The past few weeks have been hard ones for me. Not just because I am 37 weeks pregnant, or because I have been ill with an endless cold and barely sleeping. No, it’s been hard because I find myself wondering if I made the right career decision in leaving my “real” job in order to pursue my own independent career. And, I find myself wondering what it is going to be like once Baby R enters this world. How will I juggle The Style Safari?
The Dream Career
A bit of background: I graduated college in 2007 and went into a retail management training program, which led me into Buying and Merchandising roles at some of the biggest and most prestigious fashion companies. While not every job was the perfect one for me, they were all incredibly good learning experiences, from building my financial acumen, pricing and inventory concerns of retail, to buying product and developing new categories, and mastering packaging and in-store displays. After almost 10 years in the industry, my skill set and confidence was high that I was going somewhere in this industry.
I always wanted to be CEO or head buyer/merchant for a retailer, and felt that I was well on my path. I am very proud of the businesses that I built and the relationships that I made, and still 2 years out from working in this world I consider myself an ‘expert’ in this category. I worked hard to earn a salary that I never thought I would achieve by the time I was 30, a position of influence within a company, and felt like what I had to say actually mattered. But I decided to leave the corporate world when I moved across the country with my husband, in order to pursue personal goals and expand my knowledge base for something…. I still haven’t quite figured out yet.
A New Dream…? Or an Unfortunate Reality?
Here’s the rub.
I’m a little over 2 years out from working in the corporate world, and about to have my first child, which will undoubtedly bring me at least 3 months of sacrifice, struggle and of course, personal learning.
But with this baby forcing me to hit the pause button for at least a few months, I am undoubtedly going to be forced to rethink my career path. And that reality has me seriously stressed.
Yes, I’m thrilled with my followers and the growth of The Style Safari. But what is next?
What I am continuously struggling with is my pursuit of happiness. What really makes me happy? What makes me feel fulfilled? Although I have pursued many passions over the last 2 years, it is a constant struggle to evaluate whether or not I am on the right track in my personal pursuit of happiness. And the reality that I am having a child means it’s going to become even harder to pursue that passion, whatever it is (my problem is that I have too many interests to determine what my true passion is, I think!).
Of Course I Read Lean In
We all know by now the idea that this is the time in a woman’s career where she should “lean in” to her job, whether we agree with this statement or not. Should I restart my corporate career? Is The Style Safari on the right track? How will it change with Baby R? I find myself fantasizing about putting on heels and walking into a big marble foyer of an office building, debating a solution to the latest product issue with my fellow cross functional teammates, and attending conferences and big product launches of products that we can be proud of. As a blogger I have interactions with so many large companies, and there are some that I would work for in a heartbeat if given the chance… but most of them are based in New York which makes it even more difficult.
While sometimes I dream about going ‘back to work’ in the corporate world, I also appreciate the flexibility and independence that I have built with my current *several* jobs. I find myself wondering… when is it too late to switch directions? Whether that be moving back into a corporate role or completely changing up The Style Safari. And with a baby on the way, doesn’t that decision become even harder?
So what about that whole Motherhood thing?
Many women find themselves struggling between being a successful mom and having a gratifying career, and given the cost of childcare etc., end up leaving their corporate jobs to take on the most important role, mom. And I can understand this decision, I am just not sure if it’s for me. Right now, once I have this baby I will continue doing my 3-4 various jobs that keep me busy and make money, but none of them are paths that will lead me down a greater road of career satisfaction. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy them, but I am not confident enough in my skills in any of those to feel like I can grow 1 into a much bigger career and drop the others.
But then again, I haven’t lost my confidence that I could go “back to work” in the same way I used to as well. Yes, I am worried that my mind is not as sharp as it used to be (I used to do all sorts of financial calculations on the fly), but I know that will come back over time. Then, I am sure there will be the sleepless nights, motherhood worries and the constant guilt of making the wrong decision every time I leave my child.
And the biggest fear of all? That I am not setting the greatest example for my daughter of what a strong, successful woman looks like. It doesn’t have to be a woman with a powerful career, but I want her to know that her mother actively pursued her dreams, and whatever her dreams were, she achieved them. Right now I can’t say with confidence that I have done that, and this is my greatest fear. I am so lucky to have parents (and brothers) that knew what they wanted to do and DID IT, which always set a great example for me. What will it be for me? I don’t know…because it is still a work in progress. But I don’t know if I can inspire and support that family with my current career path.
It’s so difficult to create your own path, to wake up every day and struggle with what you should try to accomplish, to juggle ‘being at home’ with ‘building a future’. I find myself wanting to go back to a corporate job not just to flex my brain and creativity muscles and work with a team, but to have a clear goal and a path to get to that goal.
So…. now what?
I don’t know. I decided to write this to share a little insight into my brain… both for you readers and for myself. I was hoping that getting my thoughts down would provide me with some clarity. So, how do I take a inside to really evaluate my career goals? What is my true passion?
And really, I can’t even make that decision until Baby R is here anyway.
I guess the moral of the story is that whatever I decide to do, I need to be fulfilled. And if I’m not being fulfilled doing what I’m doing, then it’s time to change. Whether I decide to blog full time, build my interior design business, go back to corporate fashion, start a new company or fully embrace the role of ‘mom’, I know these are all things I’ll enjoy, but are they my true passion? And, will they make me confident that I am setting the best example for my future children?