I'm 32 years old and have lived a myriad of lives. I don't mean in the spiritual sense. I mean I have done a lot of random things, more than many women my age. Much of my life seems to have been trying something out, throwing myself into it full steam ahead, and then realizing that it isn't for me and moving on to the next. I'm here to tell you, crossing things off your list is just as important as checking things off.
I tell this to many of the kids I interview, these hopeful Hoyas that have the world at their fingertips at 18 years old. By 18, I had been to Europe twice (without my family), lived in DC for a summer as a Senate Page, and with my trusty partner Rach talked my way into more than one bar underage to see NSYNC. Just like the 18 year olds I interview, I KNEW that the entire world was just waiting for me to make my next move. And it was, just not in the way I thought.
Attending college at Georgetown University in Washington DC was a necessary and humbling experience. With hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have taken the scholarship I got to Xavier - but I wanted to go into politics. I was obsessed. I had worked on the Senate floor and knew that was where I needed to be, back in the thick of it, making laws. Turns out naturally smart only goes so far. I had to work HARD at Georgetown to get decent grades, which was quite the shock for me and my inflated ego.
Between my freshman and sophomore years, I worked at what I lovingly call DORK CAMP. It was a student leadership conference on, you guessed it: policy and politics. As a sophomore, I worked in a Congresswoman from Kentucky's office and had the startling revelation that I did not in fact love politics. I hated the 9 jillion steps everything had to go through. Turns out, it isn't as easy as my dork camp made it look. I also took a constitutional law course, after which the professor told me, "You are a smart girl. You would do fine as a lawyer. But you would hate your life." Duly noted, and so grateful for the honesty.
The next semester, I found a job in an investment management company. I worked in marketing and I loved it. I stayed in that internship throughout college. I studied economics in Argentina between my sophomore and junior years. I interned on the listed securities desk at Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, making trades for brokers between my junior and senior years. Then as I started interviewing for the portfolio management jobs I had been pointed toward, I started having mini panic attacks. So I did what any rational college student would do: booked a flight to Buenos Aires and an apartment.
My plan was to take Spanish courses to become fluent and travel. I was also nursing my first real heartbreak, so the travel was welcome. However, I quickly realized that I wasn't super content drifting like the bohemian I had imagined myself to be. I had worked on a fundraiser in honor of a friend at Georgetown, and remembered how fulfilled that made me feel. Development! That was my new direction - I could use my business degree for good! However, my resume spoke more to policy. I accepted a job with the national office of MADD, working in policy. My heart couldn't take it - the stories of the victims and the crushing guilt I felt that I had so little power to do anything. Pivot - I did what many 23 year olds before me had done after being confronted with the adult reality and ran as fast as I could back to academia.
18 year old me would have punched 23 year old me in the face. At 18, I was never coming back to Louisville and I was going to be kicking ass in Law School at 23. Lol, what a sweet dumb 18 year old I was. I began my Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in NonProfit Management at the University of Louisville in the Fall 2008. I worked as a graduate research assistant and as a development intern at the Kentucky Humane Society. By the spring of 2010, I was approaching graduation and had realized that I was perhaps not a good enough person to work in a nonprofit full time. I felt like I needed to put my entire effort behind whatever nonprofit I worked for, and the problem was that I felt a strong affinity to several.
Pivot - I bought an existing jewelry store. It was a small silver shop in the mall. Let me tell you - retail is not for the faint of heart. It is HARD work. Anyone that stays in retail over 5 years is either a saint or totally insane. Mall hours are LONG and the holidays are worse. In the spring of 2012, my lease was up and the mall wanted more money for the valuable space my little store took up. I was barely squeaking by and killing myself to do so.
I closed up shop and opened a new boutique, Pink Julep, in a smaller local shopping center. It seemed like heaven! I got to play with clothes for a living! I made my own hours! Even working 7 days a week, the shorter days seemed like a break from the mall hours. I hired some ladies to work for me that continue to amaze me and make me laugh. Willie came to the store every day and had quite the following. Despite this, I found myself standing in my closet one morning in the spring of 2014 absolutely not caring what I wore. This was an awakening - working in my "passion" had made me hate it. So, I had a long tearful talk with my dad and decided to close.
Pivot again. Fall 2014 when I was ready to close Pink Julep, my dad had invested in a new project that needed a manager. His close friend was revamping his book about The Kentucky Derby. Shircliff Publishing was born, and as its grown I've taken a more active role in what we do. Our second project is out and allowed me to work closely with one of my favorite people, my effervescent cousin Judy. I know NOTHING about sewing, but she exudes fun and makes you feel like even the most inept sewer could handle her patterns. We've got a book with my BFF Heather in the works. And I'm already plotting my next moves - this blog and taking over my dad's racing interests.
My point? Life is weird. Embrace the left turns.