Close to a year ago I did something that was so uncharacteristically like me. I quit my stable, well-respected corporate job with no promising plans in sight.
At the time, I felt like I needed to focus on myself, my health and my baby, who was only 4 months old; I needed to make my personal life a priority. The logical and rational side of me had a tough time remedying that decision, particularly because I had worked hard to get where I was professionally. I worked my way up the corporate ladder over the past 10 years trading in agency life for client side, pushing for promotion after promotion while going to grad school at night. Needless to say, quitting my job without a plan was not in my plan.
But, let’s be real, neither was getting diagnosed with MS at 29 years old nor was the overwhelming emotional roller coaster that resulted from having a baby. I needed to take a step back and learn to adjust to my new life, prioritize my health and what was truly important to me. When I left Hyatt, I knew deep down it was the right decision but I didn’t know what I’d do next which irked me, to say the least.
The same summer, I started writing about my experiences with MS which was as a healing outlet for me. Tracking my journey, which later morphed into a blog, helped me express my feelings and fears and connected me to others in a similar position. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it end up providing me with an internal strength, confidence and positivity that would later spread to others in a similar position. My mission – to change the face of MS – has since morphed into more than just words. I’ve become an advocate and public speaker, a mentor for others, and a fundraiser that’s actively trying to make change happen. I’m showing that MS isn’t what it used to be.
Along the way, I realized that my previous marketing experience was critical to building my targeted and loyal blog and social media following. It was at that point that I knew that I could also be onto something professionally too. If I could build a strong following for myself, I could do it for brands.
In February, I started my own social media marketing firm. Yes, like every entrepreneur I wanted flexibility and to do things on my own terms but I also wanted to help people firsthand grow their ideas and flourish their businesses. And, let’s be honest, it all seemed so dreamy until I realized how f*#ck*ng hard running your own business was. Pitching potential clients. Developing persuasive decks and processes. Getting your hopes up, only to get turned down.. again and again. Building marketing strategies. Drafting proposals, invoices, timelines. Starting a website from scratch. Developing client relationships. Setting goals and achieving them. Networking. Accounting. Holy. Shit. It felt like the work was never ending and my progress at the beginning was baby steps, at best.
Looking back, however, I can say with certainty that it’s been the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. I’ve struggled, been denied, ignored, led on, and let down. But I’ve also felt pride and strength like I’ve never before. As of last month, I landed my 4th full-time client in less than 6 months – 2 clients of which came on board through cold emailing and a gut feeling that I was the real deal.
Best of all, I value, respect and admire each and every one of my clients and their brands and feel passionate and excited to help them grow their businesses. I also now have the flexibility to spend time with my daughter each morning and make her dinner every night. I can “work from home” with no questions asked as I undergo my regular infusions and doctor appointments. I can even crawl back into bed if I’m having a bad day. I’ve learned the true meaning of balance, efficiency, prioritization and hard work and feel grateful to be where I am today.
I write all of this to remind us all that you never know where life will take you and sometimes, it’ll throw you a curve ball. It may even push you off course. But, that’s okay. Plans change. Obstacles occur. Nothing is ever perfect. But, ultimately, it’s how you roll with it that really matters.
I recently published this article on LinkedIn and was blown away by the overwhelming response I received from it. I never made my MS diagnosis public on LinkedIn, as I was afraid it was “career suicide” and I would be immediately dismissed for future roles that I was qualified for. But, I decided to take a risk and tell my story of how I got to where I am today in my career. Instead of judgement, co-workers, peers and even strangers were incredibly supportive and praised the point I was trying to make. How wonderful, right?