This story is revealing and way too honest – but my hope and intention of sharing it is to inspire others that may be struggling with depression, struggling building a new business, or just having general fears about life. Sometimes we all need a little inspiration! I’ve been searching for my own inspirations lately, and felt the need to share my story…
It’s officially been four years since I opened the doors of my little store in May of 2012 – and I’ve come a long way since then! Heck, I’ve come a long way since my days of being expelled from high school and having a report card with straight D’s and F’s and days I plotted my very dramatic suicide. Hope, progression and a constant, burning perseverance have gotten me to a point where I am now. A place far removed from how I was as a teen – directionless and not even considering the thought of future goals or plans. Heck, I was plotting my own suicide! Why did I need to think about college?!?
my turning point
Well, some sort of miracle happened – and no it wasn’t the multiple visits to a psychiatrist, the labeling they put on me (and “diagnosed” me with two conditions that I know now I don’t even have) or the plethora of anti-depressants or diagnoses thrown my way. It was God! I had been an atheist, borderline devil worship really. But, one day, after a bad experience experimenting with a cocktail of drugs and hallucinating all night, I found myself praying and begging to the God I swore I hated. Some people wonder why I have such a strong faith and conviction for God. I had an experience that night that when I awoke the next day, it was as if I was noticing the world for the very first time. The grass was bright green, the sky was a beautiful blue – and I had HOPE. For once, my heart was filled with joy to be alive. I was grateful! I was grateful that I got another day to change things for myself. From then on, I never “experimented” ever again, and had full faith in the future and that God would take care of EVERYTHING. I now felt him walking with me and felt his presence so strongly in my life that I could do ANYTHING! In the time following that experience I felt I had a lighter, more kind heart. I felt compassion, and love. Yes, I still struggled with my temper, but hey, I was a hormonal teenager – and no it wasn’t ADHD or Bipolar Disorder… it was hormones and just a teenage depression.
To read more about my life transition, this very nice lady wrote an article about me in the Free Lance Star (twice), found here (2013 article) and here (2011 article). Not to brag or anything, just to share my story in the hope of building up others.
finding my place in the world
So, over time – from about 16 (I’m guessing because I can’t remember!) on, I started focusing on what my five year life plan was. I went to alternative school – because I was expelled from high school. Which, may sound horrible to some people, but honestly, I felt like I mattered there. I felt like I belonged – and that nobody was judging me. I was on an even playing field for the first time. The teachers were sympathetic, and the students weren’t getting grades to make me feel bad about mine. I took a ‘job type’ test while I was there – and I still have the printout to this day. It said that for my personality type, being an artist/florist/designer would be my best career path. For the first time I felt like ‘hey, I have a place in this world!’. I had always thought that because normal jobs involved things you learned in school, and I did terrible in school, that I was doomed to live a miserable existence in a cubicle doing data entry or something (which to an artist would be just miserable). I failed out of high school, never took the SATs and was basically going to have to start from scratch. I went to community college, got straight A’s (because it made me feel good and because I finally had some confidence) and made the Dean’s List every semester. I then applied to James Madison University, where my sisters both attended, and even after being rejected to the school in general, I was accepted to their School of Art & Art History. I thrived in the art school. I was in the right place. My work mattered – not just answering a question right on a test, but my work – whatever shape and size – mattered. I was a designer, an artist – and I felt like I could take over the world *insert evil maniacal laughter*. But, really, it’s amazing how confident we can be, and how inspired we can be once we find our niche in the world!
So, I graduated college on my high horse and BAM – 2009. GOOD LUCK FINDING A JOB! I was officially a ‘starving artist’. My professors warned us of this, but I felt so awesome – I felt like I could be the next Frank Gehry or Le Courbusier (famous architects), so I didn’t care that I had to actually ‘get hired’ out of college. I was so passionate and inspired after college that I felt I could take on the world! BIG letdown. I then found myself deflated. I did all this work, all this schooling, worked so hard for the straight A’s, and for what?! I couldn’t even get an unpaid internship! I again found myself praying with tears streaming down my face.
Then, the winter following my college graduation, an opportunity was thrown right in my lap! My best friend’s parents owned a run-down store front. He mentioned that if I could renovate it with my dad (a construction project manager) then I could practically have it rent free for a while. So, the idea of the flower shop was born! (I had been a part time florist through high school and college). Within months I had the shop open for business, in May 2010. Two years of hard work, money wasted on ‘advertising’, etc. I realized that I wasn’t doing ‘important’ work. The work I felt was important (and that actually was the biggest revenue for the business) was the weddings. I was a designer after all. My mission in life is to create magical spaces for people – even if they are temporary, one day installations – it mattered to me. So, in May 2012, I changed the business model to ‘Weddings Only’. Some people still say to me ‘oh, one day when you do retail again…’ – no. It’s not my passion, it’s not my goal. Wedding design taps into everything that I love and everything I’m passionate about. Well, if I could combine it with regularly working in Disney World, we’d really be in business. ;)
Passion has gotten me through the low points – and helped me to push through those times that I’ve struggled. Building a business isn’t easy, it isn’t cheap and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Having support, cheerleaders, and of course bringing in income that shows you can do it, will help you to get through the times where you will struggle financially and emotionally. I highly recommend following your passion if you have support to do so, and don’t give up when it gets difficult – if I did, I wouldn’t be here today. I love what I do, and enjoying carving out a niche in the world for myself. “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins” – Benjamin Franklin
Did I bore you, or inspire you?! :)
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. My inspiration to write this came from watching this today (warning, lots of f-bombs – but worth the watch): http://99u.com/videos/7202/James-Victore-Your-Work-Is-A-Gift