My Life’s Detour: Finding Happiness the Hard Way
How You Can Learn From My Major Mistake
Like many people, I worked successfully in the corporate world for twenty plus years. Most people would commend me and think it was great, but not me. To me this “accomplishment” seemed more like a twenty year sentence than a career.
You see, I grew up in a traditional hard-working household. My dad worked at two companies for the majority of his life and my mom, primarily a stay-at-home mom, worked a few hours a week to get away from us (which now I completely understand).
And THAT was the mentality - you got a “good job” to make “decent money” and you worked hard to climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t know any differently. I plead ignorance.
What I DID know was at the age of three I wanted to be two things. Are you ready for this? I aspired to be an actor and a kangaroo. No really it’s true I wanted to be an actor. Well truth be told, the kangaroo thing wasn't meant to be. However, as far as being an actor, I took classes through the years but it was just a dream and dreams don’t come true. Right?
I always did the right thing and I was determined to be successful. So, after high school instead of following my dream, I decided to go to college for finance. It seemed safe and I could make good money.
In the years that followed, I changed jobs quite often because I didn’t love any of them. Hoping to find a sliver of happiness, I decided to get an MBA in Marketing. Even then, I continued to change jobs often for many different reasons. I either disliked my boss, hated the hours or didn’t like the work itself. Overall I felt owned and completely restricted. For the life of me, I could NOT find the right job.
Every once in a while I would get what I call “a visit from my old friend.” My acting bug would tug on my heart and bubble up like a shaken bottle of seltzer. I couldn’t control it. I’d think about it for a bit and wonder what would happen if I finally went for it. Then the usual thoughts would flood in. No way! I am too old. I need to pay the bills. I am too established in my career. I have kids to take care of. Any excuse at all would do.
I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no. Of course, I couldn’t entertain the idea of starting over – as an actor. Come on now! So instead I would repeatedly shush that little voice inside me and go back to work or find yet another job on my quest to find happiness. For the record that never happened!
Flash forward to when I was 42 years young. I was completely unhappy at my job (shocker!) and a few of us were laid off. Most people would have lost it but oddly enough it was one of the best days of my life.
Yes, I was scared shitless but I decided that THIS was my chance. I was going for it.
For once instead of my calling reaching out to me, I was calling her! I was going to be an actor. Crazy I know. Yup – I had gone and lost my mind but I didn’t give it too much thought. I refused to over-analyze it. Like Nike – I just did it.
I got my headshots done, took classes and began auditioning. I took one little step at a time and never looked back. I was finally ready to welcome my calling. Lucky she was patient because it literally almost took me 40 years to finally listen.
I have been acting now for over 4 years and I can tell you unequivocally that I have NEVER been as fulfilled as I am now. I have never felt so free. I have never been so happy. I am living my life on my terms. I realized after all those years that it wasn’t the jobs at all. It was all me. I was wrong for the jobs because I was not following my heart. Now my heart is smiling. Do you know what turned the tables for me?
My biggest fear was being 75 years old, looking back on my life and realizing that I never even tried.
That was my biggest fear and my biggest motivator.
So what the heck does all this mean to you? If you are either unhappy in your current career or you have a calling that you haven’t answered yet, don’t wait until it’s too late to take that first step.
“If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” ― Lemony Snicket
Don’t wait. Answer your calling. Be happy.