Just before ringing in the new year and happily bidding farewell to 2017, I was recognized at work and promoted from an associate to a lead on a small-but-mighty team within a larger-than-life company.
Though I’ve trained myself in these instances of praise to (sit down) be humble, it wasn’t hard to feel my self-esteem inflate just a bit. And for the first time in a long time, I let it. I was aware that this promotion didn’t come without a lot of hard work, patience, and commitment on my part. It also came with a lot of growth. A lot of learning. A lot of ups and downs. And a lot of questions.
I questioned whether or not this was a worthy career path that I’d forged for myself. Would I be able to find a living with this? Would I be able to find success? And most importantly: Would it make me happy?
With the promotion, I naturally became more steadfast and certain in my choice of career. I could look back at the process with a clearer and less precarious mindset and pinpoint exactly where that doubt originated.
Those questions I mulled over stemmed from the remnants of a dream I once had. One that I admittedly still look back fondly on and wonder about.
If three years ago you were to ask me what it was career-wise that I planned on pursuing, my eager and honest answer would have been event planning.
Long before I even realized I loved doing it, I was bringing people together. I loved seeing friends and family engaging with one another, chatting with someone they maybe hadn’t seen in a while and catching up on the time that had passed. I delighted in the idea of people from different walks of life gathering for a common celebration, whether it was a birthday, holiday, or milestone of some type. I couldn’t get enough of the contagious smiles or the sound of laughter that filled the air.
By the time high school came around, I had happily assumed the role of party planner for my tight-knit group of friends. Proms, yearbook signings, and weekend get-togethers were effortlessly arranged. Any reason for socializing was exploited as a reason to party.
Soon college was on the horizon, and decisions were being made on how I actually do this for a living. How could I step foot in the industry and plan events professionally?
With the dream of being a party planner (more specifically a wedding planner) as my North Star, I ended up at school in LA with a major in Marketing, ready to make something happen. And junior year, it finally did.
I interned for experience (no pay initially) with a boutique event company that produced weddings, mitzvahs, movie premieres, private parties, and more. I quickly learned how much work actually went into these large-scale productions. They were no after-school barbecue.
Recalling my first phone interview with my future coworker, Tiffany, she laid it out plain and simple:
“Party planning isn’t always a party.”
But if that was supposed to deter me, it didn’t work.
So they took their chance on what I’m sure they believed was a young, naïve girl with wide, eager eyes. I interned through that summer while working on the side at a floral company for some type of income. I grinded hard, loving every second of the vibrant and rarely static industry. Eventually, I earned my keep. They took note of my passion and commitment and, at the end of summer, they hired me to join their three-person team while I finished my undergrad.
I had done it. I could say with honest truth that I was an event planner. It was sincerely a dream come true.
Hold the applause, though. Because that dream didn’t last. LA took its toll on this easy-going gal from San Diego. I couldn’t keep up with the demanding, high-maintenance lifestyle of the entertainment capital of the world (not to mention its grossly congested highways). Come graduation, I was burnt out and ready for the comfort and ease of home.
I returned to San Diego with a slightly broken heart, but also with more determination than ever. I had a fuller resume and the confidence that I could excel in this industry.
It was easier said than done. No one was willing to hire me without first having me intern for months (without pay might I add) to gain an understanding of my skill level. That was something I was not prepared for.
I was forced to reevaluate my dream and re-prioritize what was important to me during that tangled season of my life. And I won’t be the first to admit that having a dream, holding it close, and letting it go . . . isn’t easy. It’s not easy at all.
That fall, I lost a bit of who I was. I felt like I had taken three steps back while everyone else was a leap and a bound ahead of me. I was getting left behind.
But it was in this darker period that I rediscovered an old spark. I filled my empty, jobless days with colored pencils and paper and graphite and, most significantly, words. I settled in coffee shops and I drew and I wrote and I began to feel inspired again.
In those moments, I realized that yes, it is a wonderful thing to feel passionate in what you do every day. And it is even more wonderful to be paid to do what you love. But even if you don’t, you can still find something worthy in that in-between. If your nine-to-five is monotonous or burdensome, fill the six-to-eight with something that inspires you or releases you from your tired day.
Eventually, I found a job. It wasn’t in the event industry or anything remotely creative, which was a hard pill to swallow. It was a sales job. But it was a paying job, and it forced me to take those critical first steps that eventually led me to where I am now.
And here I am, with the official title of Lead Copywriter.
In the past couple of years, I have become a firm believer in the cliché saying that “everything happens for a reason.”
If I didn’t move back to San Diego or get rejected time and time again. If I hadn’t filed my dream of being an event planner away for another day. I would have never uncovered my passion for writing. I would have never applied for the sales position that eventually opened the door to copywriting. I would have never had the courage to start A Thousand Candid Words.
I often get asked whether or not I would ever consider event planning again. And though it was (and sometimes still is) a huge part of who I am, I honestly don’t think I would. I look back on those days with a full heart and so much admiration for my former bosses. But it took one recent moment to realize that I’m exactly where I need to be. And that I’m not in any rush to leave.
In the interview prior to getting my promotion, my manager asked me what else I could imagine myself doing today, if anything?
To my surprise, my eager, honest, and immediate response was,