What do you do when your entire future seems unclear?
This has happened to me not once, not twice, but three times in my career path (that's not even counting the personal curve balls I've faced!). The path would seem so clear, I was sure of where I was headed, my passions and my gifting were in sync... but then it all changed. And changed again.
I suppose I shouldn't have been all that surprised that my career would take a few twists and turns throughout my adult life. As a kid, I would constantly bounce from one creative hobby to another. One day I was completely obsessed with jewelry making, and invested ALL of my allowance into buying supplies so I could launch my very own jewelry line (SAS Designs, thank-you-very-much) at my parents' upcoming garage sale - then by the next week I was on to incessantly sketching cartoon characters, trying to learn from Walt Disney and other masters (and mostly just getting good at tracing rather than actual drawing).
By the time high school came around, I was headlong into my love for music and theatre, and there my passion would reside for the next eight years. (Way to go me for finally finding some longevity!) When it was time for college, much to my parents' chagrin, there was absolutely no doubt about what my major should be - so we started researching the best schools for a musical theatre degree. I ignored Mom and Dad's pleas to minor in business (not going to pat myself on the back for that one) and instead chose to double major - my second concentration would be photography.
Did I think I had a crystal clear idea of where these studies would take me? Of course I did! Was I completely fooling myself? Um, yeah.
As my college years came to a close and I started to realize that I would soon be on my own in the big, bad world of real adult life, it hit me. I hated auditioning. I couldn't take the rejection, the constant sources of self-doubt, the incessant need for the approval of others that my musical theatre degree was going to provide. The past four years had been amazing, learning and growing and spending all of my time doing something I loved. But I just couldn't envision myself doing what it would actually take to make this into a career (and not starve in the process). So, what now?
I'll spare you the details of every single moment like this throughout my early adult life, but you get the idea - over and over, it seemed I found myself at a crossroads, realizing that I had invested time and energy and passion into something that just couldn't take me any farther. I started a wedding photography business, then abandoned that. After that, I went back into retail for awhile, because that was what I knew - if nothing else, I could surely sell the heck out of some stationery and invitations. Meanwhile, I continued to try to figure out if I could find a way to be happy making a career out of photography in some other form. No dice.
Finally, I heard about this new website called Etsy. I was working as a graphic designer, creating invitation designs for another business - and I thought, maybe I can try to do this my own way using this new platform. The risk was small, because I still had my full time gig - until I didn't anymore. The company I was working for filed for bankruptcy, and one by one, we were all laid off. Suddenly this little experiment became a big, huge, life-altering risk. Should I try to find another retail job, so I could spend more hours pouring into someone else's dream? Or should I see where this new road would lead?
That was December of 2009, and that was when I opened my little Etsy shop, Foglio Press.
The point of this long and rambling trip down the memory lane of my early adulthood is this: Time after time, I thought I knew exactly where my life was headed; and time after time, I was wrong. And for many, that would feel like a defeat of some kind. Like failure. Because we don't really love being wrong, do we?
But the thing is, by embracing the twists and turns and new directions, life took me exactly where I was meant to be. I couldn't have imagined running Foglio Press when I was a freshman in college, so I wouldn't have known what courses to take or what to study to get me here. I had to follow the path I was on, and trust that it would land me in the right place. And sure enough, here I am.
Next time you find yourself in a position where life doesn't look the way you expected, or something you were so sure of isn't quite working out, I hope you'll remember my story and know that this is just a twist in the road that's getting you closer to exactly where you need to be.