Years ago, I started down the American Dream path much like everybody else.
I was the good girl – it said so on every report card that went out. That meant being quiet and doing as I was told. Yep, straight A’s in that department. And so I learned the value of being quiet and keeping to myself. I learned to be a follower – take in what everyone had to say and follow their direction.
College? Yep, my mom made sure I got my degree.
What should I major in? I had no idea. So my dad pushed me towards business. “There will always be business …” That was his theory, and he was correct.
A husband? No matter how much liberation was going on for women in the 80s, it was still expected to marry and raise a family. And in my case, sooner rather than later. I watched several cousins and friends marry before 21; I couldn’t be left behind.
Get a job? Definitely. But what did I focus on? Passion wasn’t a thing. The only thing that mattered was to get one that made money. Got it. Fed the bank account.
Then my world came crashing down all around me. My dad died at the age of 54.
I was following in his footsteps. I hated my job. I was facing cutbacks and the potential for downsizing. Happiness? What the hell was that?
But somewhere way off in left field, my husband picked up his camera and started tagging along on wedding photo shoots with a friend. And after his third downsizing in three years, we said “what the hell” and threw caution to the wind. We opened up a studio and have pursued the entrepreneur lifestyle ever since.
That process sounds easy when I write it up in a few paragraphs. In reality, it was the most painful process you can imagine.
We didn’t have entrepreneurship in our blood. All of our family and friends had jobs. “You’re gonna do whhaaatttt?” Yep, we had that thrown in our faces a time or two. “You’re crazy.” Yup, heard that too.
And the funny thing is you start to believe it. When everyone in your universe is looking at you like you’ve grown a third eye and sprouted wings, you fill up with doubt. You question everything.
Inside you know you can do it.
Outside you question your sanity.
Inside you pump up your desire.
Outside you break down and cry.
Inside you say: “Why the hell not?”
Outside you say: “Why do YOU think you can do THIS?”
Unfortunately, you start talking about your dreams and your goals and your desires to those closest to you. Your family and friends that love you the way you are. And it’s not in their best interest to let you go. They want to keep you where you are. Comfortable. Like them. Right where they want you to be.
So you say what you need to say. You build up the right presentation. You prepare your speech. You provide graphics and pictures and ideas. You’re excited! So much to share!
And they look at you like the eyes and wings have appeared.
And your confidence goes down. And your doubt rises. And your “Who the hell do I think I am” rears its ugly head.
You’re talking to the wrong people.
You’re telling your message to the wrong crowd.
You’re trusting where you are instead of where you want to be.
You’re playing in the wrong field.
When we decided to start up our photography business, we finally worked up the courage to attend a bridal fair. We took a booth in the corner. We printed up a few flyers and brochures. And we talked to everyone around us.
Another photographer came over and introduced themselves. “Let’s do dinner.”
They took us under their wing and taught us the ropes.
We found our tribe.
Someone who thought like us. Experienced what we were experiencing. Wanted to be who we wanted to be. Spoke our language. Played our games. Wanted what we wanted.
They SAW us. They GOT us. And it was the best damned feeling in the world.
No matter what your passion, what your skill, what your desire, or who you want to be, what’s holding you back is staying where you are.
When I wanted to start writing novels, I started looking for novelists. I wanted someone who got me, who understood what I was thinking, who wanted what I was dreaming about.
I found them. I’m playing in their sandbox. And when I say anything about my life and the writing process, they get it. Cause they’re there too.
When you are in your twenties, you have less doubt to overcome.
That doubt builds year by year. You surround it with your current tribe. You surround it with your job, your finances, your kids, your hobbies, your demands, your retirement goals, your caregiving whoas.
“You can’t do that,” they shout. “What about us?”
But what about you?
Sure, you may have to tell all of that stuff goodbye. Not everybody or everything will stick with you as you transition to your new life.
Why isn’t that okay?
You’re here, in midlife, and if you don’t do it now, where will you be in five, ten, fifteen, or twenty?
Now is the perfect time to find your new tribe.
What do you have to say? Say it.
Who do you need to say it too? Find him or her.
How should you present it? Say it. And readjust as you find your way.
But whatever you do, don’t stay where you are today.
Get up. Move. Find something new. Talk to someone who you’d like to meet. Or someone you’d like to be.
Ask a question. Read a book. Get advice. Move away from who you are today.
Because walking away from here only lets you walk closer to over there.
And that might just be the very best place to be.