This is Part 5 of a 5 part Blog series.

If you haven’t read the first four parts, click the links below:

Part 1 – In Spite of the Unfortunate Events

Part 2 – How I Became a Ward of the Court

Part 3 – How I Survived the Death of my Parents

Part 4 – 3 Lessons I Learned When my Brother went to Prison

Intro

There have been so many times when I have felt like a failure… as a mother, wife, sister, daughter…

Even tonight I felt like I failed my son because I couldn’t wait for him to fall asleep, and then I felt guilty as soon as he did!

Where are all my moms at?

Credit to Saying Images

But what I want to talk about in this post is careers and choosing to do what I love to do and finding what that is in the first place.

When I went to college I thought for sure I was going to be a criminal profiler. Still my dream job, but I’m not pursuing it because it doesn’t fit my lifestyle (not because I don’t think I can do it – I want to make that distinction).

Near the end of Freshman year I decided to change my major to finance.

I knew it stemmed from having to deal with the mess that was left behind when my parents passed away, and I thought that passion would be enough.

In one of my previous posts I had mentioned the financial struggles that my family had been going through.

They had no savings or insurance to pay for the funeral services.

Additionally, I was the one who had to contact the debt collectors and send my parents death certificates to prove that they could not pay the bills that continued to come in the mail.

There wasn’t a will in place to designate anyone else to handle it.

I have three older brothers, but they didn’t have the right mindset to take care of it and I don’t fault them for that.

After handling their debts and realizing the seriousness of the position they were in, it scared me. I did NOT want to leave my family that way.

I don’t blame my parents. I think it comes down to a lack of education, rather than a lack of responsibility. I know that so many families are in the same situation.

The fear that was instilled in me fueled my desire to educate people.

I wanted to teach the importance of having a financial plan, life insurance, and a will in place so that when something unexpected happens, they would never have to worry about how they left their family behind.

So, I spent the next three years working hard to graduate early. I stalked the company that I really wanted to work for because I knew they focused on planning and not just sales. And I was offered a position before I even graduated.

After graduation I spent three months studying for the financial advising exams and passed on the first round! I was READY to start my career and make a difference in people’s lives.

Little did I know that I was about to attempt one of the hardest things I’d ever do. It turns out, not everyone is so welcome to the idea of discussing financial plans!

Ha… I knew that going in, but I also thought I’d be able to convince people how important it was, but that wasn’t always the case.

Oftentimes I would go to networking events to meet new potential clients, and I would meet a lot of great people… but then I would just start getting to know them, and not want to transition that into a business transaction.

I genuinely care about people, and I want to get to know their stories and how they became the person they are. I didn’t want to turn a genuine conversation into a sales pitch.

That is not to say that you can’t be a financial advisor and genuinely care about people, because I know a lot of advisors who do just that! My mentor was amazing and he’s still my personal advisor to this day.

I just could not find the balance that felt right for me. About a year in I knew I was unhappy.

I didn’t feel successful; I didn’t feel like I was contributing financially in my marriage; I didn’t think I was making a difference in people’s lives the way I had hoped.

I tried to stick it out and find a way to rekindle my passion for the career I had chosen.

I partnered with another advisor to see if working as a team would help. It made the next several months bearable, but it didn’t bring my spark back. I let myself become miserable in my circumstances.

It became clear to me that I was just wasting time. I was NOT happy. I was NOT succeeding. And I felt like a FAILURE.

I can remember on several occasions just crying in my living room and Ben or my brother, Scott (he was living with us at the time) asking me what I was crying for… and I would just say “I don’t know!”

When I became pregnant with my son, I knew I had to make a change. I had no idea what I wanted to do next, but I knew I couldn’t let my son ever see me like that!

I balled my eyes out when I told my manager that I was going to be leaving.

I felt so ashamed that I had “failed” and that I didn’t live up to the potential he saw in me. I didn’t even have a job lined up before I left, and that was uncharacteristic of me. But, I desperately needed a reset.

I needed a new dream.

Interim

So, during my pregnancy I found a job at a law firm as a legal assistant, but it was really like a glorified mail sorter. It was without a doubt the most mundane job I have ever had.

It was exactly what I needed, though.

It allowed me to work with people closer to my age, and feel like it was okay to be in limbo. It gave me the space and air I needed to catch my breath and realize that I hadn’t failed just because I found out I didn’t enjoy being a financial advisor.

It just wasn’t the right path for me.

For the rest of my pregnancy, I spent A LOT of time trying to figure out my next move.

I considered going back to school to be a lawyer, or a criminal profiler, or even getting my masters in finance so I could be a professor (because the one thing I did enjoy about finance was teaching it)…

The options were endless, and it felt so freeing!

On my last day of work before going into labor I knew that there was a good chance I wouldn’t be returning. I didn’t know what was next, but I knew I needed to pursue something that I could be passionate about.

I had a long 30 hour labor… and during that time my nurses were amazing! I literally said to Ben “That would be such a fulfilling job.”  – I was in labor and I was thinking about fulfilling jobs?? Mind you, that was definitely after the epidural!

And that was it! That was all it took.

I had a new dream!

My New Dream

I did my research and before Ellis was even 4 months old I was back in school completing my prerequisites for the second degree nursing program.

Because my first degree wasn’t anything science related, I knew it would take me a couple of years to complete the necessary classes to get into the program.

I felt so driven and so determined.

Nursing seemed like the perfect thing for me to do. It would allow me to genuinely help people without having to sell them anything.

It would give me so many options from working in a hospital or a doctors office, working days or nights, working full time or part time…

I just KNEW nursing would open so many doors for me!

After the first year of taking classes I decided to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide) so that I could gain some experience before the actual nursing program.

I took a two week course and passed the exam for my certification. It didn’t take long and I had a job on the ICU floor of our local hospital. I was beyond elated to get started!

Unfortunately, I only held the position for a couple of months before I had to resign.

I developed inflammatory arthritis when I was 16 years old. I had struggled to find a treatment for several years, but eventually achieved remission before getting pregnant with Ellis.

I felt so good after giving birth, that I decided not to go back on the medications.

Right around the time I became a CNA, my hands began to flare up again. I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be that bad.

But, it was a quick onset, and my ability to do certain things quickly declined. It was difficult to write, some days I even winced as I washed or brushed my hair.

It became clear that I was not going to be able to provide the appropriate care to my patients. They would need someone who could treat them without restriction.

On one of my last nights as a nurse aide at the hospital I remember receiving a message from Ben about a small family debacle. It was nothing major, but it sent me over the edge.

I went to the bathroom and literally could not stop sobbing. I ended up having to leave for the night.

I knew it wasn’t the debacle that I was upset about. I felt like I was giving up again. I knew the inevitable was me having to leave my job.

I felt like I had failed… AGAIN.

When I got home that night, I went straight upstairs to our bedroom and I just lost it. Deb (Ben’s mom) came up to comfort me – we were living with them while in between houses.

I spilled my heart about feeling like a failure. I felt like I wasn’t providing for my family, like I was being selfish for even going back to school in the first place when I already had a degree.

I felt like a quitter. I quit financial advising and now I was going to have to quit nursing.

It didn’t matter that it was because of my arthritis; what mattered to me is that I didn’t succeed at what I set out to do.

I stuck it out for another week or two before giving my immediate notice.

There I was again… with no job lined up, feeling like a failure.

I continued classes that fall just in case something happened and hoping my arthritis would make a huge improvement. But, it didn’t.

I ended up getting a job as a barista at our local Biggby and dropped my classes for the winter.

That felt like the biggest gut punch. Talk about not providing for my family. Every single job I had gotten since graduating college had paid me less and less. So much for graduating early and being successful, I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, a job is a job, and I was incredibly grateful for it. I have always believed that I am not better than any job. I am willing to do whatever I need to take care of my family. And that is what I did.

But, I still felt like I was not living up to my potential. So there I was again, looking for a new dream.

Being Okay with not Knowing What’s Next

While I worked as a barista I looked diligently for another job.

I wanted something that I could do for a while. Something that didn’t require more schooling. Something that would give me stability.

I was so fortunate to find something that checked all of those boxes!

I accepted a position as an Executive Assistant for the International department of a global shoe company.

Now, that might sound kind of fancy, but it’s really not. I get to book travels and work on board presentations, plan CEO dinners, and things of that sort.

Sometimes it’s really busy, and other times it’s not. It’s a great balance.

When I first started the new job I felt like I needed to make a plan for the future right away!

What did I want to do in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years!?

But, during the slower times I had time to reflect on my past, and how those so-called “failures” that I had experienced impacted my life.

Here’s what I came to realize:

1) The only person who ever put pressure on myself to succeed at financial advising or nursing, was ME. Everyone around me has given me unconditional support to pursue my passions, whatever they might be.

a. I found out that financial advising wasn’t for me. And THAT’S OKAY! I learned so much from my two years as an advisor and I met so many wonderful people who I am still connected with to this day. If I had never tried it because I was afraid of failing at it, then I would have missed out on so many life lessons and genuine connections.

b. At the time that I was pursuing a nursing degree, it felt like THE EXACT thing that I was meant to do. But, looking back now, I am not so sure. What I am sure of, is that if I had not gone back to school, I wouldn’t have been able to stay home with Ellis for the first 12 months of his life. If I had just gone back to work full time as a legal assistant, I would have missed out on so many precious memories with him. I will forever be grateful for that time I had.

2) By never being afraid to pursue new dreams, I am showing my son that happiness is far more important than money.

a. I could have gotten a salaried position right out of college instead of pursuing a straight commission advising job. But, that wouldn’t have made me happy.

b. I could have chosen to go back to work full time instead of going back to school after Ellis was born. But that wouldn’t have made me happy.

c. I could pursue a better paying job than I currently have. But, that wouldn’t make me happy.

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like” – Unknown

After realizing these two very important things, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be.

So, I stopped searching for what was next. I knew that I would find a new dream, and that when that time came, I would have the courage to pursue it.

New Dreams

One year ago, in April 2018, I opened my first Etsy shop. At first I was doing it just for fun and something to do. I love to learn new things!

I started by utilizing my organizational and creative skills by creating home management templates.

The more I learned though, the more skilled I wanted to become. By August, I had expanded my shop to include coffee mugs and wall art.

Slowly, my passion grew and the thought of someday being able to do design full time or work from home became more exciting.

I knew it wouldn’t happen over night and that I would have to make a lot of big steps to make that happen, but the desire for more continued.

By January 2019 I moved the home management templates to their own unique Etsy shop, and now I have two shops that run with little to no effort. While they have a lot of room to grow I see their potential!

I knew the next step I needed to take to grow my business and also fuel my desire to learn and better my craft, would be to implement an email list and start a website. But, in January I felt like I was at a stand still.

I felt like I wasn’t “ready” to take that step. I felt like I should be grateful for where I was at with my job, and just continue to focus on the Etsy shops and stop while I was ahead.

I hemmed and hawed for 2.5 months!

Then, you know what I realized?

It’s not that I wasn’t “ready”, it was that I was AFRAID OF FAILING!

I didn’t want to take that next step because… what if it didn’t work? What if it never takes off, and no one ever comes to my website?

What if I never grow my business to a point where I could work from home and be my own boss?

What if this is just another dream that doesn’t happen!?

That’s when I knew I had to do it anyway.

I REFUSE to let fear of failure be the reason that I don’t pursue happiness.

Even if that happiness doesn’t lead to money. Even if that happiness doesn’t lead to success. Even if I know this may not be my last “failed” dream.

I will never stop trying to be better. I will never stop chasing my dreams. I will never let fear stop me from trying something new.

Conclusion

I want you to take a challenge… whatever you feel like doing… do it!

Follow your own lead… create your own path. And know this… It doesn’t have to be the same path for the rest of your life.

I believe that things truly do fall into place if you let them. Next time you’re afraid to do something, do it anyway!

Always, Maria

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