Ever since I could hold a pen and a notebook in my hands, I was writing. I recall that happening when I was about 5 years old. My words were incredibly simple like I love this one – or I don’t love that one. But writing was always a way to access my emotions and to make emotion real. It was a way of seeing and telling a story, mostly my own.
During my school years I excelled at languages and eventually I pursued a degree in English and Psychology. English literature grabbed me, but so did the desire to help people, more specifically I felt the longing to work with abused women, a dream I nurtured as a young teen. I started working as a trauma counsellor and women abuse therapist but there was always a void within me. An unfulfilled longing. A dream unseen or unknown.
That dream awakened in 2010 when I signed up to do my honours in counselling therapy. At the time I was happy in my role as therapist and my husband and I had the previous year, started a biblical teaching ministry where we taught the Bible to small groups and leaders. Life seemed headed in a certain direction, until I took a short course called Bright Star. It was an elective as part of my honours program and it got deep in to the purpose of life and discovering your values and true calling, in that course I discovered my calling to be a writer. A writer who would use her voice to empower women to make significant and sometimes hard choices and changes in their lives. It was a shock, as I thought I had my career as a therapist all figured out. That same year, I started writing briefs and media articles for the charity organisation where I volunteered as a trauma worker. Doors swung wide open in unexpected places, in that same year I had published articles in magazines and my work as a freelance journalist began.
“Today, I have built my writing work on telling stories, the forgotten stories of today’s women, as well as history’s forgotten women”
Over the years I combined psychology and journalism in to a unique writing tool, where I could write about important issues relating to women. In 2016 I signed with a large publishing house who published my first historical novel called Yehudit, Chosen by God. In 2017, it won the Desmond Tutu – Gerrit Brand Award for its strong stand on justice for women. In 2018 I released my second book which brought to life a strong middle eastern queen who ruled powerfully in a male dominated world. Today, I have built my writing work on telling stories, the forgotten stories of today’s women, as well as history’s forgotten women. I also write about social justice issues relating to issues of women abuse, gendercide, female ritual servitude, gender equality in theology and many more. My husband and I were ordained as ministers in 2014 and I completed my master’s degree in divinity. We run a ministry that focuses on teaching, training and mentoring, as well as outreach work in to communities and countries of need.
Through writing, advocating and speaking, I wear quite a few hats and fulfill a number of roles. I’m a bit of a generalist and a specialist, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. My role as a female minister means I am breaking glass ceilings in representing women in a field that is still very male – centred and as a religious leader I am privileged to hear the stories of many. Stories individuals wish to tell and share with the world. On a trip to Ghana in 2014, it was there in the midst of the beautiful women I met, where I first heard about female ritual servitude. The act of sacrificing your daughter for the sins of the father, an ongoing ritual still taking place today. By writing about such realities, I desire to create awareness and to hopefully impact change through working as a writer and an advocate.
My High Points
Writing my first Novel! I never thought I had the patience to write such a long piece of work.
Being a Ted Talk Speaker in 2018!
Winning the Desmond Tutu – Gerrit Brand Award
Completing my Masters degree
Having my own teaching series on Radio
Being interviewed about my own life story and work across different platforms
Some Lessons I have Learned
Creative careers can be hard at best due to the reality that as creatives we are birthing something new in to the world. When you give something new, you can easily be judged or disliked. I never took rejection letters for my articles seriously. I knew it meant nothing about my writing or my work, it just meant what I had written was perhaps, not intended for the individual who was reading it. And that’s a lesson I want to share with young people, don’t take rejection letters seriously. See it as a way to grow. Use it as a stepping stone.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth. As young people, we have passion, zeal and purpose, we have to continue to chase the lion of our dreams. We have to believe in ourselves, look ourselves in the mirror and appreciate what we bring to the world.
“I thought I had to be either a journalist or a psychologist. Now I am combining elements of both as a career and I’ve added more on top of that”
As a millennial, I don’t agree with all the negativity spoken about my generation. One of the lessons I have learned about being a millennial and working for social justice is that millennials are sensitive to social issues. Many of my millennial friends are involved with social justice work and they are driving change in many different areas. I want to encourage my fellow millennials to know that we are the ones driving change and we can achieve our dreams of freedom, equality and justice.
Don’t be static. What I mean is that you often have to discover your career and unique path as your journey through life. I thought I had to be either a journalist or a psychologist. Now I am combining elements of both as a career and I’ve added more on top of that. More in terms of education and skills development. Don’t assume all career paths are set in stone, change them, knock them around and find the one which works for you.
Take Risks! Nothing is going to happen, if you don’t knock at doors. When I first started as a freelance writer, I would literally bug editors until they read my stories. Turned out most of the editors I annoyed actually published my articles and paid me for those stories. Knock on doors, have a professional website made for yourself, get professional photos taken, dress up, take part and be tenacious.
Some of my favorite quotes that help me through Life
“I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – Carl Jung
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there” – Vince Lombardi
“And though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare
“Go to where the silence is, and say something” – Amy Goodman
“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of this world” – Walt Whitman
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” – Bible
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” – Martin Luther King
This post was written by Lauren Jacobs. You can contact her on her website: laurenjacobs.co.za
You can also follow her on instagram: @profuselyprofound