“You don’t have to know where you’re going to be headed in the right direction.” I took the advice of a marketing guy I know and decided to use my most recent fortune from P.F. Chang’s as my blog post topic this week. (And by “this week” I mean the first post I’ve written since January 19th…shame on me.) I’ve had writer’s block, coupled with a lot of new endeavors, coupled with an extreme case of – ok, yes, I’ll admit it- “I forgot the website existed.” But here I am, ready to write. So listen up.
The thing I like most about my “You don’t have to know where you’re going to be headed in the right direction” fortune is that it reminds me of something I was briefly discussing the other day, which was the concept of “you have to start somewhere.” A lot of us experience anxiety of the unknown or unfamiliar. We don’t start anything new because we don’t know what will happen if we try, whether it’s starting a project, getting involved in the community, meeting new people, or just implementing a different twist into the same old daily routine. We want a guarantee that it’s not going to blow up in our faces, but the thing about life is there is no guarantee…So most of the time, instead of taking a risk, we stay where things are comfortable. And when we don’t take risks, our lives tend to stay the same, day in and day out.
Had I not taken a risk 7 years ago and decided to start my own business, my life wouldn’t look anything like it does today. In the Spring of 2005, I was 26, had an eight-month old baby and no idea what I was doing with my career, but an opportunity crossed my path to start a stationery business- and without allowing myself to overanalyze it, or work myself into a frenzy of reasons why it might fail, I jumped in and just did it. Over the next seven years, the decisions I made would shape the course of my life in ways that have permanently changed me for the better.
Over time, I’ve watched as the business I built has grown into its niche, ebbing and flowing with the changing economic climate and establishing connections with customers and community partners. Most importantly though, being a business owner has pushed me to get out and network. On April 14, 2011, I dragged my skeptical self to a Generation Dayton networking event at Blind Bob’s…I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to make small talk with strangers, and I didn’t feel like generically handing out my business card to people I figured would probably throw it away on the next trip to the bathroom. In short, I was feeling negative. I didn’t want to take that first step toward the unknown- I didn’t want to leave my comfortable Envelope bubble and make an effort to expand my network. But that night I met a number of people who have impacted my life, and made a few friends without whom my life wouldn’t be the same. And even though it was just one networking event, one Spring night at Bob’s, it was a start. After that event, I went to the next one in May, and kept meeting more and more people who were involved in the goings-on in Dayton: people who worked with non-profits, people who worked with artists, people who supported the revitalization efforts of the city. And I loved every second of it. I found that the more I started, the more I wanted to keep going. The momentum kept pushing me forward.
By welcoming that momentum instead of fearing the unknown, and by stretching the boundaries of my own comfort zone, I’ve developed some amazing professional relationships in Dayton, connected with fellow entrepreneurs, and welcomed many people into my life who make it richer and more meaningful. Today, not only am I business owner and a mom to an amazing 7-year old, but I’m a writer, a graphic designer, a publications coordinator, a volunteer, an art lover, a young professional, and a community activist. I am proud to be associated with organizations like the Dayton Visual Arts Center and Culture Works, and I’m honored to be part of a community that is fortunate to have so many catalysts invested in its growth and development.
I had no idea what would happen when I opened The Envelope (ha, what a great a metaphor…). I had no idea what I was starting when I went to Blind Bob’s last April… but because I took the first step and started somewhere, it’s taken me places I could never have dreamed, both personally and professionally. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I can say without hesitation that I know I’m headed in the right direction.