I’ve been thinking about writing for the past week or so because my emotions and my head have been all over the place. Not only would it be an interesting read, but potentially therapeutic as I sort out my feelings about leaving. Even now I’m trying to start but I can’t say I’m sad without saying I’m excited, and I can’t say I’m excited without saying I’m sad. Not even in different paragraphs. These feelings are so intertwined its hard to verbalize but here goes. Lets be honest about my real motivation to sit down and sort this out: the day is half over and I still really haven’t started packing – procrastination always motivates me to be proactive about something else.
Ok so at the end of the day, I’m really really excited. I’m ready. I feel I have grown into this person I always knew I would be, professionally and personally, but its almost as if I’ve watched it happen as an outsider. I can look back (relatively) objectively and be in awe of my own development. I am consciously choosing words like “growth” and development” instead of “change”. I posted a quote last week that sums it up perfectly, “I didn’t change, I just found myself.” For this reason, its almost painful to think about how incomplete my life may have been (although I likely would’ve been left unaware) had this opportunity never come knocking, and had I never opened the door. Countless times I was so close to chickening out but support from family and friends encouraged me to just take the plunge. Thank God for you guys. Really.
A few months ago I saw a post online from my Alma Mater asking alumni to tweet advice to new grads and this is the first thing that came to mind:
Not much later, Brian Hallett, our advertising professor was giving us very welcome words of wisdom on our last day of class. I later discussed it in an email with a good friend who is thinking about straying from the “traditional” path and moving abroad for a bit:
I had this professor ask us to imagine ourselves in 10 years. We all closed our eyes and surely saw ourselves in high powered careers with little ones running around at home. He said ok now think of yourselves 10 years ago. Did you ever imagine you’d be here? (NO!) He said we all imagine this direct path in life, straight toward the goal, but the truth is when you look back it was always a windy road that leads you to where you are. Here’s my take away: be open to whatever opportunities arise and don’t say no because they’re unexpected. Say yes because they’re unexpected.
I think its starting to be clear why my excitement and sadness cannot be separated. I’m excited to go home to finally be the person I was always searching for, I just didn’t have the proper experiences. I’m sad to leave because this is a city, a school, a community, a family that has helped me become this person. I know its not a permanent goodbye to any of those things, but symbolically this phase is over so, just like any phase of life, of course its sad. The truth is (I’m realizing this as I write this), I don’t have to feel one emotion or the other. They’re both appropriate and they’re both healthy to acknowledge.
I know I keep raving about how I’ve finally become this person I knew I could be. I want to be clear, she is not without flaws. While I really feel I’ve grown into the best version of myself (to date, anyway), part of that is being aware of my not-so-great characteristics and working on the ones I can change, but embracing the ones I cannot. They (whoever “they” is) always say, “you don’t really know yourself until you’re 25” or 30, the numbers surely change. When you’re younger you think, “What are they talking about I’m the only person who has inhabited this soul since its conception, how could I not know myself, ‘they’re’ crazy.” Then one day, when you actually know yourself, you realize “they” were right all along. Maybe its not about knowing yourself, maybe its about not ignoring your most inherent qualities, the good and the bad. Its easy to be humble and brush aside talents just as easy it is to insist you don’t have a temper (as you storm off and slam the door). The day we can admit these things to ourselves, and even better, the day we can decipher between “Oh I better work on that” and “Yea, thats me, take it or leave it” is when we really start knowing ourselves. Best part is, it doesn’t mean your transitions are over, it just means they can be more controlled. I think. Not sure, I’m not really to that stage yet but I feel it on the horizon.
So what is on the horizon? I’m so glad you asked. I know I’ve blogged about Socially Good Business in previous posts, raving about the company of course, so I’m thrilled to announce I will be officially starting work there this week. Founder Liz Brenna is looking for someone to do everything under the marketing umbrella which includes not only her marketing but her client marketing. I’ll be traveling with her to sales meetings and brand launches, I’ll be budgeting, and doing social media – learning and adapting the role along the way. There is a team of about 10-15 now so the fact that Liz wants me to start in this position is a pretty big deal. Its a very exciting time to be starting in this company as things are just starting to take off. Liz had a vision, was ambitious, and was observant to what they needed to adapt. Now its starting to be crazy busy with a lot on the horizon so I’m graduating at the perfect time. I love the passion of any startup but especially at SGB. I love that Liz really knows that I still don’t have the entire skill set needed for this position, but I will learn and I will learn fast. I’ve always said I knew I was dreaming for bigger positions than my experiences would allow, I just needed someone to have faith that I will learn fast, and quickly become the employee they imagined. Then, thankfully, along came Liz 🙂 Thanks to each stage of education, I have all the necessary tools – now its time to get to work. She keeps telling me I can take a few days to settle before I start but I really am dying to go in Monday. Tuesday we are attending a Sustainability Forum at RIT which is also really good timing so I can immediately learn more about this growing sector.
As you can see from this entire post, I’m very ready to come home and get started in this career and see all these people I’ve been away from for so long.
Then on Wednesday this crazy thing happened. I mean, really crazy.
I got an email from an IE professor I had never met, telling me he saw my CV and he loves it. He’s a partner at a startup here in Madrid and they have a position open for Digital Manager” and… would I be interested.
Stunned, I replied that I have a flight home in a few days but if he has time I’m at least open to hearing about the company and the position. He called me two minutes later and said he would be able to meet the next morning (Thursday… yesterday). He asked when I was planning on returning to Spain from my trip to the US. I think he misunderstood – I’m moving home on Saturday. As you now know, I’m open to “unexpected opportunities” and this certainly qualifies as unexpected, so of course I’d make time to hear about it. I told him about my plans to work with SGB so he didn’t feel like he’d be wasting his time. He was already asking me how soon I could get back to Spain if my move home ended up turning into a brief visit.
The next morning I almost backed out, I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time by acting like I was entertaining the idea. The only people who knew about it were Ali and Lulu since they were with me when I got the email and I knew they would be mad at me if I bailed so their imaginary voices kept me in. Ali had told me, “its fun to turn things down and to know what you’re worth – just go.” Okkkkkk.
As soon as I met these two guys (one professor, one student) my attitude began to change. They are SO nice and so passionate (like any startup founders should be). Their concept is good and it would be an fun sector to get into (luxury travel and networking for young to mid-stage professionals). Essentially the position is social media and content management. I was honest with them and told them about my mindset going into the meeting and congratulating them on making the decision much harder than I expected it to be. They told me to think about it but I still told them it was probably only a 30% yes, and that was being optimistic. The disappointment in their eyes was both heartbreaking and flattering. I’ve never had someone look at me in an “interview” and say things like “you’re perfect for this,” and “we are not talking to anyone else, we will keep looking if we have to, but we want you,” and “just tell us what you need.”
It was very hard, so I did tell them I would think about it but on my way home (once I was away from the sad puppy eyes), I thought about all aspects. Responsibilities here are less than at SGB … (SGB – 1, Madrid Startup – 0) … While it would be amazing to actually live in Spain, I’m mentally and emotionally ready to be back on American soil, and better yet, breathe that chilly Rochestarian air … (SGB – 2, Madrid – 0) … my confidence in success for SGB is 100%, my confidence in success for this company hovers at a strong 80-85% which is great but clearly my passion and motivation lie elsewhere. I think I would like working with this company here, but I know I will love working with SGB. I don’t think I need to do a final tally, pretty sure you get it by now. Either way, at the end of the day, I’m really glad I went and met with them – I will certainly be an ambassador for them in the future and I will try and help them find a wonderful Digital Manager. Besides, Ali was right, it was good for the ego.
So here we are… I’ve melted away a good hour of pack time so now I’m feeling a bit more pressure / motivation. The goodbyes so far have been rather difficult and there are still more to come, but I know I will see these people again and I’ll always have a home in the various countries where I have friends. More importantly, as excited I am to see where my life leads from here, I’m equally excited to see all the amazing places my classmates find themselves and cheer them on along the way.
I hope all of you can take this post and apply it to your own lives. I hope you thought about a decision that may be weighing on you and that you might strongly consider (or even take) the one that scares you (read: challenges you) the most. I hope you imagined yourself in 2023, and realized how different your life is in 2013 than you imagined it to be back in 2003. If, after this, just one of you will hesitate when tempted to say “no thank you” and ask yourself, “why not?” then this post will turn out to be my favorite. Even if you have a quick answer to “why not” and decide not to do it, considering unexpected options will lead you to very new and very incredible places.
… better yet….