Channeling Your Passion
This is a subject I hold so near and dear to my heart, because for a long time in my young adult life, I felt like I worked without passion. When you’re growing up, parents and teachers tell you that your possibilities are endless (we, at least I hope your parents and teachers also told you that...if not, sorry to bring up sore memories, but I believe in YOU!). As a small child, I remember thinking that I was going to be an artist, at least, that’s the first career I remember (after being told that “princess is not a real career choice in the States”). My mom and teachers, other adults, everyone told me I could do it! My mom was rather artsy herself and let me practice painting and coloring, crafting of allllllll kinds.
Fast forward to sometime in middle school when the “real” career choices are getting more apparent, but still, the educational requirements are somewhat unfathomable. I was going to be a marine biologist, maybe double major in astronomy, because why not?! I lived a little fuller when I was closer to the ocean! I loved the creatures of the deep blue! I also thought it was so dreamy to know so much about stars and the universe. It was all I’d ever wanted, until reading one day that marine biologists are not paid well, and jobs for astronomy majors are few and far between. Rats! Back to the drawing board.
By the time I graduated from high school, I was no longer thinking of my adult life and career in 20 year segments. I read somewhere that the average American changes careers (not jobs… careers) SEVEN times before finding the one they’ll retire from. Well that sounded better. Less pressure to immediately know what the hell I was going to do with my next 50 working years. My goals as a young adult were simple:
Find a job I can do while going to school.
Move out into my own place, because rules sucked (haha, oh to be young).
Go to school without failing classes miserably.
Maintain a social life, sleep schedule, but also make and save money (again, oh to be young).
Figure the rest out later.
Simple as it was, it was not simple at all. I figured I had two full prerequisite years of college before I needed to hammer down a major. I went in and declared myself a Psychology major so my counselor would leave me alone, and enrolled in my freshman year of classes. I got a job (through family ties) at a psychiatric hospital working night shifts (not as creepy as it sounds, the job was an absolute DREAM, paid well, and I could do homework at my desk when we didn’t have patients), and I moved out of my parents’ house and in with my then boyfriend, Nik. Together, we were able to make ends meet for a while, and goals 1 through 3 were moving right along. Things changed when Nik was let go from his retail job for (of all things) low sales (still makes me laugh because he’s a KILLER salesman), and I was laid off (with about half of the staff) when the hospital lost it’s contract with the county mental health medical coverage. Uh oh. Biiiiiig uh oh. We’d thankfully worked long enough to collect unemployment, and though it was only a portion of our original wages, we set out to find new jobs.
In this gap of employment, Nik found his career. He studied for, took, and passed his Real Estate Salesperson Licensing Exam on the first try. Hungover. Sleep deprived. The day after Halloween. Some people are just good test takers I guess! I applied at a ton of receptionist style jobs, eager to get my foot into a business setting, because I’d learned a lot of office etiquette through the near year I’d spent at the hospital, but I wasn’t getting a call back from anyone! Nik was blooming into a beautiful little flower of a salesperson, and he hung his license with a local Coldwell Banker office where he found one of his first mentors, his broker. His broker paired him with an experienced salesperson who assisted him through his first few transactions, and we were out of the red and making money again! Well, Nik was. I was starting to get anxious. I started applying a retail jobs, though I had no experience there, fast food, and grocery stores, but it was 2011 and the economy wasn’t yet fully recuperate from the crash in 2007, so many places were not hiring, or weren’t in a position to work around a college student’s full time schedule. Though Nik never made me feel inadequate, I was starting to feel like I wasn’t helping in our household. I took some temp jobs and fumbled my way through the year making whatever I could until I was able to change my school schedule.
Finally, the school session I was in ended, and I was able to work my schedule around a job… if I could find one quick enough. On a whim, I started applying to jobs I wasn’t really qualified for. I didn’t lie, I sent a true resume and cover letter, but decided that I was going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I could work a “big-girl” job dammit! About a week of this went by, and I got a call back, finally, from a local oilfield company looking for a receptionist and administrative assistant. I interviewed, was called back the next day for a second interview, drug tested, and hired all within 24 hours! We were back on track! I settled my school schedule around my new hours, and within a few months, I was taken under a coworker’s wing to learn Accounting and Human Resources, two things that came in extremely handy later in life.
I stayed with this small business a little over a year, when I derailed my own career train, and decided accounting was boring! I was no longer a psych major, I’d changed to business, but for the love of GOD, not accounting! Accountants were old, or nerdy, or boring, right?! Well, hindsight is always 20/20, but either way, I’d gone on to bigger and better things. Nik’s career had taken off, and he was a day-in and day-out true hustler. Real estate was a bustling booming business, and he was in the dead center of an investment rich city, with cash offers pouring in, and the spoils of those deals raining down upon our little family. Thank god, because I took a hell of a pay cut to chase my new dream: Mortgages. Well, that sounds more enticing than accounting doesn’t it?! Surprisingly, working in home loans was a freaking blast. The fast-paced real estate world was a new breath of fresh air, and I was hungry to get our household income back to an equal level. There was money to be made in real estate, but you had to know how to take it! My boss taught me some absolutely unforgettable management skills, time blocking, and how to handle all sorts of different stressors from angry realtors cursing you to the moon and back, to finding out your client is married after 60 days of her telling you she wasn’t (my loan peeps will understand; this is detrimental to a loan). I was with imortgage for nearly 3 years, when I just couldn’t find it in myself anymore. I wasn’t a salesperson. I was a decent manager, but I was best at the things I didn’t get to do anymore, the ‘low rung on the totem pole’ marketing projects just excited me in ways I can’t explain.
Why did I tell you my entire professional life story? Well, I’d gone full circle, hadn’t I? Five year old me, “ I want to be an artist!”... 24 year old me, “I want to create content for marketing that is both eye-catching, pleasing to the senses, and exciting!”... I wanted to be a form of an artist all over again! I’d figured it out! My true calling! I mean, I’d figured it out literally 20 years prior but I was listening to it now!
I jumped ship one last time when Nik opened his own companies, and after we got engaged, I realized that what was his would soon be mine, and I wanted to help support that any way I could. He’d been the go-getter with a patient head on his shoulders while I chased my tail in circles for years, the least I could do was offer my experience and help in whatever way that would be useful. I took over all marketing at our real estate and property management companies, and Ascend was getting quite the face lift. Unfortunately, the HR and Accounting new hire didn’t show up to work one day, and basically fell off the surface of the earth. I had experience enough, and I slipped into the position and made it functional. Nik and I had to redo a lot of the groundwork for both human resources and accounting to be accurate and helpful to the company and employees, and we also had to reevaluate our relationship at work, but that’s another post for another time.
This part of my career track took a turn in and of itself. This was a necessity that both Nik and I recognized for the survival of the companies, and in time, we’d find someone to take it over so I could get back to the marketing aspects and chasing my own little side hobbies. In the meantime, I was finding fulfillment in cooking and learning more about cooking and baking techniques. Filling up journals left and right with big dreams to have a blog, and eventually a book one day. I always liked taking pictures and documenting the beautiful things in my everyday life, but I was so meek and even embarrassed when it came to others seeing what I was working on personally, that I rarely even shared these dreams with Nik. I had a growing list of personal goals in my phone, a notepad full of ideas and topics and things I want to do someday. These were just hobbies, nothing I was going to seriously pursue… right?
When we found out I was pregnant in March, a ticking time bomb was planted in our HR/Accounting department that would only mean we’d have to hire someone to take it over full-time. Nik and I discussed a time table that would allow me plenty of time to hire (and even fire and rehire if needed) for the position, and to train like crazy before the pregnancy brain set in. Thankfully, we ended up with only a few bad eggs to deal with, and the position weeded them out quickly, because it was a demanding job. Our bookkeeper now is a fabulous fit for the job, and she took over with a sass that I feel like was a requirement for success. The best part was that she was basically fully trained by her fourth month, and I was able to focus again on the office marketing. I blew through our 3 page list in less than a month. Holy crap. I was in a prime position, with Niks support, to channel all my creative resources into THIS. These words you’re reading right now. Surreal right? Well, maybe not for you, but for me, this is crazy!
For the first time, I am sharing images, words, recipes and so much more that I feel like I’ve had welled up inside me for years! Even on my days that I feel like I can’t put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keystrokes, I sit down and 3500 words pour out of me like nothing. My only regret is that I wish I’d started sooner. That little voice in the back of my head that told me for years where to go and what to do was pushed to the side by personal insecurity. I feel more fulfilled than I have in years, and sure, I’ll give it to you that I’m in a prime position right now to focus on this blog, but even a side hustle or hobby would have given me the same mental check mark and self esteem boost to return to my mundane day job. My advice, through this whole personal journey, is not to jump around career after career chasing what might be a good fit for you, but rather to recognize a ‘well paying, adequate effort’ trade off in a day job. That means you aren’t so dog tired that you ride home in silence to stare at the walls when you do finally make it home, heat up your sad TV dinner, and watch a rerun of The Office before you set your alarm and do it all over again. If you have a job that leaves you feeling like you can still care about a side project, and you get paid well or have benefits that add to your compensation enough to make you feel partially fulfilled, for the love of god, stay there! That’s a good job people! It wouldn’t be called work if it was all fun!
Find your passion. It’s in there somewhere. You might be ignoring it. You might be concealing it. You might not have any idea what that is right now, but you have one. I’m not saying quit your day job. I’m not saying jump ship and desert the life you have to start anew. No. I am telling you to take small steps, set micro goals, and achieve those (at first). If you want to be a chef, sign up for a class. If you can’t afford an in person class, find one online (Groupon is great!). If that’s too much still, sign up for Blue Apron, or Sun Basket, or one of those self prepared meal delivery places, and just start cooking! See if that satisfies some internal part of you, and take it from there. If you end up hating it, no harm, no foul. You then decide you like doing makeup. Watch some YouTube tutorials. Film one yourself and upload it. Too much? Do your friend’s makeup for her special event coming up. Again, try walking in the shoes you think you want to wear before you take off running. Some are a great fit, some are painful, but it’s best to learn this lesson with a good paying day job, even if it’s not the main source of your happiness in life.
Someday, I hope to look back on this post and say, “wow, that was before we’d made any money on the blog”. It’s a cool dream, but I’m not being unrealistic. I want this blog to be many things before it becomes monetized at all. I was real, true depth in each post. I want an audience of people who click with us, and trust us to provide unbiased information and opinions. I want to share parts of our lives with people just like us who think they ‘can’t’ do something, and I hope to tell you that you ‘can’! No matter what it is that you want to do, I want you to try. Give it a test drive. Dip your toes into the unknown water and report back. Does repurposing antique furniture make you feel all gold and shiny inside? Well honey, you best get to yard sailing and find a good piece to redo! Does interior design tickle your fancy? I want to see you decorate one hell of a front porch this fall! Do you just want to learn how to make bath bombs? There’s a Youtube video for that. But try! Report back. I like hearing that you’re doing something to give yourself fulfillment. I gave you 2600+ words today. What did you do to give yourself some feel good vibes?