Stuck in the Middle

The Intersection of Struggle and Direction

Late spring of 2018, a few months after returning to the U.S. from a bilingual French/Spanish missionary school, I didn’t know how to relaunch my once-existent corporate career. Nothing seemed to fit.  Returning to my prior life as a business journalist didn’t hold any appeal. Although I’d loved being the research director for the Jacksonville Business Journal, I couldn’t imagine going back into corporate media.

I’d been off the grid in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for too long to feel comfortable committing to a stuffy office with overhead florescent lighting where success is measured and billed in 15-minute increments of productivity. But I didn’t know what to do. Where should I start again? What could I start and develop that would naturally lead to bold opportunities in the future?

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

I struggled through the long, hard journey of finding direction as door after door seemed to shut right in my face. To add fuel to the fire, I’d just learned that my housing was unexpectedly changing, and I needed to find a new place to live. I felt like a total loser who couldn’t seem to leverage my talents, and if not for kind family members who offered temporary lodging, I would’ve been homeless. I was praying and believing something would come through, but my life felt like the pits. It was such a low point.

Amid everything that autumn, Pragmatic Works hosted a free weeklong training through called the Foundation course for people who are underemployed, seeking a career change or are unemployed. In 2018, they scheduled it for November – and the timing was perfect. About five years earlier, I’d met Brian Knight through our local chamber of commerce and taken a SQL course, so I knew that any training they offered would be outstanding. In my heart, I believed this could lead to a breakthrough!

Meanwhile, I was freelance writing and editing regularly  – although multiple part time gigs never seemed to add up to one full-time paycheck – and a shocking turn of events took place. The Friday prior to the Foundations class, one of my clients asked me to become a full-time editor at his publication, and then mid-week in the class, Brian and Devin approached me about onboarding as a trainer for Pragmatic Works.

So, in less than five days, I went from jobless and nearly homeless to having two offers on the table – without applying for either!

The editor role was offered at a salary that was twice as much as the training role, so originally, I thought that was the clear winner. But as the Foundation week continued, I found myself enthralled with the materials and passionately engaged in learning. Something sparked for the first time in a long time. It was like finding an oasis in the desert! Although the initial salary wasn’t as high, there was something deeply compelling about working with big data and business intelligence with cutting edge tools. And I could see so much potential, if I was willing to start my career completely over at the bottom and work up.

Definitely true!

I didn’t make any rash decisions. I prayed and weighed it out carefully. Originally, I basically told Pragmatic Works that it probably wouldn’t be them, and they were very kind and understanding. But when I talked to the recruiter they brought in-house on the last day of the class, he helped me narrow down my focus. He asked me where I wanted to be in a year or three years, and I said technology. He told me I couldn’t make a wrong decision, but the risk now versus the future opportunity needed to be weighed out in light of where I wanted to be someday.

I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.

~Clara Barton

So, I made the plunge. I took a risk and bet on my greater passion. And it was absolutely the right decision! I’m working my way through all my benchmarks and feel so thankful to work with amazing people who are genuine and very intelligent. I believe in what I’m doing and love to encourage others to learn! And none of my media skills go to waste; each day, I exploit my talents and see purpose, often in new and creative ways. 😊

I share this because many other people have gone through or are still walking through their valley. It may sound similar, or it may sound different in the details, but most of us will walk through really low and dark times in our lives.

Don’t give up! Dig deeper. Talk to friends and family. Pray.

And take those off times to learn and explore, because that may be the key to unlocking your direction, vision and deeper purpose!

Winner of the Pragmatic Works Annual Chili Cook-off! This trophy sits at my desk. 🙂