In my 38 years on this planet, I feel like I’ve lived many different lifetimes. My childhood was splintered with rare moments of happiness. I don’t remember many snuggles or happy birthdays. Being poor and living with a very volatile family, even Christmas was stressful. I immersed myself in schoolwork because making friends was too hard and seemed pointless. All throughout my childhood I wanted to grow up and get away. My mom told me recently that I never seemed childlike. I was always independent, ready to be on my own and choose my own life. And that’s what I did. While the measures I took toward gaining my independence are not necessarily the most logical, they were successful. Running away and getting married to someone I didn’t care much for was stupid – yes – but it proved that I could do anything I want if I only set my mind to it.
From that mistake bred so much success. I grew stronger than I ever thought I could. With no one hovering their negativity above me, I made my mind up to be forever independent. When faced with the choice of moving back in with my dad or reconciling a pointless marriage, I blew everyone away and filed for divorce and joined the military. I was only 19.
In just that one year after high school, I had gotten married, joined the military, failed at a marriage and divorced, and finally moved out on my own. Justnlike I had always wanted. But it was a road to independence that was paved with setbacks. And with each one I was driven even harder.
In the Air Force, I didn’t excel during training. In fact, I failed my certification course. Being 19 and going through a divorce, alone, in a distant city with no friends, made concentration very difficult. But I refused to let failure define me. Again, determined to succeed (and driven by embarrassment), I set out to achieve the highest qualification possible and land the most prestigious job allowed for my rank in my field. I did both.
During this time, I met and fell in love with Chuck. And soon after my divorce was finalized, we got married. This wasn’t something I had set out to do, but I was so lucky. For once, luck had found me and I am forever thankful.
When my enlistment was nearing its end, I set out to get a job at NASA. It was something I had wanted to do since I was little. I faxed and emailed my resume 10, 20, 30 times to each contractor at the Johnson Space Center. Finally, one caved to the pressure and hired me. But less than a year after I had started my job, I faced a layoff due to budget cuts. Luckily a friend on another contract helped me on-board and I moved up one floor to a new job with more pay. But I could see that this was not a permanent fix and there was more I wanted, again.
I wanted to get my BA and I did. I worked full time at NASA and went to school full time at night. Finally, after two relentless years, I graduated. With my Communication degree in-hand I knew that I could do so much better than my dead-end contract job at NASA. And I did. I set out to get a job in my chosen field and found one (along with an enormous pay cut) in the marketing department at a large law firm. It re-launched my career.
Since taking that job in 2002, I’ve had eight different jobs. Each had a distinct purpose to get me to the next level. Each built a solid foundation to where I am now. Each step took perseverance, selfishness, drive and initiative. But I did it. I found the drive to go on to get my master’s and, thanks to the solid support Chuck gave me, finished that last year. I persevered, with a solid foundation and did that, too.
Even when getting pregnant, we tried for over a year. It wasn’t an easy road, albeit much easier than some. We worked together to bring Ava to this world and that perseverance paid off in immeasurable ways.
Now, as I’ve come to the point of wondering what’s next, I’m left wondering if it is time to slow down. Is it time to take inventory (as I’ve done here) to evaluate where the benefits lay? Is slowing down, being more present, being more of a wife and mother what is most important now? To that, I answer a definitive YES. As 40 approaches at lightening speed, I feel that my perseverance is best applied to developing the non-tangible benefits that life brings me. Clearly I have the drive to make almost anything I want in life to happen. And while it might not be a smooth pathway, I can get there.
I displayed my history of ambition, failure and success for all (5) of you to read here for many reasons. Maybe it was to show myself that failure is only temporary. Maybe it was to give myself a boost to my psyche. Maybe it was to show you that a life full of ambition and perseverance is worth it. And if for one minute you were doubting your own capability to make the difficult choices that could change your life, maybe I hope that this helps push you to take that step. It’s completely worth it. You owe it to yourself to jump into your next life.