The Career: Doing Something Important
Most of my twenties were spent doing the growing up I never got to do in my teenage/post-college years and, in many ways, it feels like that process hasn't stopped. I was incredibly lucky to have the right people around me including the woman who adopted me (unofficially but no less important) at 21 and is now someone I call my mom because of all the ways she has and continues to impact my life. I learned a lot of basic life skills from her and my friends and family like how to budget, how to take care of a car, and how to be an adult about conflict in interpersonal relationships, just to name a few.
One thing I seem to struggle with consistently despite all the good efforts of my crew is how to build a career from the ashes of a failed college stint. That's a much longer story I don't want to get into, but I attended a nightmare college at the insistence of my birth parents and knew after a semester and a half that there was no way I could continue to put myself through the frustration and conflict I felt being a part of that school. So I "took some time off" which wound up being a permanent time off. This choice left me with none of the jumpstart opportunities many kids get when they complete their education and I defaulted to a mishmash of odd retail and service industry jobs.
All of these jobs were amazing experiences (I'm being generous, stay positive) and taught me a lot about life, but I saw myself getting stuck in a very relaxed, purposeless cycle of hunting for the next exciting thing to liven up my sometimes dull life for a year or two before repeating. I noticed the pattern, mostly because I could see it reflected in my friends lives, and started getting desperate for a way out. I thought a return to college could help, and it probably would have been a great avenue to explore, but I let my struggling income deter me from pursuing it. The only thing I saw left to me was to radically alter my environment and test my resolve in a much more intense city where an opportunity for advancement can happen or fail equally. A move to New York City was my answer to that question of how to break free.
Year 1 of NYC was mostly an exercise in survival and one that I reveled in. I went through a couple of pretty standard jobs before happening on one that struck a chord with me. It was a SaaS company that claimed to be striving to make the internet a better place, focusing primarily on the publishing industry by offering a new take on analytics that centered around engagement as a metric. I knew very little about the specifics when I said yes to the offer letter, but I knew that I liked that joining this company would mean I was contributing to something really awesome and helping to make a difference in an arena I very much had a stake in. We all win when the internet gets better. So in the space of a little more than a year, I went from surviving to "oh my god, I'm doing something".
I've now been at Chartbeat for almost a year and a half and big pieces of the life puzzle are starting to fall into place. I've learned how to navigate the professional world's sometimes confusing path to getting your work, your time, recognized, what wins and losses you find as a CEO piloting a small startup to a small business, and what options are open to me as a mostly educated human as I pursue to bigger goals I have for my own success in life. Turns out, it's still going to be a bit of an uphill battle, but it's not impossible and I'm weirdly motivated by the thought of that challenge. As it all comes together, I am realizing that what is bringing all of this together for me is that I'm finally building a career in a company that has a purpose I can get behind.
This is changing so much for me as I think about the future and where I may take this someday when I build my own business. For now, I finally understand the sentiment of a purpose-driven work life that gets many successful people up out of bed every morning. I'm sure there will be times in the future where I lose sight of this and slip back into the rut of routine and shortsighted pessimism. That's part of why I want to get this down on paper (wink) now: as a reminder later of why I am still here on this planet, still kicking, and not looking for a bridge to jump off of.
This mental shift is inspiring a lot more writing than I've had in years and I hope that what I blog serves to reenergize me in future as well as anyone who may need that dose of optimism to jump back on the wagon. I know it's more likely that I'm typing into the void of forgotten corners of the web. I stopped to think about whether or not I cared and remembered that a friend once told me that so much of what I considered throwaway thoughts and candid advice actually helped her when she needed it most, so there's a point to putting it down somewhere. I'll keep it up. You hang in there.