by Herman Melville, which tells the story of a sailor who was sentenced to die for killing a superior officer aboard a navy ship who accused him of conspiracy to commit mutiny. In this project, I was one of the prosecutors assigned to represent the government who had charged Billy with murder in the first degree.
I didn’t win the case, but at the time it was a fun experience for me. I liked the idea of standing in front of an audience arguing my case. I also enjoyed the research aspect. My parents thought that I had a natural talent as a layer and that I should have pushed for that goal. They thought I had the intelligence to handle it. They thought I was good at doing research and making solid arguments. Most importantly, they thought it would be the best thing for me to push for if I wanted to have a successful future.
Then college came. I started in 1999 and majored in Political Science at the University of South Carolina. I had taken some classes on the law, including one that talked about the history and functions of the US court systems. I studied numerous books and took a private tutor on taking the LSAT around the time I was a second semester Junior. Eventually I did take the test and submitted my score along with my law school application to USC’s Law School. However, the score was so bad that I got a response within two weeks that my application was turned down. It was disheartening, but I decided to pick up the pieces and try again at a later time.
About 6 months after I graduated, I went to South University to take a course in Paralegal Studies. The program allowed us to take 40 hours of classes per week, so I was about to get my certification within four months. About a month later, I applied to several law firms to work as a paralegal, and worked as legal assistant for the Attorney General’s office of SC.
When I started my job at the Attorney General’s office, I made a second attempt to take the LSAT and got some more private tutoring. On top of that, I scheduled to take the test again and devoted at least 3 months before the official test day to study old LSAT books and retake old tests. I hoped this work would boost my score. It did only by a small amount, but it was a boost nevertheless. After I took the test, I got a few letters of recommendation to accompany my law school applications. Yes, this time, I submitted more than one application rather than put all my eggs into one basket like the last time. Also the letters came from people with excellent professional credentials, including my direct supervising attorney and even one from the Attorney General himself. I worked as a legal assistant for over a year at this time. Surely, my credentials would get me a “yes” somewhere.
6 applications were sent…and all 6 were no’s. This really hurt my self-esteem. I was beginning to dread going to work, feeling as if I was accomplishing nothing . I finally left the State and decided to work in the private sector. I thought perhaps I could build better credentials when the time would come and I would try again for law school. However, the time simply never came. I was bombarded with one deadline after another and the pressure just got to me. On top of that, I was starting to discover that I didn’t enjoy the legal work as much as I thought I would. In addition, I was struggling to move out of my parent’s home. I didn’t think that financially I was able to do it without becoming a successful attorney…or a successful anything for that matter.
I hit the worst bump in my life on my road to success...a dead end.
The Writer’s Birth
During the time I worked at the AG’s office, I wrote numerous blogs. At first, they were mainly joke blogs that I would share with my friends. I even would do contests filled with movie lines, asking readers to guess the names of the movies and which actor/actress had said them. However, as my desire to continue legal work began to fall to the wayside, my blogs became a lot more serious. They were focused on thoughts I had on different aspects of life. They told the world my personal beliefs about God, about what it means to have a real loving family, about trying to discover what you true talent in life is. I remember even writing a serious blog about the movie “Being There." I talked about the powerful message that movie portrayed about human kindness and how it helped a dying man no longer fear the idea about dying at all.
When I started my pursuit of law from college onwards through my time as a paralegal, I had a glowing vision of working to become a successful attorney with a perfect home and family. I had a naïve optimistic view on my life. It was clear from my writing that I was beginning to change…and it was a change that needed to occur.
The writing became far more intense as time went over the years. I developed a lot of hobbies over the years and then eventually just decided to move on to something else. However, with writing it became different because I always had some kind of idea of what I wanted to do write about next. I just never got tired of it. It’s true that I never did it on a daily basis and I still don’t, but my thoughts always seem to dwell on what written words would come next.
Eventually, I left my last paralegal job in January 2009 and started working as a project specialist for a tax prep firm. At first, the job was a bumpy start. It involved doing work that I had never done before. In fact, I had started right at the start of the tax crunch deadline, so it was a pretty daunting start. Yes, I worked a lot of late hours to make it through my first run including weekends…and I am still there. I have been recently promoted to lead one of the teams of this incredible company. More importantly than just getting a promotion, my new career and my new life gave me the opportunities I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do.
The Messenger’s Goal
I decided that if I was going to take my work seriously, I would need to center my theme and get more exposure outside of personal blog posts on social network sites. In December 2010, I tried my hand first with posting short stories on the Yahoo Contributor networking, featuring fictional characters that were placed in terrible situations, yet one way or another they would find a way to get out of that situation. In July 2011, I moved my work over to Viewshound, hoping to gain more exposure. I still posted stories, but I began to shift my focus on news stories that dealt with people dealing with personal struggles such as bullying and other social issues. By December of that year, Viewshound had shut down. I then moved on to Hubpages. I centered my theme more on news stories that not only dealt with people going through hard times, but the help they would receive from charities and individuals who helped them through their pain.
The more I work on my theme, the more I began to understand why these stories are so important to me. From the time I was in college up until I left my last legal job in January 2009, I was starting to find out that I was struggling to become someone that I was never meant to be. It was hard to accept because I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to figure that out. While I lived with my parents in my late 20’s with no plan on what to do with my life, people younger than me were already working as business managers living in nice upscale homes. I felt like I was behind everyone else…and I hated myself for it.
However, these stories I share here are those of people with real struggles. In the past nine months, I read about kids growing up in gang-infested neighborhoods, a soldier who lost his arm and leg while fighting in a war, and a father who passed from this life while leaving behind his wife and five children. One of those children was born only days before the father died. There may have been years in my life that were hard for me, but my experience could never touch the pain that others have gone through. Most importantly, these people have gotten the help they needed because someone was willing to step in and get them back on their feet, which gives me hope that a good life can be achieved for anyone.
Seeing my thoughts in print has really shown me how I changed over the years. Yes, the idea of doing research work was pretty interesting to me, but the fact is that being an attorney probably attracted me because I was swayed by the idea of being in a secure job with lofty perks. However, as I wrote out my thoughts and as I saw what my thoughts were telling me, it made wonder if I was going for something that closed doors for me rather than open them.
When I write, I’m not bound by rules or regulations on how to do it or how to say what I want to say. I am free to express myself the way I wanted to express myself.
My new job gave me that chance. I may not be some loft attorney or business manager with wealth and fame, but I see that I need neither to accomplish something to be proud of in my life. Even during the high time tax crunch, my work is manageable and rewarding with a steady schedule. In addition, I have been treated very well by my supervisors. This has lead me to find time outside of work to do what I really love. I found time to do more charity work with numerous organizations, including the Jaycees and my church. I have maintained a regular exercise schedule by jogging in my neighborhood. Although I lost touch with most of the people I knew back in college, I have found new and even closer company with the people I met since I started my life.
I simplified my life and I found a way to express my thoughts. For the first time since 2004, I finally found real peace. This has made my parents especially happy even if that has meant giving up the life that I once thought I wanted.
And now…I want to help others find that peace in their own lives.
This is what motivates me to keep up my writing, particularly with the stories I share. My work serves as a constant reminder for me that no matter what I do with my life, I’m not the only one who’s going through some kind of personal struggle. I’m hoping that sharing these stories will bring awareness to the problems that really do face our society today and they bring more good people out to tackle these problems. It makes no difference to me if that help comes in the forms of financial donations or physical labor. I just want to share these stories with the hope that someone out there is reading about them and will offer their help and support in some way.
We all have rainy days and rainy days will come and go for the rest of our lives. It’s impossible to expect that those days will come to a complete end. However, for every harm that’s done to one person, I believe there are ten out there willing to heal the one who’s been hurt. We probably just don’t know because we talk about it enough or know where to go to find out about the good work that’s being done.
Well, here I am, sharing those stories with you all. For these nine months, readers like you have shown that we do have the heart to care about those who have lost their will to live. I have seen it in the comments you leave and the number of times my stories have been shared.
There will always be a day where rain will pour down on us hard, but somewhere out there is someone willing to provide us shelter from the storm. Your continued support has proven to me how true this is and for that you have my deepest thanks.