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How I Followed My Passion and Escaped the 9 to 5
Greatist Journeys explore amazing stories from extraordinary people. This post is by guest contributor Dani DiPirro, author of Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and blogger at StayPositive365.com. Dani launched PositivelyPresent.com in 2009 when she decided to turn her life around and start focusing on the positive while living in the present moment. The views expressed herein are hers.
I used to wake up most mornings cursing the day. I spent my weekends and weeknights writing about how to live and love life in the present moment, but when it came to my day-to-day life, I struggled constantly with embracing my 9-to-5 job as a marketing associate. Though the job itself wasn’t bad at all — and the people I worked with were great — getting up every day and going to work often felt wrong. It’s hard to explain exactly what was wrong about it, but at the core I had the belief that I was living a life I wasn’t meant to be living.
All my life I’ve wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid, seeing my books propped up on a bookstore shelf was my idea of happily ever after. I wrote constantly in my diaries, capturing my daily interactions with others and my life’s highs and lows. I crafted short stories and wrote a novel right after graduating from college. Even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write about, I’d always known writing was what I was meant to do.
For a while, I convinced myself this feeling of not being in the right job was normal; this was how everyone else felt, too. But as time went on, I started to realize that might not be true. While most of my friends weren’t jumping up and down with excitement to go to work every day, they weren’t miserable. They didn’t feel like they were losing a part of themselves every time they put on a suit or sat in a meeting. As my friends settled into their careers, I found myself itching to get out of mine and make my own path.
But I was scared. No one else I knew was doing anything other than what was expected of them — going to work, climbing the corporate ladders of their various industries. I needed inspiration, guidance — and I needed it fast. Lucky for me, an inspiring duo wasn’t too far out of reach. My parents had started their own construction company when I was just a young child. From basically nothing, they grew their dream of freedom from bosses and office buildings to a successful small business that's supported our family for over two decades. For the first time, my father told me stories of what it was like to start a business with two small children depending on him. He had so little money. He had to start from next to nothing. It was difficult, he told me, but he never regretted it. My parents encouraged me to go for it — to go after what I really wanted for my life.
In March 2012 I took the big leap and left my corporate job. It’s been just over six months now and I’ve never once regretted my decision. I never wake up wishing I could just go back to bed for the day, like I used to do almost every morning. I never look around me and think, “This is wrong. I’m not supposed to be here,” as I did back when I was in an office all day. I never feel confined by my suits or bored out of my mind in board meetings. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be.
This month I published my first book — Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present — and I couldn’t be prouder. Holding a copy of my book in my hands was a real-life fairytale for me, an actual dream come true.
Like all fairytales, my story isn’t without some challenges. Not only do I have to write, but I also have to promote and market and do my taxes and follow my business plan. There are certainly days when it’s hard — when I don’t feel like writing, when I have to dip into my savings, when I wonder how I will make enough money to keep doing this forever — but there is never a day when I don’t want to be here, when I don’t feel as if I am where I’m supposed to be.
And on the tough days, I’m fortunate to have the support of my parents and my boyfriend — three people who truly believe in me and make me want to succeed. When I need help with my finances, my boyfriend and I sit down and go through the spreadsheets. When I needed my book reviewed (but couldn’t afford an editor), my super-smart dad edited it for me.
Whatever your dream is, don’t be afraid to go for it — and don’t be afraid to find the support you need to make your dream come true. Leaving a “normal” job to pursue a dream career is no easy feat, and it never hurts to have people beside you who will make that giant leap into the unknown easier. Financial, emotional, spiritual — whatever type of support you need, find it — because without support, it will be much harder to turn that dream of yours into a reality.
Have you found what you're passionate about? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author @positivepresent.