It’s so deeply ingrained within the collective consciousness. Graduate from high school, then graduate from college with desired career in mind. That path will lead to success and hopefully a family will follow soon after. All this will guarantee fulfillment and happiness. For most of my life, I bought into this mindset. Inexplicably, one day, I decided that my curiosity about the path less trodden was more appealing than living a life coloring within the proverbial lines.
I left college to pursue my dreams of becoming a life coach and published author. Along the way, I completed a couple of necessary certifications and began working as an office administrator and then as a bartender in order to bring in quick cash while building my coaching company. The fear of building my business crept into my consciousness and spread like cancer. I kept telling myself that I would eventually quit and devote more time to my projects but a year later, I was still working the job I dreaded yet felt comfortable in. It felt safer to stay than to pursue my dreams.
Everything began to suffer. I was too exhausted from work to write my book and my service industry job made me crave solitude. Coaching was impossible. I uncharacteristically began breaking dishes out of frustration. My poor then-boyfriend was subjected to dealing with a version of myself I’d never known before.
I decided it was time to separate myself from exchanging my time and dreams for the mere earning of a pittance. I knew that no amount of cubicle time nor bartending money would ever make me feel fulfilled, and the moment I admitted that to myself, I felt free.
So, I quit. I couldn’t imagine the awesomeness that followed.
- Being broke didn’t scare me.
I saved up enough money before I quit because I knew that it was going to be dry for a few weeks or months, but I wasn’t afraid of sacrificing through building my dreams into my reality. It’s a small price to pay, and I had faith that doing what I love would eventually generate an income beyond what I was going to earn as an employee.
- I became a morning person.
It’s strange that I dreaded waking up every morning for my previous jobs, but when it came time to wake up to work on my book and correspond with clients, I had so much energy even before my first cup of green tea. I rose happily to work on my life’s mission.
- My relationship with my partner flourished.
I am deeply indebted to my then-boyfriend (and new husband) for seeing me through that rough patch. There’s only one thing more unsettling than jumping into uncharted waters: living a painfully mediocre existence. He understood and embraced this about me. When I realized how well my man supported me, I loved him and served him more deeply.
- Investing time and money in myself became necessary.
Because I didn’t have a “Plan B,” I knew I had to equip myself with the tools to be able to follow through with my visions. There was NO way I was willing to risk falling back into the fold of working a job that I hated. I took courses, certifications, studied books and methods by the people who did the damn things – the same things I was determined to do.
- I worked more hours but enjoyed it.
I worked less than 40 hours a week at the jobs I hated and more than 75 hours per week doing what I love from home. The former burned me out and the latter brings joy to every working day. I can’t tell you how many times I worked for 18 hours straight; 20 days straight with no breaks or days off. This is not a recommendation. I’m stating a point. Because money was not my only source of motivation, I experienced sustained energy more often. I was forced to take care of myself in order to be fully functional in my endeavors.
- I stopped tolerating nonsense.
The mere act of walking away from a superficially rewarding (being paid) gig was the first step in taking no shit in exchange for a small exchange for my time. The toxic friendships I had, I ended. Wasting time happened less often. I began to acknowledge that my time and energy were the most valuable currencies and I no longer suffered fools.
- I no longer feared failure.
Failure is necessary in life and learning. It is the ONLY way to properly learn when something doesn’t work. It’s not that “F” I worked so hard to avoid in the realm of academia. As an entrepreneur, failure has become my friend. I’ve made some expensive mistakes and from those mistakes I learned a better way. Failure is a constant for those who are courageous enough to step outside comfort zones and make moves, and fearing it is out of the question.
I finally gave myself the opportunity to prove to myself exactly what it is I’m made of.
“In order for the seeds to be planted, the surface must first be disrupted.”
For most of my young, adult life, I’ve grappled with what it means to be a “good woman.”
I’ve somehow inherited the notion – the lie – which states that my fundamental goodness was based upon my ability to be obedient. Internally, I’ve always felt the desire to “F%ck sh!t up,” in the best ways possible.
As much as I felt the pressure to want to be quiet and to play nice; to be like those who move along with the tide, I so desperately sought permission to swim against it.
I’m so grateful that I learned sooner than later that I don’t need permission to be myself. There’s no shame in wanting to be who I am. And that I would miss a lifetime of opportunities if I didn’t utilize my time and talents unabashedly in order to elevate those who are open to it.
Ever since I made the decision to go into the bliss business, I’ve sought to disprove that “Ignorance is bliss.” Even the ignorant should have a deep-seated instinct that alerts them to what is right and wrong. Just because society says it is so does not mean it is the correct and dignified thing for everyone.
So I committed to this exercise. On a daily basis, I would do one thing or write about a subject that made me deeply uncomfortable because I knew what doing the thing or writing the words would ensue. It would make people roll their eyes, or they would choose to be offended, or they would decide they wanted to have nothing to do with me.
All of these three instances and all other related instances made me realize one thing. They didn’t affect me. Even when a discussion turned into a sh!t show, it didn’t matter, because I learned firsthand that bliss doesn’t lie in ignorance, rather in the realization that there is something more, something greater, than my formerly small perspective.