On Diving in Headfirst

I love watching the Olympics!

One of my favorite events to watch is diving. This, despite the fact that, as a kid, I remember watching Greg Louganis’s infamous dive when he hit his head on the board during the 1988 Olympics and despite the fact that I’ve never been good at diving myself (I had to take a swimming class in college and I’m pretty sure I only passed that class because my professor got tired of watching me belly-flop into the pool).

There is just something so beautiful about watching Olympic athletes elegantly twisting and flipping their bodies before slicing through the water headfirst at just the right angle. So it’s fitting that I would choose this time to take my own dive, headfirst into the business world.

You might have noticed (though—let’s be honest—most of you are probably too wrapped up in your own worlds to notice such things) I haven’t posted to my own blog in a couple of weeks. That’s because since I took my dive, I’ve been busy treading water.

Now that I’m back on solid ground, I’m ready to tell my story. Here’s what happened during the past two weeks:

  • I went to a Mastermind workshop with a great group of women entrepreneurs, who helped me find my “why” (Simon Sinek—Dr. McDreamy of the business world), identify my ideal clients, and focus my messaging for The Pocket PhD.
  • I picked up a steady gig as a junior copywriter and landed a new client. I’m starting to see the work I’ve been doing for the past couple of months to build my business payoff, which is a great relief, since…
  • I quit my full time teaching job (Yay!!!). I’m not sure there are words to capture how I felt last week when I walked into my chair’s office to tell him I was resigning and leaving the philosophy profession altogether.
  • I also moved from Myrtle Beach, SC to Carrboro, NC. Not being one for long, drawn-out, tearful good-byes, I decided to move before I actually quit. Moving first was also my way of tying myself to the mast. Like Odysseus passing by the island of the Sirens, I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t find myself stranded back on the rocky shores of academia this fall.

I know that some people consider my dive to be bold and brave (maybe even a bit rash), but it doesn’t feel that way to me. I doubt that Olympic divers feel bold and brave perched at the end of the board with the whole world watching. If they did feel all of that weight, they wouldn’t be able to perform the way they do. They are just focused on doing what they have been training their whole lives to do. In a way, I feel I’ve been training my whole life to make this transition.

I’m not telling my story to make you feel inspired to chase your dreams. I’m no life coach and I’m no believer in: “if you can dream it, you can do it.” My dream was to get tenure and teach philosophy to college students and you know how well that dream worked out for me. My story is not about chasing my version of Olympic gold. It is about finding my place by owning my actions (this also happens to be a bit part of my “why”).

This is the lesson to take away from my story: If something is making you unhappy where you are, take ownership and figure out what you’re going to do about it. The worst thing you can do is resign to staying where you are because you don’t know what to do—not knowing what to do is just a temporary lack of imagination. There is always something that you can do. Even if all you can do is change your perspective about the present moment, that’s better than wallowing in misery.

A year ago, I found myself staring down a future I didn’t want. I hadn’t considered what I could do other than teach philosophy (having a backup plan seemed like selling out my one-pointed career goal). But once I decided to really own my situation, things started falling into place in a way that made sense. Now I am happily dancing on the wreckage of my past self.

Are you ready to own your story? I can help you find your voice.

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