I was lucky enough to grow up in a family with a lot of kids – as an adult, I feel blessed to be able to look at my four siblings and learn from each of them. We are all very different in so many ways, but we are also from the same house, they are my peeps and often reluctant sounding boards.
My youngest sister has always been the most different from me, almost un-relatable, ok dare I say it – there were times that I thought she could be from a different planet. I am innately so type A and a driver, and she’s always been a creative dreamer. If we’re being honest, I thought she was irresponsible at times, perhaps a bit flighty, and definitely unrealistic. All of the qualities that I had a preconceived notion of, that would prevent success. During my sabbatical from Corporate America, I finally allowed myself to talk to her in-depth about her career and life choices. My sister the fashion designer, changed my life (and she didn’t even know it).
Choosing Your Career When One Hasn’t Chosen You Yet
I was stuck thinking work HAD TO BE a certain way. I had to commute to a building I hated; I had to earn as much money as possible and then ask for even more; I had to interact with people who I ethically clashed with; I had to listen to bosses who had merely sat in a certain seat for a period of time; I had to keep climbing and climbing even though I hated every second of it. It sounds so trite looking back at it, but it was my reality at the time. I HAD to do these things because I was the responsible one. When I called my sister and asked her about fashion, where she was going with it and what was next. I just HAD to know what her five-year plan was, how she was going to pay her bills, how she could love her job, and act so irresponsibly (in my perspective from afar). She laughed – an honest-to-goodness laugh and then asked me one question: “I don’t understand. If you hate your job, why do you do it everyday?” Yes, I’ve thought that many times before, but what followed was how SHE approached work – it was a non-planned approach really, she just did it (and didn’t see another alternative – she clearly had found her passion).
She had doors slammed in her face, she had to live with roommates, money was tight at times, she had to put up with fussy designers and even fussier clients, but her world didn’t implode around her. She paid her bills, had an amazing social life (I still don’t hold a candle to hers), and lived without regrets about anything. Her approach was SO DIFFERENT than mine, it was almost foreign. Through that one conversation, I realized that there are millions of people who don’t follow the “corporate ladder predetermined path” of work and are still very successful. And I don’t mean those people we see on TV or the random one-in-a-million success stories. I know a whole bunch of people who consciously chose their own path and career, without second-guessing if their parents were supportive; what the neighbors would say; how it would look; and so on. They are my baristas at Starbucks who work there to help supplement their music; they are the people so passionate about their job at the Container Store that they stayed on for over 20 years; they are an artist who refuses to give up on his talent; they are MY SISTER – who grew up in the same house as I did, and never once thought about NOT being a fashion designer. What in the world was holding ME back?
From that one conversation, my preconceived notions about my options, my family, my sister, and success, were all turned upside down in the most enlightening way possible. I saw that I had made many choices to get me to that job I had loathed, but I was finally at the place where I was able to make the choice to get off the treadmill to follow something else. I saw my family was supportive, not indulgent as I had seen it before – if they supported my sister following her dream without question, surely they would be open-minded about mine (more about this in another post!). And my sister the fashion designer, became my INSPIRATION, my biggest silent supporter, and reignited my imagination.
When I’m struggling, I remind myself to be more like her, and I urge you to do the same.
Beautiful Photo Credit (handmade quilling) by: Erin Casner