Pressure. That’s all I felt in the months approaching and following my graduation date from college in 2009. Pressure from others, but mostly from myself. Who would I become? How would I start my professional career? Who was I ? Those are the questions I asked myself everyday at the end of 2009 and after the new year.
Asking these questions was my first mistake. Too wrapped up in the questions I was suppose to ask myself, the right way to start a career (according to conventional wisdom) I fell back on what I thought I SHOULD do.
Sometimes plans don’t work. Even backup plans fall through. You determine your destiny. Not chance or luck. I found myself following the rules I had set for myself.
Allergic to risk. Failing to fail. Aiming for perfection.
The day I got a job offer I was overwhelmed with feelings of relief, ambition, success and a hint of fear. My professional career had officially begun.
Background checks, screening, new hire orientation and classroom training entered into my life. I spent three weeks in Baltimore for training. The first months of work were filled with textbooks, learning entire computer systems and dreaming of finally having a cubicle to call home. Not exactly the life I envisioned or the career I had set in mind before graduation.
I learned the ropes, passed tests, graduated from training, released from my mentor and and was on my own. I became a worker bee. It was all about the numbers. I followed the rules, exceeded performance and quality standards. Error free. Risk adverse.
Months went by and then another year had passed. Is this what I went to school for? Am I happy? What am I achieving? I woke up one day realizing I had settled. My worst fear had come true and it was only my fault. Paychecks became more important than my dreams and ambition to challenge the status quo. My passion had disappeared. What had happened to me? I was not being true to my character.
I felt like I had joined the military in some ways. I became absorbed with exceeding the numbers, saving my paycheck and waking up at 5 a.m. for another 12 hour day.
After spending two weeks in Europe for a much needed vacation I had planned my whole life, I realized it was time. I was just living through the motions. Making my bosses happy, processing claims and collecting a HUGE paycheck.
My 25th birthday was quickly approaching. How did I get to 25 so fast?
Two weeks before my birthday I woke up. I asked my bosses for new roles, challenges and projects to move forward in my career. I had proven myself time and time again, but there were no opportunities to grow. Leaving my federal job was the hardest decision I had ever made. I walked away from my large salary, life-long friends and my federal career, but I was ready to move forward. I knew moving forward would be hard, stressful and nerve-racking at times. I was pulling myself out of my comfort zone and diving head first into the unknown. Moving towards my new career and redefining my future without rules or deadlines. You never know what you are capable of until you push yourself to the limits.
Where Am I Now?
My passion is alive. Enjoying the moment. Being a better daughter, sister and girlfriend. Challenging myself and the status quo.
I refuse to settle in life. Challenge is what I live for. Be bold. Make moves.
If you don’t like something about yourself, your life or who you are spending your life with, change it. No more excuses.
Who am I? I am a person who works hard and plays hard while making history. I do the first two everyday and will spend the rest of my life striving for the third.
Perfection does not equal success. If you are perfect, you will never learn from your failures. Failure is the first sign of success. Never compare yourself to others. Do what is right for you, not others. Be allergic to bull, even if it’s coming from your own thoughts. Don’t settle for average. Remember the past, but move towards the future.