Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why I Left the Fortune 100 Company | Cheers to a Better Life

From a young age, I've always envisioned myself as making a difference in this world. Not in an egocentric, rule-the-world kind of way (certain politicians' names have been omitted for their protection), but in more of a Steve Jobs/Ansel Adams/Maya Angelou sort of way. I want to be really good at what I do, I want to help people and the world we live in, and I want to feel good about what I'm doing, morally and ethically. I was very much wandering along my life path until a few years ago when photography came into my life in a burst of color and black and white and film and equipment. It struck my soul with such a quite confidence, I knew I had found my life calling.

Like any starving artist, I needed other jobs to pay my bills. I had been in the hospitality industry for a number of years, perfecting my serving and bartending skills, when I started to get restless. Yeah, I was making money, but I didn't feel like I was part of the "real world". I wanted to get what I thought was an adult job and see what it was like to be part of a large company. I was approached with the opportunity to be an assistant at a Fortune 100 life insurance and investment company, and I leapt at the chance with open arms.

I thought I was really going somewhere at this point. I got to dress like a professional, work 8-5, and focus my evening hours and weekends on my photography business and my family. Only until my fiancĂ© and I were about to embark on a three week road trip did I realize how disillusioned I was. I wasn't happy with the life I was living. My creativity was being sucked out of me the longer that I sat in front of the computer in my cubicle. I would come home at night, sluggish and unmotivated, and photography was no longer the priority it should have been. I was so stressed out by the amount of work that had to get done before we left, and I knew it would always be like that if I stayed in the corporate world. I was dreading going back to the office life when we returned from our trip. I knew I couldn't continue working at the Fortune 100 company and began to seek new jobs as soon as I returned.

I told my superiors that I was job searching, which didn't surprise them. They offered me multiple different in-house options in hopes I would stay, but none of them included a raise or major role change of any kind. I was told that if I wanted to move up in this company, I would have to be patient and wait for an opportunity to arise. Frankly, it's hard to be patient on $12/hour when I knew I was worth more than that. I continued job searching and interviewed at a handful of places. I was getting more and more discouraged in my hunt. In the meantime, my position at the Fortune 100 company was filled. Once I was done training my replacement, I would have to leave.

I saw an ad for a new restaurant opening in De Pere that would be specializing in craft burgers and beers. While I was reluctant to return to the hospitality industry, it sounded promising, I was guaranteed a position, and I knew it was something I was good at. I left my position at the Fortune 100 company on New Year's Eve and had three weeks before I started my new job. I was nervous and depressed, but determined; I would make it through somehow, and I was going to be happier than I had been for the past year. 

The three weeks between ending one job and starting another was the most productive, creative, and fruitful I've ever had in my life. I found motivation to work on my photography business again, and boy did I give myself the kick in the pants I needed. It was worth it, too. My number of booked weddings has quintupled since last year. I have inquiries and consultations like I never believed possible. I've been able to attend seminars and webinars to continue my learning and be inspired and better. KLEM Studios is a living, breathing, ever-changing part of my life again. I finally feel like I'm servicing my clients the right way and giving them the attention and quality they deserve. I can see my work improving, although it will never be perfect. I can't thank my fiancé enough for being such a huge supporter of this business. He was the one that told me to have faith when I quit my job with no plan. He told me that he wanted me to focus on my business and put as much time into it as I could. He has been so incredibly wonderful, words can't even describe how lucky I am to have him by my side supporting me and being my "business partner". I've also had the bonus of loving my job at the beer and burger joint, it's been such a blessing in disguise and I continually thank my guardian angels for the directions they point me in.

I'm back to feeling like I can make a difference in this world, whether I'm behind the bar or behind the camera. I've become a part of each of my clients' lives, sometimes for only a short time, and sometimes for years on end. They trust me to pick a beer that pairs with their burger, and others turn to me to capture the most important moments of their lives. I get to be a part of people's weddings, or a baby's first birthday, or watch a new life be brought into this world. It's incredibly humbling. I know there have been some friends and family that were concerned about my return to the hospitality industry. Your caring means the world to me, and I want you to know that I am doing truly fantastic. I've never been happier, and I hold my future in my hands. Big things are going to come from these next years of my life. 

I also know that there have been some "friends" who have sneered at the fact that I'm bartending again, relishing in what they think is a step backwards for me. Well I've got news for you. The fact that you're concerned enough with my life to discuss these things behind my back makes me feel sorry for you that your life doesn't hold enough interest in itself for you to keep your feelings to yourself, that you feel the need to spew negative energy into the open. I hope you find happiness and contentment in your life soon. We women shouldn't be gossiping about each other behind our backs, we should be empowering each other to make the healthy changes in our lives and find our self-worth. I welcome the challenge to prove my non-supporters wrong, and I look forward to proving myself right, I CAN do this, and I will make photography my full-time career. And I'm going to be damn good at it. Because I've got the willpower, the support system, and the passion to make a difference. This will be my year. Big things are coming, and I can't wait to continue making a better life. In the meantime, I raise my glass to the ones who have been there for me, and I hope I can support you as much as you've supported me. And for the rest of you... I'll show you to the nearest exit now. This party is invitation only, and I only brought enough champagne for uplifting guests. 

Until next time,
Cheers to a better life

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