A Personal Coming of Age Story

Newlywed college grads make the tough decision to stay put and pursue their dreams from a new perspective.

You need a strong compass for those times when the signs are pointing in the wrong direction.

With the new year coming, I thought this personal story of mine nothing less than appropriate. It’s about change, opportunity and all the little decisions – that be they small are nonetheless difficult to make – that everyone has to make at some point. I will always contend, only you can know what is best for you and your situation, and thinking a situation all the way through will help tremendously in avoiding negative circumstances. Having said that, the following story is a little glimpse into a recent decision my husband and I had to make.

It all started with a decision that had already been made, actually. My husband, Eddie, and I recently had decided to pursue a rather advantageous career path. The change was risky and included an abrupt move to a far-away city, a hasty series of resume-building sessions and professional networking. Last but not least, the new plan would most likely have meant a large decrease in pay for both of us, which would mean uncertain financial circumstances – something that fortunately neither of us have had to deal  with before. With all odds against us, we were still 200% certain that we were doing the right thing and that change, especially this type of change, was right for us.

Just when we thought we had everything figured out, life dealt us a wild card.

After our lengthy and thorough discussions, and after all our efforts and energy we had put into our move from this Sunshine State to the mountain tops, we got a heavy dose of what life’s road blocks are really like, or what to us looked like one anyway. The last day of work before the holidays, Eddie went in and found out he’s getting a promotion.

Despite our plans, I was ecstatic to hear that Eddie’s was getting a promotion. It meant that he was gaining well-deserved respect from his company, his hard work was paying off and that we would have some newly found savings to use while planning out the move. I was thrilled to say the least. Nonetheless, the promotion would mean harder work for Eddie, more responsibility, more exposure and interaction with clients who more often than not find something to complain about, but it would also mean an increase in pay – something we had long looked forward to.

Be that as it may, there was no way we would let money stand between us and our dreams. We weren’t convinced that the move wasn’t the right thing for us at this time in our lives.

Me Climbing Machu Picchu. It was a long hike, but well worth the effort.

We thought we needed to pursue our dreams from the heart while we’re still young. Pursuing our dreams meant doing whatever it takes, despite financial hardship. Philosophically, we had everything under control. We didn’t mind getting a decrease in pay;  we aren’t that used to that much stuff anyway. As far as moving away from family. Well, many people do that and everything always seemed to turn out okay. These were pieces of our thought process that led us to believe that our dreams were more important than money. We still very much believe that, but there was one detrimental mistake we were making.

After we found out about the promotion, Eddie and I confided in a close friend who happens to be quite a bit older than us. I’ll refer to him as ‘Mark’ for simplicity’s sake and to respect his privacy. We needed advice about one of the most important decision one could make – follow your dreams or settle with the hand you’ve been dealt? Since our view of the world is rather confined by our age and thus by our limited experience in confronting negative circumstances, Mark’s advice was sure to humble us and give great perspective to our current situation. Fortunately for us, it did just that.

The first thing Mark hashed out was our thinking process. Everything doesn’t necessarily have to boil down to pursuing our dreams or making money. He taught us that our dreams could simply be pursued from a different angle, through a different mindset, and with less financial tension than our original plan involved.

What humbled us the most wasn’t actually advice at all, but rather a self-reflective question. Mark asked us something that would truly resonate with us, “Why go and move to an unfamiliar town to try to prove yourselves to an unspoken number of people you don’t know and who don’t know your potential, when you can stay right here, where the people you know know your potential and are more than happy to support your dreams?” We were silent with awe, obviously.

He went on, “You can stay right here, work your way up your current career path’s ladder of success while simultaneously financing your business dream on the side until that one day comes when you’re truly ready to cross over and make that difficult decision to leave your job for your true passion. You don’t have to start from the dirt bottom. You can keep the job you have, provide for your family now and slowly pursue your dream while never losing sight of what’s truly important – family and stability.”

I have always prided myself on being an opportunist. So, it was very eye-opening to realize I hadn’t noticed the opportunity standing on our doorstep. Staying didn’t have to mean ditching our dreams; it could mean the opportunity to approach our dream indirectly, by funding our business idea with the raise. Of course Eddie had immediately agreed to the new position, and we had said nothing to let on about our original decision being unfazed by the promotion. So, we were set to go with our new found perspective.

Eddie and Me Christmas 2010

Thanks to Mark and his ability to articulate his wholesome understanding of life, you won’t be seeing Eddie and me making the said mistake of putting the cart before the horse any time soon. And since our original plan had all to do with small business development and working from the bottom up, Mark’s advice was spot on and very much appreciated. So, for us, for now, we will be staying put, right here in sunny Amelia Island, left to pursue our dreams from a wiser standpoint.

I know it may sound like a sad story, with headlines reading, “Young Couple Trades in Dreams for Money,” but it’s really not. It’s the beginning of a long tale of two lovers; It’s an interesting turning point in the life of a young married couple; It’s a life lesson well learned – the ‘easy’ way, for once. Whatever you choose to call it, to me, it’s anything but sad.

We are still committed to pursuing our dreams. However, where there once was ambition, fervor and ideals, there now lie the realities of economic stability, business networking and patience. Some may call this a coming of age story. I would probably agree with that. This is probably the first of many coming-of-age moments in our lives, but we will still always remain hopeful and optimistic.

In time, we will see what comes of our decision to stay put. If we have done the right thing, we will reap what we have sowed. If not, no harm done, really. We will still have the economical means to pursue a new dream. Maybe start a little family. Who knows. Perhaps our next great opportunity is staring us right in the face, and we don’t even know it.

1 Comment

  1. Publisher

    There is much truth to the expression that “everything happens for a reason”. There is nothing more detriment to the staying power of a young (even strong) relationship these days than financial hardship, no matter the philosophical appreciation of material things. I think you guys will be able to keep the dream alive and still move forward as a solid unit. Kudos.

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