One year ago from today I was laid off from a marketing position at a world-renowned design firm in Chicago. I had busted my ass to get my foot in the door and at the time it was soul crushing to get that phone call… That same week I got another phone call from my girlfriend, “we need to talk”.
Overnight, these two labels that I assumed as my identity – job title and boyfriend – ended.
Like a 900-pound blow to gut, I had to come face-to-face with myself. What am I? What is it that “I” am? If I am not a job title, if I am not a relationship status, what is it that remains?
Then something weird happened. Logically, I knew what I was supposed to be doing… I needed to find another job.
But I didn’t.
I can’t tell you exactly why, but something said ‘it’s going to be okay.’ And for whatever reason I believed it.
“I can’t tell you exactly why, but something said “it’s going to be okay.” And for whatever reason I believed it.” – Leigh Wasson
This was very unlike me at the time. I’ve always been someone who needs to be one step ahead of where I’m at. Always planning and scoping out the next move. But something triggered the question, “what does it feel like to be alive?” I don’t mean to go hang gliding, or climb Mount Everest, but what does it feel like to just be alive.
I had never really noticed before. My entire life had been one big hustle to get to the next thing. “Once you get there, then you can be happy.” But by the time you get there the target has moved and you’ve changed too.
So I paused. I walked around Chicago. For days, and weeks, just noticing. What does it feel like to be alive?
I made two rules: You can’t get a job. You can’t ask your parents for money.
Eventually, I got down to the last $500 in my checking account. To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t freak out. I heard that a guy I went to high school with had started an SEO company. Out of curiosity, I called him up.
He told me how he was helping really interesting companies get organic rankings in Google. He also told me how he was able to travel the world and choose his own hours. Sounded great. Yet, he was struggling to help his clients understand how to use social media.
That’s when the light bulb went off. I’ve done this.
We started our first client project off at $1200 a month, with what I had left in my bank account it was just enough to cover rent and some groceries. Then slowly week after week we started bringing on more clients.
Then the second light bulb that went off: why am I still in Chicago? (by now it was also dead of winter Chicago, I still love you Chicago)
I bought a one-way ticket to Bali. Now I live in Ubud and help businesses and start-ups find their audience online and generate targeted leads from social media (at a fraction of the cost of paid advertising).
Everyday I wake up and thank God I got fired.
Featured image by Gregory Cain.
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