NOTE: I first wrote this article one year ago, in August of 2018. But at the time I was too afraid to publish it. Marc was concerned it wasn’t a very good business decision, and after thinking about it, I completely agreed. What brand was going to want to work with me if I was this sad, self-doubting person? But a little time has made both of us realize that I started this company to do more than make money. I started it to connect with women. By sharing my stories, I hope to make someone feel at least a little less alone in her own life and struggles.
These days our lives are run by a social media highlight reel. We are made to believe that life is one meticulously curated snapshot after another, and that if we don’t have our own picture-perfect moments then we are failing.
Simply put, that is complete and utter bullshit.
Life is messy. It’s complicated. It makes us want to scream. And it also makes us smile with pure delight. Real life is funny like that. The hardest moments make the best moments that much more worthwhile.
I will never claim to have all the answers. But I do have plenty of stories and personal experiences. And if sharing those helps open the door into a community of like-minded women committed to lifting each other up, then you’d better believe I’m going to share them! Even if a potential brand partner thinks it makes me look like a less than ideal representative.
Whether or not you are starting a new business or career, grappling with accepting your relationship status, struggling to start a family, or going through any other challenge that can feel so overwhelming and impossible when you are in the middle of it, know you are not alone.
You can’t have an end without a middle. We just never talk about that middle until we’ve successfully made it to the end. But enough of that. This is life. Real life. And every part of it is worth our focus. There’s no shame in struggling. That struggle takes courage.
So, here is what I wrote last summer. I’m now a little further along in my new career, but I’m still deep in the middle. And it’s scary as hell.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Okay, so I’m not exactly living through the French Revolution (I do need to keep some perspective). But Charles Dickens’s opening line in A Tale of Two Cities feels like my life these days.
I think this is normal. I hope this is normal. I don’t really have any perspective because I’ve never started a new career before. And while I never expected this to be easy, I was not anticipating the emotional challenges it would bring.
So far 2018 has transformed my life in the most amazing ways. I married the person who isn’t the man of my dreams, but the man who exceeded all my dreams. I also gained complete control of not only my name, voice and image, but also my time. Gone are the days of working nights, weekends, and holidays—unless by choice.
But 2018 has also brought along what I can only call a professional identity crisis. The security of a business I understood so well is gone and I’m left with the complete unknown.
I never realized how much of my personal identity I associated with my career, until that career was over. Even in the beginning when I was hardly making any money as a TV sports anchor and reporter, I still had complete confidence in what I did. It was who I was.
When I was working in Boston in the mid-2000s, I had a good friend who knew just how to sum it all up. Any new person we met would eventually ask, what do you do? Theresa would immediately say, “I’ll go first, because as soon as you know what she does you aren’t going to care about my job”.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in it for the fame, and I was never famous anyway. But I worked damn hard to get where I was, making many sacrifices along the way. The result was a career that sounded pretty damn cool.
And then I walked away. This is what I wanted. But who am I now?
Starting a business is hard. Most days I feel like I’m doing a ton of work to create thoughtful content that hardly anyone will ever see. I meet new people and immediately dread the inevitable question of what I do for a living. I don’t know how to answer.
I used to be someone. But now I’m trying to become someone better.
I have good days and bad days. On the good I truly believe this will all work out and I’ll find a way to make this business thrive. On the bad I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and am fighting a losing battle.
This week there was a bad day. As bills were mounting and my checking account balance rapidly diminishing, I was feeling sorry for myself and needed to get out of the apartment. So, I took the dog for a walk.
We live in the same building as an extremely successful blogger and influencer. She was one of the first people I followed, and I am in awe of her content. From my perspective she is at the top of this game. We’ve never met but I’ll often see her coming and going in the most fabulous of outfits.
As I walked out of our building that day, mentally beating myself up for not being “successful” in the way I used to define it, I nearly walked right into a courier. He was unloading cases (yes, cases—PLURAL) of Vueve Cliquot to bring into our building. What was written in big letters across the top of those cases? The successful blogger’s name.
Of course it was.
I wanted to cry. And if I hadn’t had an energetic labradoodle insisting on heading off down the street, I might have done just that. Not because this woman didn’t deserve about 50 bottles of fancy champagne given to her for free—I’m sure she does! But because in that moment I felt so far away from that or any type of success.
We’re often told a blog should not be your own personal journal, but instead a service to those who read it. I believe this post is a little of both. It helps me to articulate what’s going on in my heart and mind, but it also helps reach out to those of you who’ve experienced similar feelings. Our struggles may be different, but our thoughts and fears often are not.
I also know that many of my good days are directly related to my conversations with other women who are going through similar challenges. We can’t fix each other’s problems, but there is strength in knowing we aren’t alone.
Most of the success stories we read are all about that happy ending. The protagonist must overcome the difficult times to accomplish the task and live happily ever after. And it’s a success because of that happy ending. But that doesn’t have to be the only definition of success.
What I want to share is the uncertain middle. Because we’ve all been there in one way or another. And some days it’s scarier than you ever imagined. But being in the middle is its own “success” because it means you actually started.
Starting over is hard. Facing the unknown is frightening. It may not work out the way you imagined and there will be bad days. But it takes bravery to choose to change your life for the better, whatever the consequences may be.
And maybe one day, because of that journey and its truly uncomfortable middle, all of our champagne wishes will come true.
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