Four years ago, I was a bit lost. I was two years out of college, with a degree in music studies, and I had no clue what I really wanted to do. I thought about all the things I enjoyed doing most, and all the things I had any knowledge about, and I tried to picture me in a position where I could use those things.
I looked into (a bought a few materials for) teaching voice. I knew I didn't really want to focus on anything too serious there, but I had a friend who owned a dance studio and wanted to offer some voice options, and I thought that might be good for me. Of course, this was at the beginning of the recession, and people who were going to seek out a voice teacher were looking for something more than someone at a dance studio. Also, I really was 100% sure that's what I wanted to do, so I never really pushed the issue.
I looked into becoming a history teacher. I take issue with most public schools, though, so I knew I'd really want to work in the private sector. This requires a bit more education than just a degree in history or education (think masters or Ph.D), and I even took the time to investigate what I would need to do prior to continuing my education. Of course, since my degree was in music and not history, and I'd be attending a different school, I'd essentially have had to return to school for another 4 years just for a second Bachelor's, and then continue on. I didn't necessarily mind the work, but I couldn't afford the cost.
I was really struggling. I felt like I had no purpose. One of the few things that made me feel better was taking Cody out for walks or to the dog park or to some other fun place. He needed me. He needed me to brush him and bathe him and feed him and give him exercise. He gave me some sort of purpose, but I felt like there was more.
Then one day, my mom announced that she was going to dog training school. It sounded like a lot of fun to her, and she wanted to see what it was all about. This set my wheels turning. I LOVED dogs. I loved spending time with Cody. I loved hanging out with dog people. I loved watching dogs play. I just couldn't get enough of them. Suddenly I thought, "Maybe I should go to dog training school too!" And that's when I was struck with paralyzing fear.
I had already spent four years studying a subject that I'd originally loved. Music was my passion, and in four short years my passion had died in a fiery mess leaving me with destroyed confidence levels and quite a bit of self-loathing. I'd say it had left me with pile of sheet music too, but in a fit of rage after graduation I promptly destroyed most of that (a fact I still very much regret to this day). After spending so much time on a subject I once loved just to have that love destroyed, could I really go on to study dogs? Dogs was the only other subject that I loved as much as music. My time with dogs was the only other thing that I used as a coping mechanism when I was feeling down.
If I studied them, would I hate that too? Would my love for them be destroyed too? Would I be left the empty shell of a person with no purpose, no passion, and no love? If all that happened, what would become of me? I couldn't risk it. I couldn't risk losing the one thing I still had left to love. The one thing that belonged to me and only me. Even though Mom had invited me to join her at school, I just couldn't do it (another fact I regret). I made lots of excuses, and they were all valid, but the real reason was just that I was too scared.
Still, though, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. I kept thinking about it and thinking about it. I looked at websites and asked Mom about her school. Mom, in her infinite Mom-wisdom asked me to come visit her for a fun, weekend trip. I agreed to and we made plans for a few months in the future. And I kept thinking about going to dog training school. Finally I started to talk to people about it. I confided in Hans first. He's patient and understanding, and I knew he'd give an appropriate response. In his infinite Buddha-like wisdom he made it very clear that he could not make that decision for me, but he'd support me in whatever I did. He also made it clear that it wasn't necessarily a bad idea.
Next I confided in my closest friends. Like sisters to me, they cheered me on. "Do what you love!" they said. "We love you!" God, I love those women!
Next I confided in a close friend of mine at the time, Adam. I couldn't even bring myself to say the words out loud, and he and I often communicated via chat anyway, so that's how I told him of my thoughts. I told him how scared I was, and he was pretty straight forward. What he said will stick with me always. Essentially, he said, "I don't see what there is to be scared of. You know life right now sucks. You are afraid of doing this because it might not work out, but what if it does work out? That could be amazing." I was mad at him at the time for not understanding my fears, but I quickly became eternally grateful. He called me out on my bullshit, and told me to "put on my big girl panties and deal with it." (That is a direct quote).
Lastly, I decided to mention, just in passing, my ideas to my dad. I love my dad, but he often has some very set views on the world. When I told him I was going to college to study music, he tried to convince me to study engineering. If he thought it was a bad idea, it wouldn't necessarily mean that it was, but it would make going forward much more difficult. To my surprise, when I mentioned this little idea to him, he said he thought that was a great idea, and that I'd probably be really good at that. Well, that about did it. I was ready to go to dog training school.
A visit to mom, followed by a visit to a school closer to home solidified the decision. I was going to embark on a new adventure.
Now, I have been running my own business for 3 years. I am not going to lie. It is HARD. It requires a lot of time, a lot of effort, and very little sleep. It requires a lot of patience that I do not have. It requires organization and a lot of hard work. But the payoffs, the payoffs are great. Some people might not enjoy it as much as I do, some may even hate it, but for me it is perfect. Waking in a bed next to my hubby, snuggled by three dogs and two cats (now you know why we have King) makes it all worth while. Training a dog so he can find his perfect forever home makes it all worth while. Helping a family cope with their new puppy so they don't rehome her makes it all worth while. Being recognized as I pick up my race bib for my first 10k as "that lady who runs with her dogs all the time" makes it all worth while (and kind of awesome).
There are some major things in the works right now, and I hope to be able to share them with you soon, but in the mean time I want to do two things. First, I want to thank everyone who helped me come to this decision. Everyone who helped support me. Everyone who loved me even if they didn't agree with my decision. Everyone who helped my business grow. Thank you! Second, I want to share with anyone and everyone who may be feeling the same way that the fear you're feeling is normal, but it's also pointless. Not changing anything will never make anything better. Sometimes you have to do something huge to turn your life around. Just get out there and do it! Once you do, you'll wonder what you were afraid of in the first place.