Rewriting Your Story or: What Happens When All of Your Good Planning Doesn’t Mean Squat.
When I started college I wanted to change the world.
That might sound super idealistic and even my 35-year-old self rolls her eyes just slightly at my 21-year-old self but it makes this no less true. I was going to change the world.
I had no idea how I was going to change the world but I was fire-under-my-ass determined that I would do it.
I would leave the world a better place than I found it. There wasn’t a damn thing life could throw at me that would stop me. (Trust me, life tried.)
With that grit and determination I got my Associates in Secondary Education.
“Teachers! Teachers change the world! I’ll do that. I’ll focus on English Language and Literature and I’ll write a best-selling book someday while also being a teacher because writers can change the world too if people are paying attention to what they’re saying!”
No, I didn’t do that.
I might still do the book thing, but I didn’t do the teacher thing. I decided I would likely get fired perpetually for saying things like, “Christopher Columbus was a jerk with a bad sense of direction.”
So, I got my Bachelors in Political Science.
“I’ll infiltrate the system and blast Dead Kennedys in the halls of the White House when I meet with some future president about how I am changing the world!”
No, that hasn’t happened either.
I’m sure someone has blasted Dead Kennedys in the halls of White House or Congress but it hasn’t been me.
I got a Masters in Public Administration with certifications in Nonprofit Management and Public Personnel Management.
“YES! I’ll work in nonprofit and fill the gap between what the public needs and what the private and public sectors can give to the public! That’s how I’ll change the world!”
I would do good for the world and do well for myself.
Rise up and come up. Simple plan.
“I will change this fucking world for the better if it kills me!”
…and it almost has.
I entered the Nonprofit sector, officially, in about 2008.
I worked as a Development Intern for one of the best nonprofits on the planet and got to talk to people all about novelty robots in a retail storefront that disguises the writing and tutoring lab in the back of the building.
This experience affirmed for me that the Nonprofit sector was where I wanted to be.
I’ve run summer camps and after school programs.
I’ve been a community advocate for under resourced populations.
I’ve been the director of a community center in a public housing complex, run a food pantry, and taken some of the best field trips.
I helped a group of kids from The Projects learn about photography and put on their own gallery art show alongside one of my dearest, closest friends.
I moved from Michigan to Tennessee for a dream job with a startup organization and was laid off only weeks into the job due to lack of funding.
Then I worked at Staples for $6.50/hr while looking for another job.
I’ve written what feels like a thousand but is probably closer to a couple hundred grant proposals and helped raise $1 million dollars in about a year for one organization.
I’ve recruited, trained, and certified a couple dozen foster families to care for children and youth who were removed from their family homes as a result of neglect and/or abuse.
I feel confident in saying that I have, in fact, changed the world.
Maybe not in the global sense that I envisioned when I was 21, but for several individuals I have helped change the way the world looks and feels and interacts with them and I feel good about that.
In exchange for my efforts, I’ve never made more than $39,000 a year, have worked thousands of unpaid overtime hours, and have worked myself into the ground and in a couple of cases into the emergency room, repeatedly.
I came out of grad school with more than $100,000 in student loan debt and have never made more than $39,000 a year.
That is absurd.
This is where the Power of Broke starts to come in.
For a long time I accepted my meager earnings as “part of the deal.” In exchange for the opportunity to do life-changing, world-changing work I had to suck it up and make less money.
After some years, though, acceptance turned into deep resentment and I stopped dreaming, stopped looking to the future. I was just trying to survive, and just barely doing so.
Year after year I struggled and scraped and robbed Peter to pay Paul. I’ve received food stamps and government health care benefits during two different periods in my life.
I got stuck in a poverty mindset.
Then one day, my friend Toby started posting on Facebook about this new business venture he was a part of. Something about life-changing skin care.
“Puh,” I said. “How is skin care life-changing?”
Toby had my attention though. After a while of seeing his posts and talking to him about the way his business was growing, he started to get to me.
“What could I do with an extra $500 a month? $1,000?”
And then I’d follow those thoughts up with, “Stop talking crazy. You’re a nonprofit professional. That’s your thing. You went to school for it. You went into debt for it. You’re not giving that up now.”
But the more Toby posted, the more I paid attention and finally one day it dawned on me:
I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life working myself into the ground, in the name of helping other people live their best lives.
I was destroying myself physically and mentally for the sake of changing the world for other people.
What the Hell kind of sense does that make?
Suddenly, I snapped out of it. I realized how I had been limiting myself and decided that this was not acceptable and I was going to do something about it.
I told Toby I was ready to link arms and start my business. I almost threw up during our phone call from nerves.
I had no savings for the start-up costs, no clue about skin care, no computer, and very little time (I thought.) When your WHY is big enough, though, believe me…you’ll figure out your HOW.
(If you want to know more about how I did it, feel free to contact me. I’d love to chat!)
I decided I would keep plugging away at my day job and work my business part-time on the side and in a few years maybe I’d be able to transition solely to working for myself.
“Maybe I can still write that best-selling book,” I thought.
This was in November 2016. I invested in my business days before Thanksgiving in 2016. I haven’t looked back since.
I dream all of the dreams now. It’s so liberating and inspiring!
This journey has not been easy. It has been and is a lot of fun pretty much every single day. I have learned so much since I started and I have developed some of the most amazing relationships with teammates and colleagues. These folks will be lifelong friends.
I have reinvented myself time and again throughout my adult life but this is by far the most drastic reinvention.
Running a home-based virtual business is very simplistic because the methods for building your business are easily duplicatable and it’s easy to train and be trained on the key methods and strategies.
One must remember that simplistic is not synonymous with easy.
You must choose your venture wisely — not all opportunities are created equal.
Thank goodness I started when I did, too, because what I didn’t know at the time was that I had a health crisis freight train headed straight for me with one foot tied to the tracks.
Some of you know at this point that I have not been able to work my day job since June 20, 2017. I saw my doctor on September 26 and he put me off of work for another three months.
I spend most of my life right now laying on the couch, which I have aptly named #businesscouch.
It’s been this way for four months. I’m not entirely certain when that will change.
It’s a little bit scary if I’m being honest, but it would be a Hell of a lot scarier if I didn’t have a Plan B…if I hadn’t invested in a business that I could work and grow from literally anywhere, including the couch.
I have no choice but to succeed. Failure is not an option.
If you can relate to any part of my story feel free to reach out to me. I’m all about helping fellow dreamers chart at new course.