Deaf On Purpose
Okay, so I’m not the best at coming up with blog titles, but this is the only way I can describe a very common phenomenon that all of us have experienced at some point. You know that voice in your head that asks you about the certainty of your decisions? The one that sounds kinda like your own voice and starts to make you rethink things? The one that only seems to nag you whenever you are already 99% confident in the choices you’ve made? It’s annoying, and it frequently presents itself as some kind of self-doubt, although it is very different.
After graduating from college, I started working in supply chain management. I met some of my new lifelong friends, and I learned many lessons about what NOT to be. I left that job after a year and a half to pursue a business opportunity with a pet boutique owner. The goal was to expand her business by opening a new location that I would be responsible for, but the partnership fell through and I learned to be thankful for that later on.
After taking a few weeks to heal from the enormous change in plans, I decided to get my real estate license. I made $100 from renting my bestie an apartment close to my house (so we could keep up with our weekly wine nights, duh). It only took me $4,000 in startup costs to realize that I should have never become a real estate agent.
During all of these transition periods, my inner voice would ask me questions like, “Hey, uh, really? Real estate? Aren’t you like, 24? And you’ve never actually purchased a house before?”
Cue intentional deafness…
I would respond (in my head, of course), “Yeah, but none of that matters and I’ll just work really hard and it will become a good fit”. WRONG-O.
Following yet another disappointment in career choice, I ended up working in the medical field. It started with me being an office assistant for an optometrist part-time, then a surgical/ophthalmic assistant full-time, followed by a small break to be a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities before going back to ophthalmology, and finally, as a patient care tech at a children’s hospital.
I did end up falling in love with the medical field, and it was right around that time that my dad was diagnosed with stage III-c esophageal cancer. Having experience in patient care and medical terminology allowed me to care for him in a completely different way. It was so empowering, and it made me decide to go back to school for nursing. I dove head-first into school and got the best grades I’ve ever had (probably because I also wasn’t pre-gaming with Jagermeister before going out until 2am like I did during my first round of college).
I completed all of my pre-requisites for nursing and within a month of getting ready to apply for schools that had an ABSN program, my dad passed away. After a year and a half of battling cancer with the most bravery I’ve ever seen in a person, it happened. I completely fell apart, and I took a month off of work from the hospital to compose myself. To be honest, I am still trying to learn how to exist without him. My voicemail box is full because I can’t bring myself to delete any of the voicemails he left me, even if a few are from when he accidentally butt-dialed. “Julie Baby, how are ya? How’s Miss Sophie? Is she behaving?”
My boyfriend, Mac, and I went on a short trip to Texas a few weeks after his passing, and I found my inner voice screaming at me about where my life was headed. I’m still not sure if it was my inner voice or if it was my dad trying to give me some heavenly guidance, but after a few beers at a really cool Texas brewery, I brought up a subject that I hadn’t visited in years: opening a pet boutique of my own would be really cool.
Mac and I went back and forth about what that would look like, and what a big decision it would be to use the money I had set aside for nursing school to open up shop instead. I had some reservations about it because I would only do it if I could find the perfect location: downtown O’Fallon, walkable, big enough to allow for giant dogs to “shop” with their parents, and a place I wouldn’t have to completely demo to make it work. Just for kicks, I pulled up LoopNet.
Holy. Hell. There it was, in all of its glory: a really old building with no working plumbing or electric, complete with 100-year-old spider webs in each corner. My inner voice stopped screaming at me at that very moment, and instead whispered, “You have to see this place in person”. We flew home the next day and scheduled a showing.
It was perfect. I mean, absolutely perfect. A blank canvas for me to truly make it my own. As soon as I took my first steps inside, my inner voice said one word and it was crystal clear, “Yes”. I could see it all coming together…bright and airy colors, marble bathing stations with gold fixtures, a giant barn door to close off the back part of the space, and my dad’s picture with his dog, Lucky #1 (my dad had three dogs named Lucky).
A week later, the LLC was set up, and a week after that, I signed a lease. It was a crazy 90 days, but with the help of my incredible family, ultra-supportive boyfriend, and workaholic construction team, my dream came to life. My mom was a saint throughout the whole process. Whenever I’d have those moments of “WTF am I doing? What if everyone hates it? What if I’m being delusional?”, my mom would give me the most polite, thoughtful kick in the ass and I’d snap out of it. Mac was great at shifting my perspective from a business sense, reminding me that this is a small business with big potential and that I’m a badass that can handle it. My brother, John, kept my creative juices flowing and would get me amped up about all of my wild ideas. After months of being a complete pain-in-the-ass for anyone that had to deal with my compulsive, Type-A self, Furchild opened to the public on December 8th... approximately 91 days after Mac and I had those beers in Texas.
Holy. Shit. What. Just. Happened.
I was so focused, obsessed, with nursing, and now I’m the owner of a specialty pet boutique that gets to bring my beasts to work and help the people in my community be the best pet-parents. It’s an amazing feeling, and I frequently catch myself sitting behind the counter, staring at the picture of my dad and Lucky. And that is really how I feel these days: Lucky. I’m so glad I chose to listen to the voice in my head instead of debating it.
Here are a few things I’ve learned during the past several months:
Every experience in your past has a purpose in your future. Your hard times will teach you compassion and patience, and your good times will teach you to celebrate life. Nothing is permanent, and being your best at whatever you’re doing is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. It will pay off, I promise.
Every single person in your life is critical to your success. Whether they support you and help you reach your goals or shit on your dreams and make you doubt yourself, they are important. Be like the good ones, and do everything in your power to be the opposite of the dream-shitter-oners.
Your idea doesn’t suck, people will love it, and you are not delusional.
If you choose to be deaf on purpose, you will stay on your hamster wheel. If you choose to listen to the voice in your head, you may learn that you aren’t even a hamster and you have no business being on that wheel.
Time to shine,