For the better part of 8 years I ran my own business. It took many forms – graphic design, PR & marketing, advertising, interior design, and event planning [remember that one time I told you I was distracted easily??]
In October of 2008 I started volunteering for CoachArt, an organization that provides free art and athletics lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings. I was matched with 2 adorable children who I taught cooking lessons to. After our first 10 week session we took on art lessons. They are amazing. I love their whole family, they claimed me as a member of the family on day one and I looked forward to my time with them every week. [shameless plug alert: you should read about this organization and if you are in LA or the OC, become a volunteer -- it will change you, I promise! end of shameless plug].
During the middle of last year I was feeling really unsatisfied with my job (by this time I was doing event planning) – the stress was insane, I was working alone (which lead to me talking to myself a lot, turns out, I like talking…to people…a lot…so that was problematic), I was limited to what one human could do in 24 hours (lame) and most of all, I just started hating what I was doing. Something I began to realize was that I started this business in my early twenties - a time in my life when I was at the height of my uncontrolled crazy. I lived for the stress, I could stay up for weeks at a time, and the high I got from barely pulling it together at the last minute was addicting. But now, in my early thirties I finally have come to terms with the fact that I really need at least 8 hours of good quality sleep to function and all that stress was just going to make me look old, quickly. Turns out that a job that consists of constant high stress and little sleep is not at all conducive for a bipolar individual who is seeking to live a healthy and balanced life (double lame).
Well to make a long story short (or as short as a verbose individual can), I was approached with the opportunity to work for CoachArt at the end of last summer. The idea of leaving my business that I had spent the last 8 years building was scary – so many questions flooded my brain: Could I really walk away from my own business without feeling like a failure? Could I live on a non-profit salary? Could I work for someone else? Could I handle being in an office the same time all day, every day? Am I capable of interviewing and getting a job considering that I have not worked for a ‘real company’ since my retail job in college? Do I even know where my resume is? What will I wear on said interview? OMG it was never ending!!!
Ok, ok, back to the not-so-short(er) version of the story...When it was all said and done, I realized that the money did not matter – I just needed to be able to cover my expenses and the worst case scenario would be that I am incapable of working for someone else and I go back to running my company. Plus the idea of working for an organization that makes a difference in people’s lives was really exciting for me. I took the job last September and the transition was hard, but I finally feel like I am getting in my groove.
The reason that I have been thinking about this is because a few weeks ago I got an email from the mom of one of our students who is taking guitar lessons. This student happens to be a sibling of one of our former students, who sadly lost his battle to cancer at 6 years old last summer [as a side note: the passing of this little boy had a HUGE impact on me and was a big motivation for me to make this career change]. Since his brother’s passing he had not touched his guitar. We matched him with a guitar teacher a few weeks ago and he has learned to play one of the songs that was preformed at the memorial service of his little brother. Reading this email brought tears to my eyes and made my day all at the same time. It confirmed, yet again, that I made the right choice when I walked away from my business, when I decided to follow my passion and take a chance on change. And I am thankful everyday that I did.