Just Start Opening Doors

I was looking for a file on my computer yesterday and stumbled across my very first creation in Illustrator.

It’s total crap, of course, but I felt a little emotional looking at it:

I didn’t know anything about resolution (obviously) or sizing or cropping an artboard….nothing…but I didn’t care.  I was learning something new and was excited!

Learning something new could change your life

Learning something new is exciting.  It’s also pretty empowering. I had forgotten those first feelings of accomplishment until I saw this image.

So, why am I showing you this?

Because I want you to see that trying something new, learning a new skill, can change your life.

Today, I build websites in WordPress, create and edit videos in Adobe Premiere Pro, build all kinds of things in Illustrator and I have my own business- but this didn’t magically happen overnight.  I’m finally doing what makes my heart sing, but the way I got here was on a road of switchbacks up a cliff, with loose boulders threatening to derail me at every turn…especially if I allowed myself to be crippled by the risk.

Sometimes, you don’t know exactly what you want to do or change…it’s just a vague feeling that you want more.  Like being in a house that’s actually a maze, you might freeze because you don’t know where to start.  You just know you want to get outside.

When you’re in that place, just start opening doors!

Back in 2015, I started opening as many doors as I could to find the life I wanted to live.

It doesn’t matter that what you do in the beginning is total crap.  You just need to START.

I started with a Skillcrush class to learn html and css.  My first door. 

Then I started learning about writing good copy.  My second door.

Then I took a class on SKILLSHARE to learn Illustrator (Bonnie Christine does fantastic courses on using Illustrator) for just $10 per month.  My third door.

And I just kept going.  I even completed a data science course to see if I liked it (data scientists make great money!).  I didn’t.

Life Moves Fast!

Life moves fast…I mean, it hauls ass all the time.  It’s easy to get swept up in its path with all of our obligations where suddenly it feels like you’re living a half life…that vague maze feeling I mentioned.

In 2015, I was living that life.  Plodding along the stable-but-unrewarding-job path.  Familiar with this?

On one hand, you’re thankful for the job.  On the other, you’re not very happy.

Anyone who survived the 2008 recession and got the crap kicked out of them (like my family did) still carries a bit of that panic inside.  Like the ground can give way at any time.  We know that stability is an illusion (if the housing market crashed the world economy, anything can happen), but, we hang onto things like an unrewarding job because we’re GENUINELY thankful to have a job in the first place.

Collecting an unemployment check left a mark on a lot of us.  A putrid blob of fear.  But survival thinking won’t serve you. It certainly wasn’t serving me.

In the Spring of 2016, I’d finally had enough of a bad boss and quit to pursue a career in tech.  I stayed in that position longer than I should’ve because that steady paycheck was like a shining beacon of light.

After reaching a breaking point though, that was that.  I looked at lots of tech related job descriptions and felt woefully inadequate even though I had learned some cool tech skills.  So I just kept going. YouTube is my BEST FRIEND.  That combined with udemy and skillshare was insanely valuable as I learned the core Adobe Suite.

After applying to design firms and some tech companies and getting ZERO response, I was disheartened to say the least.  It was a hard pill to swallow realizing that I was in my late 30s with no clear career path or shining accolades.  I was the girl who everyone said was going to “go places”.   Instead, I was sitting at home in my active wear and messy bun, drinking coffee, wondering that hell just happened.

But I kept going…luckily I was able to do some freelance work while I continued to learn.

I also started listening to powerful podcasts by Lewis Howes, Mel Robbins, Marie Forleo, Tim Ferriss and my favorite- Gary Vaynerchuk (lalalala love his philosophy).

These people helped me take my new skill skills and do what I had really wanted to do all along- work for myself and run my business exactly how I want.  I had been building my skills to appeal to a large employer (when I was in that survival/permission based thinking), but found my calling instead.

Their words encouraged me to keep opening doors and now, here I am.

I’m still opening doors! I’m still learning!  But I don’t have that vague feeling anymore…that miserable half-life feeling.  Now, I’m living in a place of gratitude and it’s completely different from where I was just a few years ago.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about the power of gratitude and how it’s one of the best doors to open of all.

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