Life has a funny way of working out.
The other night when I was getting ready for bed, I began to think how I loved writing and questioned why I hadn’t been writing all along. This past year of my life has felt that much more full since recording all of my ideas; I needed this outlet. However, this love of writing is not a new discovery–I just allowed it to get a little dusty, tucked away in the corner of a shelf.
When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I loved reading and creating my own stories, and I knew an author was what I was meant to be.
A few years later I learned a fancier term: journalist. Then I told everyone that I was going to be a journalist. I constantly had to explain myself when people would respond to my desire by whipping out a pretend microphone and the stock sentence, “This is Jennifer Vignola, reporting live from the scene,” –that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to write.
So with the passion for writing that I developed as a child, I entered college without a clue as to my major and eventually became an English teacher. Instead of writing myself, I attempted to teach those who hated the written word to write and then wondered why I didn’t look forward to my job in the morning.
Truth be told, I went years without writing, except for the required essays that I wrote as a student. Somewhere along the way in high school, feeling the pressure of AP classes and competitive gymnastics, I pushed aside my love.
My incessant need to plan every moment of my life got in the way, too. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and that I wanted to stay home when I had children, so I spent hours in the career counselor’s office trying to figure out what career would fit the best with motherhood.
I had so many interests, and there were a plethora of careers that sounded appealing: journalist, lawyer, psychologist, actress–too many to decide. So when I went to college and agonized over my decision that first year, I decided to pick a career that used my passion for literature, forgetting about my passion for writing because I had stopped doing it.
I wanted a career that made a difference in the world, so teaching seemed the best choice. If I decided to continue to work after my children (who didn’t yet exist) were grown, my teaching schedule would coincide easier with their own schedules than another career. The only problem with this plan was that teaching wasn’t my passion--teaching others about one’s passion isn’t the same as doing one’s passion. I had chosen my career based on external factors that hadn’t yet come into play rather than my heart’s desire.
Luckily, I discovered I was in the wrong place before investing too much time in that career. I left teaching and joined the Air Force. For the first time, I looked forward to going to work in the morning. I loved the discipline, the ritual, and the challenge of leading others. But shortly after joining, my husband and I found out we were going to have a baby a little sooner than we had planned, and I knew I was no longer in the right career.
So after three years and three children, my husband bought me a laptop. He knew I had a passion sitting tucked away on a shelf that needed to come down and get a good dusting. And for the last year, I have written, and writing has changed me.
My children are my number one priority right now, but I can still challenge my mind and do what I love while giving them my full attention. Writing is not a career, yet, but I now have a purpose in line with my passion.
I’m not sure why it took 11 years after I graduated from college to figure out what I knew when I was eight. Maybe God had a particular student I was supposed to reach or an airman I needed to lead. Or perhaps God was shaking His head as I meandered along different paths while He gently nudged me back on the one He knew was best.
I’ll never know for sure, but I know now that, for the first time, this course feels right.
What did you want to do when you grew up? Are you doing it now? Share in the comments!