Four tips that helped me find the courage to live my #bestlife.
I used to think that because my path was different than others’ it meant that I didn’t deserve a seat at the table. Now I realize that this is exactly why I not only deserve a seat, but also why I am needed. I am of a product of my circumstances and that is not only ok, it’s an advantage.
“I was holding on to the story I had created in my head that somehow I was less than those who had gone the traditional route."
Let’s back up; I was a single mom of two babies by 19. I was a child raising children and although I had an extremely supportive family, I was head strong and independent. Like most parents I wanted my kids to have everything. I wanted to be the perfect PTA mom, but most of all I wanted everyone to think I was the exception to the rule--the single mom slaying it despite all the obstacles in front of her. The reality was I was struggling with anxiety and depression, and most days I felt like my head was barely staying above water.
While everyone else my age was learning how to be an adult gradually with room for trial and error, I was trying to figure it out on my own, and my trials and errors affected two perfectly innocent boys whom I felt like I was failing at every turn.
I graduated from cosmetology school and tried a couple of times, unsuccessfully, to finish a four-year degree. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I gained the confidence to chase my dreams to own my own business. I know that we teach others to find their worth inside of themselves but I have to be real here. I was too broken. It took having someone I admired see good in me, to make me believe it was there too.
Casually doing events for my friends and nonprofits quickly led into a full-blown event planning business, a business that has been a true blessing. I affectionately call our city the biggest small town you’ll ever see. It’s big enough to have a ton of awesome amenities and small enough that connections are around every corner. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon has nothing on six degrees of a Midwest college town. This can be hard because yes, most people know your business and yes, it’s difficult to reinvent yourself, but it also means when you do a good job word spreads quickly. Our town is incredibly supportive and my clients were instrumental in helping me build my business. I was great at what I did, and I had the business to prove it. My customers trusted me with their most special days and thought enough of me to refer me to their loved ones. Why then, when it came to professional networking events, presentations, and panels did I feel less than my peers?
For me, I was holding on to the story I had created in my head that somehow I was less than those who had gone the traditional route. However, the reality is the lessons I learned through my messy growing up have served me well. My ability to keep my calm in the midst of crisis, to talk to anyone, to problem solve, and to piece together an efficient and effective plan for execution are all things I learned out of necessity. My ability to empathize, to believe in others and their intentions, to know that often those that seem the most far gone are the ones that want to be better, all comes from my personal experience. I have lived a messy life, but my stories help me give hope to others in the middle of their own messes.
Whoever you are, whatever your story, whatever your struggle, please know:
Your voice matters. You’re the only “you” there is. Your unique experiences give you a view of the world that needs to be heard and you are the only one to share it. What you’ve learned could help someone else who’s trying to find their way. It’s not only your privilege, but your responsibility to share.
When others hurt you, it is because something is broken inside them. It has nothing to do with you. Don’t let others’ damage derail your destiny.
Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word and encouragement, even to those who seem like they have it all together. Your encouragement may be the thing that gives someone else the energy to slay their day, week, month, OR LIFE. Be unapologetically complimentary. Love others in a way that makes people take notice.
Do not let who you were dictate who you are to become. We have all made mistakes. We have all hurt people we cared about. We have made choices that we are embarrassed of. That’s ok. Make the decision to be better today. That’s it. Just focus on being a little bit better today than you were yesterday. Stop believing the lie that you aren’t worthy of your dreams. You deserve the life you dream of making, and you bring something unique to every table.