In November 2015, I sold my house in Canada, quit my corporate job, liquidated my belongings, said goodbye to my friends and family and set off on a solo journey to find a place to settle in Central America to open a little surf/yoga lodge. I've been on the road now for over a month. Since I've been gone, I've updated every other social media account with my status, with the exception of one, my LinkedIn account.
When you update LinkedIn with a new employment status, your feed reads so-and-so "has an updated profile". Or "Say congrats on the new job!" This terrified me so much that I hesitated updating my LinkedIn profile. I thought it may be career suicide if I did, because I wasn't replacing it with an employer and it clearly told the story to my peers that I was venturing out on my own. "What if my plan didn't work out? How would I ever get another job working in the apparel industry?" In updating my LinkedIn status, I'd be telling the world and (future job prospects) that I've left my long lasting apparel career to "follow my heart" and venture off to do something that I had very little experience in. Total flake. Ha.
When I set out on this adventure and started writing my blog, I wanted it to be written in a voice that was authentic. I vowed to write the way that I spoke. It would be informal, raw, vulnerable and subject to foul language. I would probably use "I", "it" and "the" to start a sentence more often than not. I won't always use full sentences. Yikes! On occasion, I may start sentences with prepositions. I wanted my audience to understand and appreciate every little thing I would go through and feel what I felt in the process of starting a new life in a foreign country, alone, with the intent of opening a little surf/yoga lodge.
So what happens when that prospective future employer actually reads the blog and find out that I'm not perfect: that I swear, that I've struggled, that I love dogs and coffee, that I want to find lasting love and have a family, and that, sometimes, I eat chips for dinner?
So what happens is...they find out I'm a real person. That's what. Maybe they can relate to me. Maybe they even wish they were me. Of course some will judge or discount me, but those won't be the people I'd want to work with or for, anyways. There is gold in vulnerability, authenticity and acceptance. When I have a business (notice I said "when", and not "if"), I'd want "real" people working for me. I want to know their story, their struggles and their joys. Life experience builds character. Struggle is sexy.
When I left Canada, I liquidated everything, as if I was never returning. Now I have updated my career status, as if I'm never going back to my apparel career. With both, I will never say never, I will just say that at this particular time in my life it is not what I want. Right now, I'm trying something new on for size.
I've had a long career in apparel. I have an impressive resume, working for two really strong retail apparel brands in times of high growth: Arc'teryx and lululemon athletica. I have experience working under and alongside some of the most progressive and inspiring leaders. I have experience working in three trendy lifestyle industries: yoga, outdoor adventure and mountain biking. I, I, I...
What I've accepted is that my life doesn't have to revolve around apparel or retail or what I did for work, for that matter. I'm actually pretty good at the brand and business development piece and I enjoy it, especially as I apply it to my own brand. I live for building the story and creating the identity, and that part is not limited to apparel.
The thing I loved most about my last few months at Arc'teryx, as product lead on the women's business squad, was bringing people together. I realized then and there that I am a Connector. To be more specific, I am a Connector-Maven. “People and relationships are important, and I can make them even better with my ideas.” This will sound familiar if you've read Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point. My strengths, as per Strengths Finder 2.0 are Ideation, Communication, Restorative, Strategic and Woo. Knowing these archetypes and strengths, respectively, are tools that I can use to my advantage, starting my little hotel, or whatever the industry, business or role I choose to pursue.
What I'm saying is, if I decide the nomad life isn't for me or if the hotel plan falls through and I decide to go back to working for someone else, I have options. I'm not limited by my employment status on LinkedIn or by the direction of my career path. Realizing and declaring this has been empowering. If in 5 months or 5 years, I wake up and I miss the apparel world or my Canadian life, I'm okay with that. I have confidence that I can walk back into it, with stories to tell, a better person for living them.
Changing my status on LinkedIn was scarier than anything I've done so far, because I had it in my head that what I did for work defined me. But LinkedIn is not my legacy and by saying that, today I feel liberated.
People have kept telling me that what I'm doing is brave. I can tell you that it is not for everyone. It's scary to disassemble the life you know and start again. But in that disassembly, you realize more and more about yourself and it becomes incredibly freeing. It's not necessarily about disassembly either. It's about journey and self-discovery.
Ask yourself questions. What is your journey? What is your legacy? Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 20? What feeds your soul?
In the article "How to learn to love your job and your life will follow" for Well + Good, Manesh Goyal talks about living in the grey and asks "What doesn't feel like work?" and "What's your side hustle?"
Accidental self-help guru, Mark Manson, says that "Who you are is determined by the values you are willing to struggle for", and that the most important question in your life is "What is the pain that you want to sustain?" That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.
So I ask you, "what are you willing to struggle for?" These are similar questions to what people asked me. Finally answering them got me here, writing a blog entry while swinging in a hammock in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
By sharing my journey with each of you, I hope that my story stirs and inspires something in you, however big or small, and prompts you to answer those questions for yourself.
Share my journey! Follow my blog, my Facebook page, my Instagram, and when I open my little surf/yoga lodge, come stay with me, introduce yourself and tell me your story.