It’s fascinating to me how people evolve over time. What isn’t acceptable or respected at one point in time becomes the ‘new craze’ that everyone is aspiring to be. I come from humble beginnings. My father was an independent contractor who built our home from the ground up and my mother, a singer, dancer, actress, teacher who made more sacrifices to take care of others than any one woman should.
I learned early on after watching my parents work every day of the week, every hour of the day as small business owners and still didn’t have health insurance or a savings account for a rainy day much less retirement, that I wanted NO part of that. My God Parents were both government employees and they were stable, home paid for, retirement on the horizon, with great dental insurance LOL…. That was going to be my path!
I have always been a strong willed person and during my teenage years I had strong opinions on everything. My parents were going through changes with the family business and my father fought a battle with cancer for 9 years which drained all of our resources financial and emotional. I decided that I was going to take matters into my own hands and left the house around 16 1/2 on a quest to provide for myself. I was tired of watching my parents struggle financially and to be totally honest, I wanted a car and Nike Sneakers.
The day of my 16th birthday, I started working at McDonalds in a not so favorable neighborhood by my mom’s dance studio. Within a few weeks an encounter with two men who lived around the corner would change my life forever. I remember them walking up to my register and I greeted them with the BIG Amber Smile asking to take their order. One asked me, ‘Hey, you like working for chump change?’. Honestly, looking back, I’m not even sure I knew what that meant LOL. I was like HUH? He said, “Come through (to his apartment) after work. I have a proposition for you.”
My naive and reckless self did ‘swing through’ to meet up with a total stranger in an sketchy neighborhood, at night no less to discuss the proposition. Without going into too much detail, I was introduced to an opportunity where I could make double the money I was earning at McDonalds in 1/4 of the time. Of course there were consequences…. but when you’re young, you think you’re invincible.
With my new found #hustle I was off and running. And… because I’m an overachiever, I worked and hustled for quite some time until the hustle really started to take flight at which point I began putting myself through college.
It was five years that I was in the streets…. ‘grinding’ as they call it. I was a HUGE disappointment to my family and former friends. Please understand, fast money is fast – and luckily for me I began to build my business acumen early on, however, it was a VERY LONELY time in my life because relationships that encourage vulnerability are a liability.
I’ve always been quite intuitive and I could see the landscape changing. I encouraged my colleagues to exit along with me. They chose not to. Luckily I had a built a foundation with my education and it was my dream to help others so I began working for Juvenile Probation.
For three years after my abrupt departure, I worked 7 days a week juggling 3 jobs. My former colleagues used to pity me seeing me go from comfortable to exhausted, broke and frazzled. They would come to my work and bring me lunch, take my car to get washed and fill it up with gas, and when I was cocktail waitressing at night, they would come by and leave me very large tips to help me out as I transitioned into ‘real life’.
I quickly went from Part-Time at the County to Full-Time at the City…. moved up job classifications year after year. I was making ‘good money’, purchased two homes (one was a rental), my son came along around this time which is truly my driving force for everything I do.
But even with all of these accomplishments at the age of 23 and 24 I was still a disappointment in the eyes of many for poor choices I had made in the past ~
The good news was by 24 I achieved what I set out to do…. I had a government job with good benefits and a pension!
I had no idea how small minded I was back then ~ taking the safe route ~ ‘settling’ as my step father later called it. That humbling ‘pep talk’ he had with me back then… that was a Game Changer. I share these very personal stories and random ‘aha moments’ with you as sources of inspiration.
You never know who will cross your path or what information you will be introduced to that will change the way you think. I don’t know about you… I usually do my best work when my back is up against a wall. That is also when I take the biggest calculated risks.
Who knew at the age of 25 I would abandon my dream.. my security… for the unknown –
I can’t wait to tell you that story!!!!