The image that I put out to the public is one of self assurance, confidence, and an easy going nature. My hope is to show a mixture of slow and steady living with the occasional out of town adventure. To me this is an ideal lifestyle that is super easy to maintain. The challenge is that living a fulfilling and easy going life is not simple to obtain. For me it took some challenges, a lot of discipline, and a ton of heartache. As with life in general the downsides have greatly shaped my highs, and I appreciate the lesson that I’ve gotten from all corners. Today I wanted to share 3 major decisions that changed the course of my life forever.
Life Event #1: Graduating College
College gets a very bad rap in society, partly due to the surge in employment positivity and a consequent stigma around traditional life paths. This encourages people to pursue careers outside of ones that require a college degree, like a trade, or entrepreneurship. While these paths are needed and impactful, I find that graduating college was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Not only was it stressful to keep an acceptable GPA, but the financial aspect was abysmal. I went to a private Jesuit institution that focused heavily on STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). I went into my college career majoring in Biology, a major that was notorious for chewing up students and spitting them out. To say that I was nervous and felt inadequate is an understatement.
A number of people who knew me from childhood expressed doubt in my ability to succeed at staying within my major. It’s understandable since up to 80% of students grapple with making the change according to thescholarshipsystem.com. Part of my success in this was purely to prove to myself and others that no one could speak on my accomplishments or tenacity. Some things that my college degree provided for me:
- My foot in the door at a healthcare start-up tech company focused on cancer research (It’s also where I met my future husband).
- The connections needed to move into the university healthcare system, and eventually industry cancer research.
- The discipline and knowledge needed to carry out research in my everyday tasks.
College is not needed if you are going into an open industry that isn’t specialized, but don’t let anyone make you feel bad for going the “traditional” route.
Life Event #2: Experiencing Homelessness
My family of 6 was tip-toeing the poverty line for most of my childhood, so struggling with money was nothing new to me when I became an adolescent. However, this boiled over right after christmas of 2012 when I was packing to head back to school and I overheard my parents talking about our impending eviction from my childhood home. Hearing this news sent chills down my spine. Not only was life going to be hard for my brother who was still a teenager living at home, but I also had nowhere to go home to on my school breaks. It was basically graduate college and provide for yourself, or come back to live in your mother’s van. What a life that was.
On top of that my father left our family while we were moving out of the house and my parents eventually divorced. I was able to use this to be granted a large sum scholarship for the year, but my mom and brother were living in a hotel. I was absolutely gutted. This event changed my life for the better because I was able to see my mom maneuver homelessness with 1 of 4 children (and a dog) while being abandoned, working two jobs, and eventually getting a small house of her own. She was truly homeless for around 1 month before getting back on her feet.
This gave me the drive to work extra hard in school and stay focused. It was do or die if I wasted any time when this occurred. I decided to get a job while studying so that I didn’t need any money or care packages from my parents. This event forced me into independence, discipline, and inevitably confidence. Now I know if I ever lost everything, there are resources that I can use to get things together. But the most important lesson that I learned was the importance of your money working for you.
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Life Event #3: Discovering the Stock Market
Since the beginning of my personal development journey I have always been interested in ways to make my money grow over time. I used to be a pretty big saver and would get a huge dopamine hit when my savings account grew every month. I often heard the doctors and administrators discussing stocks and current events while at lunch at work, and I would listen for keywords to search on Youtube when I got home. This strategy unlocked the door to knowledge that is a true gift to anyone who is willing to learn. When I finally worked up the courage to open up an account I chose to invest in $ADM because my dad was working there.
Jumping into the stock market was the best decision that I have ever made in my life. Not only did it provide me with so much knowledge about personal finance, but my net-worth climbed out of the negatives and up to $60,000+. My upbringing did not afford me the thought of ever having a positive net-worth and I had no idea about it until I was 24 years old. Now whenever I can, I make sure to talk about the stock market to whoever will listen. Anyone who decides to open an account from a conversation with me is considered a positive impact that I am leaving in the wake of my life journey.
I see my life so far as a bundle of lessons that have propelled me to the spot that I am in now. It has shaped my decision making in who I spend energy on, how I spend my resources, and what I do with my free-time. These decisions are ways to guarantee a happy and fulfilled life, and I cannot think of any other 3 life events to have given me the privilege to make these choices. The key takeaways that I want you to take from this post are:
- Do not feel bad, left out, or behind in life because you chose to make a traditional choice. Society has people jumping on bandwagons every six months and they eventually die down.
- Stand firm in the decisions that you make with your life. If you choose to pivot, do so because that is what’s best for YOU.
- Use setbacks in life to propel you forward. What did you learn from the experience? What would you do if it happened again?
- Be open to new ideas from others. If there is a topic that interests you, look into it. everyone was a beginner at some point.
Thank you so much for reading this post, and be sure to share it with anyone who you think would benefit! I’d also love to hear your thoughts below on any life events that changed you for the better. be sure to check out my other similar posts, and I will see you next time!