Stepping Into Uncertainty, Alone

And how to tell poisonous people and their “support” to go fuck themselves.

This story was originally featured in my newsletter.

Some years back, I walked away from a 15+ year career in digital marketing to become a dog trainer. Even my family questioned this sudden and erratic shift. I had achieved “success”, after all. I had a six figure job, the respect of my co-workers and even some recognition in the industry. But I hated everything to do with it. I wanted out.

There are actually a number of hurdles to becoming a certified and effective dog trainer, but the hard part was not studying behaviourism, the certification exams, or even finding clients. The thing that almost stopped me was having to tell people I was a dog trainer. I was ashamed that I was walking away from money and status to work with animals for a living.

A few loved ones supported me wholeheartedly, but they weren’t the voices I listened to. I couldn’t remember anything except the looks on most people’s faces when I told them what I was doing now. That moment when they couldn’t find the words followed by the cutting tone of their questions.

How will you make money?
Have you thought this through?
Were you fired?

I had found something that had meaning for me and I was good at it, but I was afraid to tell anyone who knew the old me. It was almost like coming out of the closet again, as crazy as that sounds.

And then one friend did something unexpected. And that’s all it took.

His name is Paul Tedesco and he invited me to a party of agency people I didn’t know. I rarely go to these types of things, but I’ll do anything for Paul.

When we came into the party, the host was quite warm and welcoming, giving me a kiss on the cheek and inviting me in. I was taking off my jacket when someone asked what I did for a living.

I remember freezing. I was about to lie and say I was a digital consultant, but Paul beat me to it. Without blinking, he proudly stated to the room that I was a dog trainer.

It was like being punched. I remember staring at him. Was this a trick? Was he teasing me? But no, he was just standing there with a supportive and proud expression. He even continued, saying how great I was at it.

I don’t remember much more about this night except that I almost cried in public.

That moment changed something inside me. That single and unexpected bit of encouragement, when I felt so much doubt, meant the world to me. And it gave me the confidence to stop giving so much power to those who clearly doubted my choices.

So to those of you who feel alone and ashamed for bucking the establishment and following your heart, find that one friend. Give power to that ONE voice. Stop listening to the others. Focus on the one or two people in your life who are offering you support and encouragement.

But only you can choose to let the supportive voices in. Only you can give the words being offered the power and volume they require to overcome the self-doubt.

You are amazing and your calling is worth your investment, time and effort. And if the people around you can’t see that, then it’s time to find some new people.

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