Disclosure: Compensation was provided by U by Kotex. Words, thoughts, and stories are 100% my own.
I have to admit, over the past 2 years I have experienced some of the toughest emotions of my life. Making the decision to move away and finally “grow up” essentially, has been a battle between emotions ranging from depressed to ecstatic and everything in between.
When I moved on August 9th, 2013 I was on cloud 9. Getting the call from Florida while I was working a downright depressing and low-paying job, was just about the most optimistic thing I could have had happen to me since I graduated college.
As you well know, times have been tough for bachelor’s degree graduates to find work post-college, and although I convinced myself that if I worked my tail off and achieved the highest GPA I could, finding solace in mundane job opportunities failed to ease the disappointment I felt when I couldn’t land a “dream job”. Hours were spent scouring the internet in search of a job that would capitalize on all the skills I was eager to master in college, only to find out that these “ads” were really thinly-veiled illusions of grandeur.
I decided [like most other red-blooded 22 year old graduates] that my best bet would be to find a part-time job that I didn’t include flipping burgers and go back to school with the hopes that in another two years or so, the stars would align and I would fall happily into a state of contentment as the search for the holy grail of happiness finally revealed itself.
Fast forward a year and a half, after nearly (4 credits shy) earning my Master’s degree in athletic business administration I realized that I still had not found my bailiwick. The entire time I had been going to school I had been working with disabled and abused children as a behavioral therapist and while battling the drawbacks that come with the territory, I slowly realized that I did actually find solace in helping younger students find peace and control while learning new skills.
It had never occurred to me that I might want to be a teacher; mainly because of the low pay and countless hours of at-home work, but something in me started to light up each time I worked as a one-on-one inside a classroom. I decided then and there to put my athletic admin program on hold in pursuit of a future that seemed to fit me more.
In a few short months, I was on track to earn my M.Ed in Secondary Education and thrilled to be doing so. For two years, I worked with some amazing faculty and fellow students to learn the ins and outs of the job. Continuing on my part-time job as a behavioral therapist (TSS we called it), the best I thought I was going to get was a possibly jump in pay or rank at my current position when I finished my degree.
When Nate and I graduated in the spring of 2013, my parents were kind enough to send us on a congratulatory trip in Orlando where we enjoyed several days of sunshine and much-needed fun and relaxation. While basking in the sun that we hadn’t seen in months (we’re from Pennsylvania), a close friend of mine (who worked in the area as a teacher) suggested I get in touch with schools in the area for a potential interview opportunity.
Shortly after we finished a lazy breakfast in the hotel, I sent a casual email to a few schools, with no intention or hope of hearing back. Lo and behold, a mere twenty minutes later, I received an email from a principal, just 40 minutes south asking me for an interview.
Reluctantly, I agreed; and on short notice–she wanted to see me the next day (which, subsequently happened to be the very day we were set to go back home). Doning the only dress I had packed, Nate and I drove to the school (getting lost on the way) and I threw it all out there with no intention of giving this possibility a second thought.
We went home. Three weeks later, I still hadn’t heard anything. I had pushed the thought out of my mind thinking: “I’m from here, I’ll eventually find a job here. It may not be what I wanted, but something will come eventually”. Well it did come, and a few days later, I was sitting at my desk at work when I got the phone call. “Congratulations, Miss Damon. We’d love to have you on staff. You’ll need to fly down to process some paperwork and we’ll expect you on August 11th.”
Three weeks. The news hit me like a ton of bricks and it all started becoming very real. A possibility that seemed so minute in its chance of ever happening, happened. I wasn’t sure I was ready.
I’ve never really been the type to take chances, I’ve generally always played it quite safe in life. I was that child that didn’t risk climbing, getting dirty, or saying something wrong for fear of doing the wrong thing. “Do something, even if it’s wrong,” my mom used to tell me. Taking risks just wasn’t my forte.
And now here I was, standing at what seemed like the biggest theoretical crossroads I had ever come up against and I felt torn. Caught between taking the chance to completely turn my life’s path in a different direction, or stay put where I felt safe and knew what to expect.
A scary position to be in, to say the least. Another concern I had was “how am I going to leave my family? My friends? Nate? What would happen to us if I left and he didn’t or couldn’t come with me?” These thoughts haunted me, but I knew what I had to do.
Now, here I sit a little over two years later, getting choked up over telling my story and recounting all of the wonderful and horrible feelings I’ve encountered since that day. From making new friends as an adult to finding the strength to swallow my pride and do the right thing in a relationship, I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons. But one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am capable of taking that chance, and doing so has created a much more fun, assertive, self-reliant and confident me.
Taking this leap and finding my own strength within has been a tumultuous journey; one that I wouldn’t change for the world.
I’m always interested when companies like U by Kotex work to empower women, because it’s a message that we all try to send, but not many heed in the long run. Sharing stories of finding one’s inner strength will hopefully inspire women –especially young women– to feel like they’re not alone in this big and scary world. Even if they can’t find it within themselves right now, maturity and open-mindedness can work together to help pave the way to the path of confidence and self-reliance.
The pursuit of fearless femininity is a journey that all women end up taking [or should take] at some point in their lives; but also one that they should never be ashamed of. Making mistakes and fearing the outcomes can be a painful, but necessary process.
Without the gumption and confidence to try new things, you will never move forward. As crazy, scary, and awkward as it may seem, taking the leap ALWAYS pays off, especially if you have a wonderful and loving support system behind you every step of the way.
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U by Kotex packs are now available with a bonus pack attached (score!) at Walmart stores everywhere, so you get a little extra lovin’ when you shop!
I want to hear your story! Tag with #IndependentU 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your week!