During my early high school years, I planned to go on to art school after graduation. My dad was an amazing artist, both a painter and a graphic artist, and really a Jack-of-all-trades. He was self-employed and I wanted to be just like him — except for the part where he was always struggling to find work.
Money was always tight during my teen years, so I worked after school and on weekends, cleaning houses and babysitting to earn my own spending money. Sadly, it was the lack of funding that prevented me from going on to college and pursuing my dreams. It seemed way beyond my reach, even though my art teacher encouraged me to apply for the scholarship they presented to a promising art student each year. She was sure I would win the award. Reluctantly, I told her I was not going to college. It really broke my heart, and she was disappointed for me, but I told her I planned to work and perhaps go to art school in a year or two.
It was clear though that the Lord had other plans for me. I was married the following year, and five years later we started our family. I have no regrets, and my pathway in life has taken me through a variety of jobs without any formal education. Each one taught me new skills and became a stepping stone to the next opportunity.
I learned newspaper layout and design and also had my first article published in The Christian Science Monitor where I worked for five years. Then my husband and I decided to open our first retail (resale) children’s clothing store, and later opened a second location before selling both when we moved to Virginia. Throughout that time I continued freelance writing and also took a correspondence course in writing for children and teens. I was surprised to discover that my love for art had been surpassed by my love for writing.
Over the next 20 years, I worked as a managing editor for a parenting magazine, edited children’s books, wrote for a marketing and PR company, worked in an optometry office, and now I am the Office Manager at my church, utilizing every skill I have accumulated since leaving high school. All this without a single college credit!
Every now and then I wonder “what if . . . ” but then I realize how blessed I am to have experienced so many different jobs that have enriched my life and developed my skills. I have embraced each one with gratitude, joy and excitement, and God has rewarded me generously with new friendships and marketable skills. What more could I want?
Years ago I did take one watercolor class at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston just for fun, but I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since. Will there come a day when I pursue my art again? Perhaps. But if not, I will always feel blessed to have found so many other gifts I never knew I had.