FINDING THE COURAGE TO KNOW YOURSELF

I’ve naturally been drawn to business since I was young. I remember the entrepreneurial bug hitting me for the first time in second grade at Phyl’s Academy. I’d cut up newspaper comics and organize them into little one or two page “booklets” and then try to sell them for $0.25. That was big money to a kid back then. The business bug hit me again in high school when I saw the potential in having my own Avon/Mark business. These were the first of many business ventures that have come and gone. Each with their own lessons on what to do and what not to do.

Failure is an ironic creature. While it can paralyze some, it can also lead to self reflection and growth. My dust ups and bust downs had gotten me to a point where I was really disgruntled and dissatisfied with life. Maybe you’ve felt the same or are at this point in your life currently, but either way you know the feeling sucks. The best thing about rock bottom is that you literally have nothing to lose. Seriously, it can’t get worse if you’ve literally lost everything already. Failure is that point where the the ash has already cooled. Insert Pheonix metaphor here, because you know where I’m going with this.

Here is the first of 5 things you can do when you find yourself at ground negative.

  1. Self Reflect

I went to school for Political Science and Sociology. I just knew I was going to be a lawyer. I wanted to be one since middle school. Most millenials know about the student loan and undergraduate hustle (special shout out to my frenemy “hindsight”), so as reality would have it law school is just not financially possible. With average yearly tuition at about $40,000 for a really great school with name recognition (yes, it matters) I just can’t see it in the cards, especially when new associates make peanuts and usually have to survive on ramen noodles for a while.

I had to seriously break down why I wanted to be a lawyer for the first time. What was it that attracted me to the field? I realized soon enough that I preferred helping people and making lives better so my Masters degree was in Public Administration. Concentrating on public and non-profit administration at the University of Baltimore allowed me to take courses that not only matter in those career fields but were transferable to business as well. In fact, besides regulation, much of the practical aspects are the same. I realized after reflection that loving to help people can place me virtually anywhere- whether public or private. I’m naturally attracted to entrepreneurship and I love the “feel good by helping people” aspect of public sector work. By understanding my fluidity, I know that I am one of few people who understand the inner workings of government and has had practical experience with business. I know how each affects the other. I understand the difficulty in navigating between both and it has created an empathy that is valuable when working with businesses and having my own.

The self-reflection process is ongoing. I find myself continually finding interests that I want to pursue, organizations to join. Sometimes we think that everything needs to be figured out by 25, 30, 35, or 40. That’s not the case. Who we are at this point in life isn’t necessarily who we will be in 15 years. Circumstances could change our situation at any time. Get down to your core. What are you passionate about? What makes you tick? What space do you occupy as a professional? Knowing who you are presently is the best gift you can give yourself.