I remember as a kid, packing my bag, my quick hobo bag, and shouting for the entire world to hear, “I am Running Away.” I remember the feeling of no-one running after me, begging me to stay. I wanted so badly to call their bluff, but I was a Suburban kid. Like, where was I going to go? I had no survival skills, no money, no desire to live on the streets of DC, and really, no feasible way to get there even if I did. I hate feeling stuck. It’s literally the worst feeling.
Each time (and there were many) I made the decision to run away, I got about as far as our driveway. I would climb into my parents car and sit. Obviously, I was extremely lazy, or perhaps resigned. I could have walked one mile to the pool or to the park, but I didn’t want to be discovered, so I crawled into the back seat of my parents car each and every time, wishing I had more gumption, more wanderlust, wishing that I wasn’t so stuck.
Which is why I oftentimes look back puzzled on my early adult years. Upon turning 18, I had a sizable savings. All my birthday money from my grandparents, the money I’d earned as a lifeguard for two years, babysitting money, etc… It was enough for a plane ticket anywhere.
Yet, I stayed in Northern Virginia, preparing for college! I didn’t travel, I didn’t find my own place, I didn’t buy my own car, I worked and went to college. I stayed stuck.
Now, this is typical for most American teens, I’m aware of that. They, like me, are told from early childhood onward that college is in their future. There are no maybe’s, there are no alternative options, it’s college or bust.
But see, I was told a lot of things that I refused to conform to. Ask my mom, conformity is not my jam. It never was. I’m a hard-headed Irish Leo. I don’t do what other people tell me to do. I typically do the opposite, whether good or bad. I literally feel heat when confronted with “Authority”.
So, it goes without saying that I’m that mom, the one who doesn’t believe in the Village. Leave my kids alone and if you have an issue, talk to me, then I will decide whether or not your issue is valid with regards to my kids. It drives me nuts when other mom’s take it upon themselves to chastise my child for doing something as innocuous as climbing a tree. Give. Me. A. Break.
I wrote a book about parenting, I’m the self-professed expert, not them and I would not be caught dead giving anyone else’s child heck for much of anything. But, I digress…a lot.
Which leads me back to my puzzlement of my original complacency, in my early adult years. I literally agonize over this at times. Sometimes I feel like I wasted 4 years of my life chasing a dream that was never mine to begin with. The 9 to 5 scene was never going to work for me. There was nothing at college that interested me, except the parties and the friends. I didn’t take it seriously, though my grades stayed high, curiously.
First and foremost, because God’s plan was for me to meet the most amazing man in the world during those years. So I accept the path I chose, because without Dan in my life … I can’t even fathom. Thousands in student debt and two majors that I never used to get any job in my life later … I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because I found Dan.
But, I didn’t know that then. “Husband” was not my goal. I was going to be a high powered lobbyist, yo. At least that’s what I told people because it gave meaning and purpose to an otherwise wasteful 4 years.
But, that’s not even why I went to college. I decided lobbyist while in college. The fact that I went to college was because, literally, I thought, “what else am I going to do?”
My family didn’t travel, so I didn’t even think of that as a possibility. I lived a very sheltered life. I had no clue that hopping on a plane to Timbuktu was an option. I mean, you don’t think about what you have no exposure to, which is why exposing our kids to a world of different options is our goal.
When you are surrounded by sameness, you tend to be the same. All my friends, all my cousins, all my neighbors, all the people in my little sphere of the world went to college. There were no choices.
I want, we want, choices for our kids. We want so badly to show our kids how wonderful life is meant to be, how exciting, how fun it can be before they automatically go down the road of believing, incorrectly believing, that life is all about how much money you make.
I listen to 20-somethings and they talk about the big careers they have in front of them. They think, like I did. That after graduating from college, they are going to be able to walk into an interview and walk out with a $50,000 salary. Some go on to make it to the BIG time. Others go on to live paycheck to paycheck.
Let me tell you a funny story. I worked my way through college at a Direct Mail Company. 9-5, dresses required. The owner loved my sass, my don’t tread on me attitude. I answered their phones, made photo copies and ran errands for the owner … dry cleaning, etc. I even was invited to go to a Cavs game with the top brass of the company.
At the Cavs game the company had arranged private digs and we were ordering food and drinks prior to the start of the game. I ordered a gin & tonic. I heard the owner whisper to the VP, is she 21? The VP shook his head. The gin & tonic came anyway as did a 2nd. I am known for pushing the envelope, for not asking permission.
I tell you this because, one it’s funny and two because it shows how office politics work. They all loved me. I worked really hard and I added a youthful, fun dimension to a pretty dull environment. I mean, one day, the office manager dared me to run next door to the apartment complex and jump in the pool, fully clothed with the promise I could leave immediately after. Of course I did it.
So, upon graduation, I marched into Linda’s office (she was in charge of hiring) and told her I graduated and wanted to be promoted to writer. Poor woman, probably wanted to howl with laughter, but instead she told me that is not how it worked and that, although I was a good employee, I was not going to get that promotion. I remember being shocked into silence for a minute. And then I quit right there on the spot in indignation because I didn’t get what I’d been promised.
That, my friends, is actually “not how it works”. Linda was right. If you choose to go the career path, which is perfectly fine, there is a science to it. You start at the bottom and year after year, you climb that ladder, and eventually, if you are lucky, you reach the pinnacle of the typical salary for your professed career path. And then, you hang there until retirement…if you are lucky enough to retire.
On the flip side, if you choose to go the entrepreneurship route, it’s a crap shoot. You know how many businesses we have started and, either quit because they were not at all the way we wanted to live, or because we failed? So many, I’ve lost count. We would start something and realize quickly it wasn’t gonna work and move on. The one thing we had going for us was our ability to fail quickly … we wasted no time!
People wonder all the time how the heck Dan has managed to support all 14 of us and I always tell them, a job sure as heck didn’t do it. The only way Dan could possibly have supported us like he has is to not have a salary cap. The only way was to have the ability to always make more money, but that takes more time away from family … life is such a game of give and take, ups and downs and the only thing that is constant is change!
Now, the only thing that has reliably ever brought in enough money to fully support our enormous family is Dan’s skills as a Software Engineer.
And, you wanna know a secret? He doesn’t have a degree. He’s completely self-taught, self-educated. He started his company at the ripe old age of 24. And built it and built it until it was self-supporting. Truth be told, it took off with a bang, so much so that Dan’s dad seriously asked him if he was dealing drugs! But then it flatlined. And then, it grew slowly, lots of peaks and valley’s through the journey, lots of employee status throughout the years as he worked on making his company what it is today.
Dan has resilience, he has drive. And that, is an absolute must have in the world of entrepreneurship. You have to want it bad enough to push through the failures, to push through the crazy long hours, to push through the stress, the hardships and the total lack of sleep.
Which is pretty symbolic of life. Seems synonymous that if you survive entrepreneurship you have the skills to withstand most of what life throws at you. Without determination, without resilience, without a deep inner drive to survive, the struggles, the suffering that life inevitably throws at you could legit drop you to your knees.
But for all of you who are reading this … you are survivors. You keep going, regardless of your circumstances, regardless of your struggles, y’all wake up every morning and probably go to a job you dislike because you need it to survive. Everyone has been there! Everyone.
But, what if I told you, you could endure the same struggles, the same financial hell many of you are living under, but at the same time, be working toward something that has the potential to change your life? Cuz I’m telling you that now.
There is nothing stopping you from going to your 9 to 5 and then coming home and working on your “side project” until the wee hours of the morning. Working through the pain for one week, one month, one year will eventually bring you the results you are looking for. When you get through that pain, something else takes its place … and that something else looks a lot like freedom!
This is exactly what both of us did, until the early early morning hours. Eventually, we found our callings (outside of parenting). In areas we never saw coming, in one million years. I mean, let’s talk about me. I help people get physically fit and financially free. It has added such immense value to my life.
Me, a momma of 12 … doing something I never thought I’d have a passion for … and in the process, enhancing my life and the life of my family. All because I got fed up with my own fitness level, my own weight and I looked for answers for me. And when I found something that worked for me, I was able to pass it on to friends and family …
You have no idea how things will work out for you. Keep an open mind, don’t listen to naysayers, surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed in all areas of your life. Work tirelessly toward your goals, be unstoppable, don’t compromise and don’t be afraid to take unexpected, wild paths.
You see, society boxes you in and restricts your options based on its expectations. You are literally primed for admittance to college in elementary school. “Get good grades so you can get into a good college.”
But yet, any deviation from the norm is considered abnormal and weird. I mean we are kinda scorned and looked down upon by those that simply don’t understand. Don’t believe me? Read the comments on any article that has ever been written about us. Take this most recent one, for example.
It’s so hard to deviate from how you were raised and what you have been told is absolute truth. I get that.
But what about after college? A degree doesn’t promise financial freedom or security or anything else that you might deem worthy.
We are firm believers of going after exactly what we want. Dan’s resilience, his drive to create something from nothing, and my penchant to run away, are quite seamless. We both want something different.
And we are not so much running away from society’s idea of what is normal, but rather, running towards something exceptional and extraordinary, really. Something completely unknown and exciting.
We are running hard and fast toward new experiences, new people, new mountains, new rivers, new adventures.
We want more options than what we were given.
But, most importantly, we want more options for our kids. I want them to make decisions for themselves based on varying life experiences. Our goal is to show them the world, then they can decide what part they want for themselves.
Start running toward more, y’all, whatever your more may look like!!