pregnancy · thoughts

my definition of success has changed

From the time I was little I dreamed of being extremely successful. At the time, success meant climbing the career ladder, living in a big city, and going on adventures.

Let me tell you about my career journey.

I graduated college with a degree in public communication — unsure of what doors that might open, but anxious to find out. Turns out finding a job out of the gates wasn’t as easy as I expected and when the student loan bills started trickling in, I felt like I was drowning. WHY DID I GO TO COLLEGE AGAIN?

I started out working at a local metal fabricator company as an office assistant. I was helping to develop marketing collateral and whatever other basic office assignments needed to be completed. The people were great, the job was not. It just wasn’t what I spent over 30K a year in tuition to do for the rest of my life… or ever.

Next I moved on to a local advertising agency. Yes. This is what I was supposed to be doing. I was working with multiple clients, developing social media strategies, managing websites and participating in creative meetings to market ideas and products. This I liked. Fast forward a few months and I was laid off.

Ugh, now what?

I used my resources and network to land a position in local politics. I definitely don’t want to get into any of that right now, but let’s just say I made an impact. Politics was definitely not for me, but I used my marketing skills and knowledge to incorporate an online platform for campaigning. I was able to modernize their communication efforts via website, social media and eblasts.

During the slow times, I worked part-time as a credentialing coordinator at a hospital. Again, I had an in through my network. This definitely wasn’t for me and I learned very quickly that I needed to make something happen for myself because it definitely wasn’t going to fall into my lap.

That’s it. I’m moving to a big city and working at a big agency and doing big things.

I made the decision to move to Boston. I packed my car with as much as I could fit and drove the 9+ hours by myself to a city I was only slightly familiar with and would only know two faces. I didn’t have a job lined up. I figured I would apply to every agency and make it through the doors somewhere.

That didn’t happen.

I temped at a law firm working in the mail room for months. I was miserable and felt like a failure. Nothing against anyone who does that and enjoys it, but again, it just wasn’t my career dream or goal. I was determined to work at an established agency.

I applied to the agency I ended up working for a few months before I was actually hired. I overachieved a bit and applied for a position I wasn’t quite qualified for. Interviews went well; however, it came down to the company hiring someone with more experience. Super bummed. Back to the mailroom. A few months later, I sent the owner I interviewed with an email asking if they had any openings and expressed a continued interest in the company. His response shocked me. He told me he thought he might have something and asked me to come in for an interview. Nailed it! Now I was working at an awesome agency, doing awesome things and living in an awesome city!

I felt successful.

Then I had some life events take place that brought me to a pretty low place. After two years living in Boston, I decided to move home. I remember calling my mom and dad one morning to tell them that I was coming home. “Did you find a job? What happened? Is everything ok?”

Nope, don’t have a job, but I’ll figure it out.

The morning I put in my two weeks, I was offered a promotion at the agency. I so badly wanted the promotion, and wanted to work for the agency, but I knew being so far from home — from my family and friends — just wasn’t working out anymore.

I’m still waiting for the agency to open a Pittsburgh location! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, again I packed my car with as much as I could — and the rest went in boxes that I shipped home. Not the move economical or organized way to move, but I made it all work.

I remember driving the 9+ hours back to Western Pennsylvania. It was an emotional ride and a great time of reflection. As I pulled into my mom’s driveway, tears flooded my face. Have I failed yet again?

It took me four long months to find a job. I spent every single day searching for jobs, refining my resume and cover letter, and applying to companies. When I finally received an offer, I was ecstatic. I was back in an agency — much smaller — but I’d be doing what I was passionate about and I’d be getting a paycheck. That seemed good enough.

Nine months went by and I didn’t feel completely fulfilled. I knew I was capable of more and wanted bigger things. I saw a job posting for a social media producer at a local news station. “I’m applying for this job. This will get me back on the right track.” However, with zero broadcasting background or industry experience, I didn’t have high hopes.

Fast forward — went through a vigorous interview process and landed the job. It truly was a fun and rewarding position. I was attending community outings, covering sporting events, developing social media strategies, and hosting online videos. There were a lot of limitations and I realized quickly the industry wasn’t a very kind one.

After two and a half years in news, I found myself back in the agency environment. As soon as I started, I knew I was over it. It just wasn’t me anymore. Agency life is so glamorous when you’re young. Everyone starts at the bottom, gets paid nothing, and has to prove themselves to get small promotions. But the perks — beer in the office and a cool, modern office space. Did I mention the ridiculous hours you’re expected to work — without being paid OT? Or how about the jerk of a boss you might have who has no respect for anyone? No thanks. I’m old enough to know better now. I deserve more, and I’ll get it. Count me out.

But it didn’t quite work out how I planned it. I was miserable and had been applying for jobs with the hope of finding something and being able to quit my unfulfilling position. In the meantime, I stood up for myself while my boss bashed me, made me cry and then laughed at me. For that I was let go.

It was a shock at first. Me, let go? I’m a good employee and was made to feel like a terrible one. But I knew I didn’t want to be there anyways. Not only was it a tumultuous environment, but it was an hour+ (sometimes hour and a half) commute that I dreaded every morning and evening. It wasn’t my ideal situation and definitely not my dream job.

I chalked it up as a WIN — everything happens for a reason, right?

Wait, did I fail AGAIN?

This time it mattered most. We just bought our first house and I was a few months pregnant. This was no time to be unemployed.

A few weeks later, I received an email response to an application I had submitted for a position I really wanted. Again I went through an intense interview process and was offered the job. I have never been so relieved or happy about a job offer. I was going to be working in a marketing department — still doing what I loved — but in a very different setting. I’d be commuting 8 miles from my brand new house! My boss and coworkers were genuinely kind. The work hours were the best I’ve ever had! And I knew once the baby was here, it meant more time with him.

God knew what he was doing. I just had to be patient and let Him reveal His plans for me.

I felt like I was dreaming, but I know everything happens for a reason.

I felt successful.

So let’s take it back to the beginning where I told you that I always defined success in terms of career. I’m not quite sure why. I suppose it had to do with watching my mom climb the career ladder as she raised two children. She had children very young. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to have a successful career while being a good mom to two children under the age of three at just 20 years old. Somehow she managed. More than that, though. She went back to graduate school and earned her masters degree in nursing. Sure, we were older when she completed her degree, but she still made sure we had dinner on the table, wore nice clothes, did our homework and got picked up from practice.

I truly never admired her job as a mother. I always aspired to be as successful in my career as she is in hers. Now I fully understand the challenges she was faced with and the sacrifices she’s made. Wow. I don’t think I could ever explain how blessed I truly feel for having her as my mother. She taught me to aspire to be more than I could imagine, bigger than my dreams and to never lose sight of where I’ve come from.

Now that I’m about to embark on motherhood, my definition of success has changed. I’ve never felt as successful in any job title as I do right now as an expecting mother. And I haven’t even done much yet or proved that I can be a good mom! EEK! But, I created life. I found someone I love so much that I wanted to create a tiny human with. Pregnancy isn’t easy. I’m only in month eight — but I can say it’s the longest nine months ever. Well, it does go fast, but the days are slow and the weeks fly by. I am in pain or discomfort on a daily basis at this point — whether it’s an aching back, my pulled muscle flaring up or being kicked in the ribs by my sweet, little boy. It’s not exactly a nine-month joy ride.

But already I’m proud to be an expecting mom. I’ve researched carseats, mattresses, carries, bottles, the pros and cons to pacifiers and more. I’ve read my apps and books on what to expect while pregnant and how to have a healthy pregnancy for me and my growing baby. I’ve given up foods that could potentially cause harm and I’ve dedicated so much time to building a perfect nursery for him. Man, I hope he likes it. I’ve stopped spending as much money on myself. Instead I’m buying safety plugs for the outlets and curtains for his nursery. We don’t even have curtains in our living room yet! One day. He is my priority now.

I’ve been doing so much reading about pregnancy and parenting now that I can relate and need to be knowledgeable. I quickly realized moms and dads are superheroes. Consider yourself successful if you’ve raised a child. I’m throwing my hands up to all the moms and dads out there. I haven’t even begun yet, but I know I’m in for a whirlwind of emotions and obstacles.

Now I know that success doesn’t have to be just about a career. My views changed.

While I still want to achieve success in my career, I know that isn’t the only driving force that determines my worth. In fact, there’s more than being a parent or having a career that can deem one successful.

Here’s the definition of success:

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 3.20.42 PM

So basically, you can find success if you achieve whatever you set out to do.

That’s awesome. I’ve been really hard on myself. I have been overlooking the small accomplishments and have been so focused on my career success as what defines me. Talk about pressure.

As I’m embarking on the next chapter of my life, motherhood, I look at success as more than my career. I aspire to be a successful mom and partner. Success will be having a well-balanced, healthy, happy and loving family. Working full-time and raising my son will be triumphant.

Small victories like getting the laundry done, cleaning the house, taking my dog for a walk or spending quality time together as a family will be considered successes in my eyes.

I’m done putting pressure on myself to only feel successful when I reach professional career milestones. There’s so much more to life than work and now that I’m transitioning from being a selfish career obsessed woman to a mom, I know that.

I’m successful because I have a career, I’m building a family, I have a house and a car, I’ve raised a pretty good dog, I’m a good friend, and I can occasionally say no to chocolate! {THAT IS SO HARD TO DO WHILE PREGNANT!}

Here’s to Baby Jack already teaching mama things before he exits the womb! I love my little guy so much already!

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Here’s to everyone who defines success differently — to the businesswomen, stay-at-home moms, friends, dog-walkers, good listeners, therapists, bloggers, and those individuals running their start-up businesses. Cheers to you and ALL of your tiny and big milestones!

What makes you feel successful? Has it changed over the years?

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