Busted: 4 Myths of Career Changes (and the truth behind each myth)

Well, it's been a month. One month since I officially transitioned over from the world of clinical nursing to a job in editing and writing. In some ways, it has been exactly as predicted: exciting, stressful, and a lot of learning. In other ways, it's been full of surprises and absolutely the opposite from what I expected. As I continue processing this major career shift, here are four myths I believed about career changes that simply are not true.

Adobe stock image

Adobe stock image

Myth #1: It will feel natural.

I suppose because writing and editing feels natural to me, I thought transitioning into a career that utilized them would also feel natural. However, using these skills on the side and creating a job around these skills are completely different. To my surprise, I grieved leaving the hospital, not just because of the wonderful people I knew there, but also because I knew the system. I was familiar and competent with the hospital system; I could navigate it as easily as a millennial navigating a smart phone. It was comfortable. Stepping into the freelancing world, however, felt starkly uncomfortable. I was entering a microcosm filled with abbreviations and acronyms that people actually go to school to learn. As the weeks pass by and I learn more and more, the awkwardness is starting to fade, but I continually have to remind myself it's okay if it doesn't always feel natural to be an editor and writer.

Myth #2: Changing careers is easy.

Um, am I the only person in the young adult population who has bought the lie that changing careers is easy? People throw around the term casually, and they act like it's no big deal millennials tend to career hop. I thought, "If so many people do it, it can't be that hard!" Wrong. I'm actually amazed how career switching tends to have connotations like "irresponsible" or "noncommittal" rather than "resilient" and "gutsy" and "persevering." Changing careers is difficult, takes time, and requires people to accept a steep learning curve. Not only does a new career bring new material to learn, it also includes a new community and specific subculture. I'm having a blast getting to explore this new community, but it definitely is not easy.

Myth #3: You'll automatically be happier if you switch careers.

Since apparently new jobs don't always feel natural and are downright hard sometimes, it makes sense immediate happiness isn't a given with a different career. Now, a few weeks in, I love my job and I am happier, but the emotional lightness didn't come as an automatic perk. In fact, I was pretty stressed out and unhappy at first. Rather, happiness came as a result of being able to cultivate a healthier work environment, which still requires a lot of intentionality and prayer. Once I settled into a routine and chose to trust the Lord with my successes and failures, my happiness meter slowly rose. Perhaps a common flaw in our thinking today is believing it is the job switch itself that brings us happiness. We fail to identify what aspects about the job make us unhappy and how we can address them. Sometimes addressing them means quitting a job (or an entire career field), sometimes it means transferring positions within a company, and sometimes it means changing out expectations, attitudes, or boundaries and staying in that exact same job. For me, happiness didn't come as a result of the writing/editing career itself but from the lower-stress, overall healthier work environment I was able to create.

Myth #4: Following your passion is all that matters.

Passions matter, and they are worth following. I followed one of mine into writing and editing. But more than that, I followed the steps I believed the Lord was leading me to take. So often we have romanticized dreams and ideas of what "following our passions" could mean: traveling the world and working, making it big in the creative world, launching a business, and so much more. While it can be very healthy to dream big and pursue these things, our emotions around our passions can change. Emotions, by nature, ebb and flow. So does motivation. Yet the Lord and His word doesn't. He remains the same, and really, following Him is exponentially more rewarding than following a dream or a passion. Jesus came to extend the greatest invitation we will ever receive: the invitation to follow Him and walk with Him. This, by far, busts the greatest myths of career changes and success I've ever encountered: the most fulfilling choice in the world is not about jobs or money or husbands or children; it's about choosing to accept Jesus' invitation to be in His presence every day of our lives.

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When Failure is a Guarantee

As many of you may know, I am currently in shift toward copyediting and writing as a career and away from nursing (see Why I Quit Full Time Nursing). The transition into the writing world has taken place over the past few weeks, and though I mainly feel peace and excitement about the change, I'd be lying if I told you I'm not nervous.

I am. I'm nervous, and I'm worried, and sometimes I'm overwhelmed.

Adobe stock photo

Adobe stock photo

Yesterday as I drove down the road under the cloudy Texas sky, I thought about my fear of rejection. Over the past few days I've submitted freelance articles and queries to various websites, with the knowledge I will eventually either be rejected or accepted. At one point in life (okay, for most of my life), the possibility of rejection would have prevented me from trying at all. My fear of failure and the belief I had to be the best simply wouldn't allow for such a huge, unnecessary risk. For all those years, failure was not an option.

As I slowed my car down for a red light yesterday, I suddenly realized that still, failure is not an option.

Failure is a guarantee.

Over the years, I've read accounts by writers and bloggers about the rejection letters they received from editors, publishers, magazines, and websites. They described heartbreak and frustration and anger and discouragement, and they also described perseverance and perspective.

As I submit my articles, I know my work will be rejected sometimes (probably more often than not in these beginning stages). It's inevitable. Yet I am learning to maintain my sense of self-worth and identity so I can move past it. I know who I am, and I know my work is not a reflection of my value.

Still, it is disheartening to know failure is a guarantee—and about the only one I could think of that comes with writing. That, and a low budget.

All afternoon, I pondered the change within me from being terrified of failure to accepting it as a part of life. Later that evening during a time of worship with my church small group, I had another realization, just as sudden as the one about failure. I knew in that moment I had to lay down my editing career and writing dreams at Jesus' feet, and I had to leave them there. For the first time in my life, I found how easy it is to become a workaholic (now that "work" was something I loved). I had to invite Jesus into every word I wrote and every article I completed. If I did these things, I knew:

Success was not an option either. It was a guarantee.

Success is living and breathing in the presence of Jesus, holding onto the hem of His robe and offering my talents and gifts at His feet. It is using my work to glorify Him, yes, but more than that it is a continuous, desperate, building desire for more of Him. With this unquenchable thirst for more of Jesus, with Christ as my whole world, there could only be success. There already was success. Perhaps success isn't something attained or accomplished but something as fluid and active as recognizing the presence of God.

Moving and breathing and talking in His presence is success. I have success in my lungs as I breathe and type now because I am breathing and typing with Jesus. Success will never be a thing that can slip from my hands because success is knowing Jesus, and His Spirit lives within me. And if ever I become desperate to grab hold of success again, I have only to remember:

Turn to Jesus, for not just success but life is found in Him.

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The Three Rushing Wolves

These past few weeks have been a flurry of traveling, joy, grief, happy reunions, moving and unpacking, praying about jobs, and learning. Lots and lots of learning.

Several months ago I posted about writer's block and life block, about the correlation between the two. (Remember this great quote by Ally Fallon? "I say that sometimes 'writer's block' is more likely 'life block' and what we really need is to find clarity and direction.")

As I continue this transition process, I keep facing more and more challenges and keep learning more and more. I've slowed down on the blog (as you may have noticed already) and am still in a season where I need time and space to continue readjusting to life in America. Thanks for your understanding and support during this season. Though it may be a little sporadic, I'll post as the writing comes naturally. One of the beauties of having this site is the freedom to wait for the writing to come to me instead of having to manufacture it for a deadline. 

However, I do miss blogging! This week I thought I'd share some writing I did long before I faced writer's block or life block or any kind of blocks aside from the colorful wooden ones.

So here is one of the first stories I ever "wrote." The Three Rushing Wolves reminds me of my passion for writing. It reminds me it's okay to leave the blog dormant for a while so when I do get back to writing, it comes from a place of pure enjoyment, just like this story. Hopefully the words will start coming again soon. (And maybe they'll be a little more profound than the story below!)

Until then, enjoy The Three Rushing Wolves (and no, I don't know why it's titled that!): a book written and illustrated by 5-year-old Allison, just for you!

*Thanks, Mom and Dad, for typing out the story, encouraging my creative pursuits...and teaching me what hydrophobia was at such a young age!

I'm in a season of rest and unwinding. What season are you in? Leave a comment or sent me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!

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When the Words Won't Come

It’s been a little while since I've been able to write a complete post. It’s not that I haven't been trying. The words just won't come. I’ve started writing on half a dozen topics in the past couple weeks, only to minimize the documents on my screen and eventually click out of them one by one, as my passion or conviction or interest fades away and the words stop coming.

This is, I suppose, writer’s block.

A few months ago I was trying to decide if I should jump into an online writing course by author and writing coach Ally Fallon. I don’t usually buy into online courses, much less purely-for-pleasure online courses, but Ally won me over.

You see, Allison used to offer an online course but permanently closed it long before I picked up writing again. Several months ago, I entered my contact info on the "just in case I ever re-open the course" page on her website, and when Ally decided to offer the course again last November, she sent personal emails to everyone who had indicated interest. She asked if I had any questions and invited me to enroll.

I was on the fence about spending money on a writing course (especially since I was about to quit my job), so I asked if the course would help with writer’s block. That was my biggest challenge. As promised, Ally emailed me back the next day. Her response was intriguing. She said, “I say that sometimes ‘writer’s block’ is more likely ‘life block’ and what we really need is to find clarity and direction.”

“Sometimes ‘writer’s block’ is more likely ‘life block’”
    -Allison Fallon

Her insight was spot on and a brand new idea to me. During the months preceding that exchange, I had waves of creativity and seasons of absolutely nothing. When I looked at the whirlwind of lessons I was learning in life during that same time period, I noticed the waves of creativity often came at the tail end of personal breakthroughs. She was right.

Right now, I’m once again in a place where the words just aren’t coming the way I would like. They come in sporadic, short-lived spurts to tease me before dissolving like marshmallows in hot chocolate. They float on top in easy access when I start sipping, but before I'm halfway finished they’ve completely disappeared and can’t be recovered.

However, this time around my perspective has changed (not on putting ‘mallows in my hot chocolate. On writer’s block.).

First, I have a little more grace on myself. Right now it’s not just writer’s block I’m up against; it’s life block. Living life is a big task, after all, and we all need time to figure it out. Though it’s possible to struggle with writer’s block alone and not life block, I find nine times out of ten they occur together. (I use writing as an example, but really the same applies to any creative endeavor.)

Second, I shift from focusing on decreased productivity to focusing on what’s going on inside of me. Sometimes decreased productivity—in writing, teaching, and other parts of life—is a reflection of decreased mental, spiritual, and emotional health. When I’m not feeding my soul, my creative energy also wanes. (This, I believe, signifies something about the connection between the Creator and and our ability to create.) When I get too caught up in churning out enough quantity or quality, I miss the root cause of the creativity famine. I miss the life block.

Though it’s tempting to file this chapter of my life away along with my unfinished blog posts, instead I want to hit pause and look around in this moment in life. This in-between, stuck-and-don’t-know-how-to-get-out, feel-like-a-stalled-vehicle moment.

When I stop in this moment, I notice how impatient I am. I’d rather arrive at the revelation or epiphany marking the end of life block and writer’s block and any other kind of block and move on with life. I’ve tried everything: talking about it, reading books about getting unstuck, reading books completely unrelated to distract myself, texting friends about it, and praying about it. Yet try as I might, I cannot force it. Breakthrough simply cannot be forced.

Whether we like it or not, we all spend some portion of our lives in this place of in-between and waiting for breakthrough. Maybe not a huge portion (though currently it feels like it to me), and maybe not an exciting portion, but a portion nonetheless. And since this blog is all about writing about what our stories are really like, this seems to fit. It’s always nice to know someone else is (or has been) in the same spot we are, even if it’s a rather dull and irritating spot.

So this post is for all those who have waited for breakthrough. It’s for those who are still waiting patiently. It’s for those who are frustrated and worn out and are trying to force breakthrough. It’s for those who face life block at any time, for any amount of time. It's for all of us. When we  pause for a moment—just for a moment—and look around, we realize:

It’s okay to feel stuck. It happens to us all. 

Our souls and hearts and minds may need some extra care during this season.

We’re not alone. Plenty of people around us are at points in their journeys where they feel stuck. 

When we look around ourselves for a moment—just for a moment—we find a strange, unique sense of community with all those who share the experience of life block. We find a strange, unique sense of community with everyone. 

In this community, we can wait with each other and commiserate together and encourage one other. And when the life block—and writer’s block—finally ends…we can celebrate each breakthrough together.

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