I’ve probably told this LONG STORY before..but a question asked on Words of Margaux made me think of my personal journey all over. Still a work in progress..
When I graduated high school, I actually signed up to go into the Army. The military branches were calling me, my parents quite a bit. Because in high school, students have to take the ASVAB test. Not an IQ test, but..I do remember a lot of diagrams. One section was a bunch of gears mushed together and you have to figure out how they turn to get from one end to the other.
Anyway, I don’t know what my overall score was, but they were calling. I got weighed in. Met my Instructor. My Instructor came to the house and had a lengthy chat with my mom and stepdad. Ultimately, I decided not to go into the Army. Why? Control.
I had just turned 18 years old. My mom was very strict on us growing up. I felt like I needed space and wanted more control of my life. Problem was, I had no clue what I wanted to do. My mom made sure I went to class, got good grades, ate properly. I was not a competitive, ambitious person. Pretty lazy, actually…
Which isn’t good when you launch out to face the world on your own. My early 20s were spent bouncing from warehouse job to warehouse job. After a few months, I’d quit and move on to another job. I think I went through maybe…15 to 17 different jobs. Yeah. It was that pathetic.
And yes, eventually, companies started looking at my resume saying, “you are not dependable!” By that time, I was older, slightly wiser by wanting to do better with my life. However, the damage had already been done.
In 2007, I finally found steady work shipping dog biscuits. Don’t ask. Pack the boxes. Wrap the pallets. Use a fork lift if I had to. Long days..up to 12 hours during the busy season. I wanted to kill myself…sometimes literally. Because when all you’re doing is shipping dog biscuits, you have a ridiculous amount of time to think about all the mistakes you made to get to that point Every Single Day.
All along the way, starting with New Year’s 2001, I used poetry to vent. Random papers, warehouse order forms from work. One day, I finally glanced at my work station at the growing pile of poetry I wrote on the back of whatever was nearest to me. Hmm..I wonder if I can do something with these.
But I had zero confidence in myself. Which is why I tell people you can have a strong belief..faith in God, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going anywhere. I was so used to being down, I thought the level of success I wanted was only for other people.
I needed to change my mentality. I needed to change my surroundings. I needed to get out of that comfort zone for lack of a better term. But some things I couldn’t leave behind even after moving over 2,000 miles away from home.
It’s still tough to find steady work. Some say I’m over-qualified now after they view the photo portfolio I’ve built up since graduating college. Some say I don’t have enough experience working for large corporations. And I remember one Interviewer gave me this odd look. She asked, “You know you’ll have to start at the bottom?” ..Yes. Which is better than nothing.
Another Interviewer, we talked for over 30 minutes while looking over my work. We got along. I did not get the job. He says, “Eric…you should have a business for yourself.” I immediately started thinking, I’m gonna need Product Liability Insurance, a Marketing budget, and so on. I need more money for that.
Again, still writing in the journal, my blog..when I got home. Next, I decided, okay, I’m gonna try simple stuff again. One example, I applied for a Sales Associate position at a major department store. Long application process, then you have to answer the 20 to 30-minute questionnaire. Fine. I do all of that. They email me back with glowing reviews of how I did. But did I get the job? No.
Instead, a few days later I get an email from the corporate office inviting me to sell some of my artwork through their online store. But that means I need to buy all the Inventory, insure it, and ship it to them, so… (breathe)
Okay, it’s fine. I began uploading my work to job sites and applying for more company positions out of state. Do you know what started happening? Couple examples. I got an offer to write a screenplay from someone in Canada, which doesn’t pay right away. I got another offer to exhibit my artwork in Milan, Italy, which I couldn’t afford to take advantage of.
My conversations with God turned into, ‘Lord, I can’t talk to You right now. I almost had my student loans under control and now they’re back out of control. I’m going to lose the apartment. And none of my previous clients have projects right now.’ I couldn’t pray, couldn’t force myself to read a scripture..
Then, middle of last month I get another email. Yes, another gallery, this time in Lisbon, Portugal. I know. Never been there. The world is a lot smaller thanks to technology. I sent them a few samples like they requested. About a week ago, they sent me a contract. Can’t afford it. Last straw. I started writing and working on new projects just to get away. I was just in a bad place coming into this week.
I don’t want to get ultra-religious all of a sudden on you guys who have read this far. I will say that when God knows I’m not in the mood to talk, He gives me these little nudges to do certain things. Yesterday..on Wednesday nights my hometown church has Bible Study, which I loved going to because it turned out to be so cool.
Anyway, I can watch all the services because they stream them online. So, I tuned in for the usual 90-minute time slot. I don’t know why I’m surprised. It’s like the message being taught last night was specifically for me. I was getting teary-eyed. The main point was kinda funny, but true. The Speaker said, “I can’t explain why it seems like God moves so slowly, at times. But when He does move, He moves suddenly. Quickly!”
He challenged us to think back over our personal experiences. How many times I’ve been on the edge of disaster and all of sudden, I’m okay. He told us about his life experiences..when he was stressing out, time was running out, and all of a sudden..everything was okay. Problems resolved.
It resonated with me. Then, he challenged us to fast along with praying. I hate fasting because I get the case of the munchies quite often during the day. But..emotionally, I was on edge so, I went along with it. Results?
I don’t know how to explain it. I’m calm, now. I wrote down notes in my journal of steps I need to take to grow the business more efficiently and find bigger clients. Which will help me pay for these exhibition opportunities. Sent out a bunch of proposals to potential clients last night. And I’ll do more of that after a nap. I haven’t gone to sleep yet and all the light coming through the windows is a good indication that the sun is up.
I’m focused, again. Maybe the perception is Christians have all the answers and we never find ourselves feeling around in the dark for a way out. Nope. I just live here. Still human. And when I have these moments of trying to ignore God, He.. He keeps coming back. He never leaves!
I have lived long enough to understand, when I have a gut feeling about something, go with it. Not an exact science, huh? I don’t know how all of this will work out. I only know I’m supposed to be on this road getting prepared for an opportunity that hasn’t shown up yet. But when it does show up, I have to be ready at that moment.
That’s all I got.
Because if you start preparing for an opportunity the moment it arrives, you’re too late. So, if it’s a story, an artwork, a song…matters not. Do it now..so it will be ready then. If you use right now to simply complain about a moment not being here, the clock is ticking and you can’t get lost time back.
Trust me. I tried.
Well, I’ve done more than enough damage around here. I didn’t mean to write this much. (shrug) Now, I would like waffles & tea, please. 🙂