You Win, Grown-Ups!
There’s a piece advice grown-ups often like to dole out: If you can turn your passion into a career, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
I didn’t believe this was really possible. After spending 10 years in the television industry, I felt unfulfilled. While I enjoyed the work, I didn’t feel as though I was helping anyone or contributing anything to society. During that time, before my husband and I started our family, we were focused on our careers, each other and enjoying life. Still, I was restless. I decided to donate my time by volunteering for Alpha Chi Omega at my alma mater, the University of Toledo.
I spent four to five years as the chapter advisor for the Beta Omega chapter and truly enjoyed every minute of it. Okay, maybe not EVERY minute. Meetings that ran until 10 p.m. didn’t seem ridiculous as a collegian, but as a person who had to wake up for a full-time job the next morning, it was insane! As a chapter advisor, I was able to work one on one with incredibly smart, sharp and driven young women. Each year, I looked forward to meeting the newest chapter president, unsure and nervous about her upcoming term as the leader of her peers, and watching her grow and become more confident as the months passed. I described these women as people who had all of the tools to be successful but didn’t know how to use them yet. It was my pleasure to help them learn how to use their leadership skills to improve their lives and the lives of others.
After having our second child, I was no longer able to balance home, work and my responsibilities as a chapter advisor. Since running away from home and living in the chapter house was not a viable option, I stepped down from my position. I missed the energy of the chapter and even missed the late night calls from the executive board, wanting to run a thought by me. Volunteering was something I did for me. I know I helped them, but it made me feel good to help.
Fast forward a few years, when we relocated for my husband’s new job and I had an opportunity to start fresh in my career. I put much thought into which direction I should take and decided, because of my volunteer experience with Alpha Chi Omega, I wanted to go the nonprofit route. I currently work as a regional membership director for the Greater Cleveland YMCA. I oversee team leaders for six different branches and, much like I did for Alpha Chi Omega, I help these leaders be the best they can be for the teams around them. Once again, I get to be surrounded by smart and driven emerging leaders who have all of the tools but need help to make it all work.
You win, grown-ups! You were right, and I’m living proof of that. I found my passion for developing leaders and made it a career.