Hey, you. =)
Are you in a season of change? Are you thinking about doing something you’ve never done before? Are you conflicted or nervous? Are you battling doubt or fighting the feeling of being comfortable? Deep down, can you admit you’re settling?
I find I have more strength to do something “hard” when I have someone to go through it with or when someone else gives me a boost of encouragement or their own stamp of approval.
Cue Tiny Potato entrance.
I wish I could say, “I’m always, 100% confident and I never need validation or reassurance or even a security blanket!” The truth is, I am human and I am so far from perfect, I sometimes ooze doubt or anxiety. The area I most experience that fear and doubt in is my career.
I began working in Corporate America when I was in college. Throughout the last ten years of my life, I earned money by learning a process, getting good at it, connecting with others and using those skills, connections and my natural drive to be the best to succeed and grow in each role I took on. While this produced solid results, steady income and health/retirement benefits, career advancement (IN Corporate America), it resulted a really weird dichotomy in me. It also produced chronic stress, anxiety and depression; a cycle I’m still working on ending.
Here’s some background.
As a little girl, I thought I would grow up to be President of the United States of America and absolutely love my job. I also thought I would fly fighter jets in the military; the military turned me down several times. In the meantime, I did what I could to be independent. As soon as I could earn money, I did. In my single-digit years, I made a deal with my Padrino and secured $5 for every “A” I earned on my report cards. By ten years of age, I made a deal with Tio Chuito and cleaned his house for a whopping $5 per room. At fourteen, I convinced my doctor to hire me to help him organize his files at $9 an hour. I loved each challenge and I worked in order to see the return. I saved my earnings for specific purchase goals or for whenever I “needed” it. I didn’t always LOVE what I was doing, but I loved who I did it for and with, AND I appreciated the income it brought.
Working in Corporate America quickly taught me how stressful work could be. Some days I worked with people who completely disrespected and degraded me (gotta love working in customer service roles), while other days I spent thirteen straight hours working with really lovely people. I felt run down and struggled to muster up the energy for simple things like having a conversation with a friend or putting away my clothes after disrobing each night. I loved that I was good…GREAT, actually…at learning a process someone else created; a process that helped to make tons of money for whoever ran the company or owned the company. Being a top performer allowed my ego to really thrive. However, I knew I didn’t love what I was doing. I was spending 40-60 hours a week doing a job that just didn’t feed my soul. Some people are okay with that and I respect that! We all have our reasons for staying in situations that may not be what we “want” or what we perceive to be rewarding.
I’m a positive patty…I think I’ve said that already.
No matter what, I always (really, ALWAYS) see the bright side, even if that side is 1mm long or wide. Here’s the thing…I seek meaning in life; I always have! What, then, was the meaning of my working in these roles; roles were not feeding my passions, were draining my energy and were contributing to unhealthy cycles of depression and anxiety. (Unfortunately, this last sentence is really true for me [and so many others, I know]. It’s not something I share often, but I’m no longer ashamed of that because I am owning it and really trying to change that!) I guess I fell victim to the comfort and security working for a huge corporation provides. The meaning of life was, “hey, Erika, your bills are paid and you can afford a pretty comfortable, modest lifestyle.”
It was supposed to be temporary.
Life is so exhilarating at times, and, other times, it feels really mundane. There were times when was grateful I didn’t have much going on. (That is no longer the case for me. There’s so much going on now that little babes is here!) There were also times when I was so excited for the change(s) happening in life. Similarly, there were times when I was dissatisfied with the lack of excitement in my life and other times when I was completely overwhelmed by all the change occurring.
The desire for balance is so real when it kicks in.
Ultimately, insanity has to come to an end. Fear can only drive so many decisions. For me, it drove a lot of decisions; decisions to settle for a steady salary with benefits and a set schedule in a safe and conveniently located office. Those things aren’t bad; a LOT of people like, even LOVE that. (No judgment here. Whatever floats your boat, right?) However, it just wasn’t…isn’t how I want to live my life. Part of me suffered for a long time, but part of me believed and looked forward to something bigger coming out of it.
When is the right time for change or hard decisions?
I still work in Corporate America, but I dislike it less. I would like to think I’ll be out of there soon, but I simply can’t predict the future. It’s been ten years and I am so grateful for the opportunities and friendships I gained. All of the experience helped me evolve into the me I am today. I will always put my ALL into whatever I do. I just need to do more for where I WANT to be. (Cue Donnell Jones.) I’m working so hard on turning my passions into career opportunities, but there is still fear and doubt in my mind. I lack faith where there is fear. I lack God-fidence where there is doubt. I know this and I’m not proud of it. However, as a woman who follows Christ, I believe there is a larger plan and that all of this time I spent and continue to invest in Corporate America was not…is not in vain. I believe there is a lot of ahead of me and I continue to ask for increased faith and courage to take steps in the direction of the passions tucked away in my heart. The changes are already underway, as I believe the idea to create the #frwdmvmnt365pilot was an idea the Lord gave me; a blessing from God and one that would jump-start my journey to the pursuit of a fulfilling career that would, eventually, allow me to contribute to the financial needs of our household.
What is your why?
I had to make money somehow and Corporate America let me do that comfortably; I got a paycheck every two weeks and I received healthcare from great doctors or dentists for just a few dollars (co-pays, deductibles, you know the deal). That hasn’t changed. Today, I have to feed myself and contribute to the stability of the household I share with my husband. I have to help care for and afford essentials for our family. Income is a NECESSITY in today’s world. How I earn that income is the choice I have to really consider. It’s a choice that dictates the sacrifices and battles I need to be bold enough to choose and face; struggles I need to be strong enough to continue to fight through; sacrifices I need to be patient enough to endure.
Maybe none of that resonates with you. Its okay. That’s just MY struggle.
We may not have that struggle in common. Your struggle may be related to your personal relationships; your romantic relationships; your sexual identity; your spiritual or religious beliefs; your addiction(s); your physical or mental health; your investments; your bad habits; your relationship with yourself. The bottom line is, we are ALL struggling with SOMETHING. What that struggle looks like and how long we struggle for is far more within our control than we may want to admit. If FEAR is crippling your [inevitable] journey to a season of change, rest assured, I KNOW, firsthand, what you are experiencing. WE DON’T NEED TO REMAIN IN A STATE OF FEAR. I’ll say that again in a different way: FEAR DOES NOT SERVE US BECAUSE WE NEED AND DESERVE TO GROW. I no longer want to be a slave to fear. I made that decision a while ago and I began seeing change immediately.
Just start, already.
There is hardly ever a “right time” for anything in life. If you need to leave a relationship or a job or whatever isn’t helping you grow or contributing to your happiness, start walking away. Your graduation from that season may not happen overnight, but the second you BEGIN moving forward, you build momentum by doing SOMETHING and that something leads to change. It’s taken nearly ten years to just START taking #Frwdmvmnt to the next level, all because I was too scared of losing the stability Corporate America provided. I’m not leaving my corporate job tomorrow or maybe even any time in the next few years, but I’m starting to pour more of myself into what I KNOW I love.
Almost done…I promise!
If you got this far, thank you for reading and sharing in my experience. Your attention feeds a really special connection between us, so thanks for tuning in and allowing me to pour my heart out…AND DROP A NOTE BELOW so I know you stopped by! Vulnerability is one of my strengths and I’m grateful there are so many people who safeguard what I share and allow me to also participate as a supporter of the struggles they are facing. A very huge and special THANK YOU to those of you who opted to work with me this year. You helped pour more joy into my heart and fueled the passion in my soul. I have tears in my eyes thinking of the last nine months. I’m honestly in the baby, baby, baby phase of Frwdmvmnt’s development, but I’m SO GRATEFUL there is growth and that you’re apart of it. Thank you!