Well, that’s not exactly how it all went down, but since I have your attention here is what really happened.
Almost four years after leaving undergrad, I was the Communications and Outreach Manager for a major utility company on my island (I have the good fortune of living in paradise, also known as the Virgin Islands!). It was my second “adult” job and truth be told, I was bored. It had not even been a full six months into the new gig, and I had already realised that perhaps doing the work I was tasked with day in and day out, just honestly wasn’t for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love communications. I loved talking to our customers and helping resolve their problems. I liked sending out a release when we got something right or a simple bulletin that might notify customers ahead of a slight inconvenience.
What I didn’t like, however, was my working environment and even being a big fish in a small pond. Simply put, I wanted to be challenged. My professional area was new in many respects to our agency, and it was obvious that it was not planned for. My weeks often went with me tornadoing into my office on a Monday morning all chipper and bubbly ready to tackle the workload and provide excellent service to our customers. Yes admittedly, I was one of those employees. For the first two days of the week, I came early and stayed late. I had to answer each letter in a timely manner, and it was a personal challenge to surprise customers with reasonably quick and efficient customer service.
The rest of my week, however, had me idle, roaming the office, trying to find work and on occasions, going out into the field with the guys doing “research”, better known as buying time. Five months into the job, I became one of those persons, watching the clock and praying for the weekend to come. I didn’t recognise this girl, and I didn’t really like her either.
So one day, that girl who quickly turned into a slacker was home “early” and did what we all did back in those days at 4 p.m., tune into Oprah. On that day, Oprah in all her wisdom had on a series of Life Coaches. People who had amazing stories and had the courage to seek the life they really wanted. At this point I was still a spectator, slouched in my couch, quietly cheering on these persons, totally removed from my reality.
Then She did it. Oprah looked into that camera, saw where I was in my life and asked me, “Are you living your best life?” In that moment, when it was just us, me and Oprah, I felt as though she was speaking directly to my heart. Unable to form my lips into the word no, instead it just turned into, “I’m going to quit my job.” Immediately as those words escaped my lips, I felt nervous, frightened, erratic, but most of all relieved.
She had given me the courage to articulate a thought I desperately wanted to bury. I mean who quits a great job with awesome benefits, too much vacation time, just months before they are about to get married? Who does that? Seconds after the great announcement, I desperately tried to take the words back, but the damage had already been done. I was now awake to my secret truth.
The following week I turned in a letter requesting to be relieved of my two-year contract. With some compromise, I stayed on to complete one year and though the journey ahead of me was uncertain, I was riddled with questions I was not qualified to answer, anxiety consumed me on some days, but at the same time, there was a quiet joy that motivated me to get up every day and prepare the ground work for starting my own business.
So five years after making one of the biggest decisions of my life, I cannot say it has been an easy road. There were huge hills and the valleys at times did not have the best scenery. Being an entrepreneur, however, is the most empowering thing I have done. I see why there are so many male entrepreneurs; the adrenalin rush alone is worth it. Moving a concept to an actual service, office or product is liberating and I truly wish more women would let themselves feel the rush.
Sure my working day at times is much longer, and figuring out how to pay your overhead on some days is daunting, but the rewards of entrepreneurship out ways its challenges. For me, I realise that I am providing a necessary service for my community that motivates me to learn more about my craft and do my very best at each task. This helps in getting the next contract, but it also helps in my overall development as a professional in my field, which in time makes getting the next contract a whole lot easier.
I am also providing opportunities for employment in my community. I specifically try to hire young people because the tasks are entry level, but it is also important to me to give back to my community in a meaningful way. When you hire an employee, you give them the chance to earn a living. That may lead to paying for a night class and improving that person’s quality of life. For me, that is important and giving young people their first opportunity to get into the work world is significant for any community.
The biggest reward I have gotten so far is perhaps the opportunity to begin living my best life; having the opportunity to awaken to my purpose in life and knowing through my work, I’m impacting the lives of members of my community. That in itself is worth getting out of bed in the morning.
If you are still on the fence, and just in case you never get to have that virtual one on one with my favourite gazillionaire, remember these words from another person that was crazy enough to go against the grain, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs.