Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Why don't you get a real job?
Welcome Sheila Lowe, our guest blogger.
Sheila Lowe is a court-qualified handwriting expert and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and the Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting Mystery series. Check out her sites: www.claudiaroseseries.com and www.sheilalowe.com
When I first started making a living at graphology—that’s the generic term for handwriting analysis—I heard that phrase a lot.
My interest in graphology began long, long ago and far away—1967 to be exact, when my then-boyfriend’s mother, who had read a book or two on the subject, wrote several pages of analysis, telling me what my handwriting said about me. According to her, I had “an even balance between the emotions and the mind, a mixture of caution and critical faculty,” and “appears well poised, but is a victim of indecisive moods.” Wow! I thought. Someone who understands me at last.
And when I went to pick up some groceries for my mother and there, on a rack at the checkout line was a twenty-five cent Dell pocket book on handwriting analysis, my future was sealed.
That Dell book was followed by numerous trips to the library and bookstores, where I borrowed and bought every book on handwriting that I could find, and studied my little heart out.
When I went to parties, I usually found myself ensconced on the couch, surrounded by girls eager to hear about their handwriting and, of course, their boyfriends’. As I was fairly shy myself (my own analysis had described me as having “great reserve in conversation”), my newfound knowledge turned out to be a door-opener and made me more popular. I quickly learned that people love to hear about themselves, and they want the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly. In fact, if I didn’t tell them something negative, they wouldn’t believe me at all.
So, the years went by and this hobby became a passion and later, an avocation. But it wasn’t until some twenty-two years later that I decided this was how I wanted to make my full time living. By that time, I was raising three small kids on my own (one with some serious problems), had just lost my job, carried a mountain of debt, and then my car died an agonizing death. But sometimes the Universe gives us a prod, and for some reason it was then that I decided I was born to analyze handwriting. Go figure.
That’s about when I started hearing those words from so-called friends: “You can’t make a living as a graphologist. Why don’t you get a real job?” Well, I’d had “real” jobs before and I hated them. Hated working regular hours (I was always five minutes late, no matter what time I left home); hated working for someone else. To give you an example, when I worked at JC Penney in the women’s “foundation” department, two older ladies complained about me because I wasn’t friendly enough. Well, hey, my handwriting said I had great reserve—I was just being true to type. Okay, so I wasn’t cut out to work in a department store. Or in market research. Or in the corporate world, as it turns out. But analyzing handwriting, which really means entering the fascinating world of understanding what makes others tick—and being free to do it at midnight, or whenever else I felt like working—that was heaven.
It took a year of working temp jobs on the side until I could establish my practice, but since 1989, I’ve been my own boss, doing something that helps other people, and holds my interest. So, for anyone who has ever wanted to turn their hobby into a career, I’m here nineteen years later to urge you to Go for it.
I have this firm belief that success happens when preparation meets opportunity–I don’t know who first coined that phrase, but it’s been true for me. If there’s something you really want to do, refuse to hear the naysayers who are advising you to be a secretary or a nurse or a schoolteacher or a computer programmer, which are fine jobs, if that’s what you want to do, and follow your passion. It might not be easy, but if you do the preparation, which means learning your craft, then make the commitment and hold firm the vision of where you want to go with it, and you will certainly succeed. Then, when someone suggests you go get a “real” job, you can smile sweetly back at them and say, “I already have one.”
But guess what: after writing more than ten-thousand handwriting analyses, I was ready to kill someone. So I began writing a murder mystery series—about a handwriting expert, of course. It’s something I always wanted to do, and now, handwriting analysis has become my day job.
How’s that for irony?