Do you value your own talent?
For nearly twenty years - my entire adult life, I lived in Los Angeles working behind the scenes in the music business. It was a dream career that took me around the world and onto some of the entertainment industry's biggest stages, with its brightest stars. (More about that ----->> HERE.) I learned the ropes quickly: Hollywood is a dystopian culture where importance is placed on who you are, who you know, what you've done, and how good you looked doing it. It matters not how you got there. Only that you've arrived! So I worked. I fought. I clawed. I conquered. And once I had done a few things and been a few places, I felt completely secure in my accomplishments qualifying me as *somebody.* I had the right resume. The right client list. The right inner-circle of friends. It wasn't up for debate. Look at God! Look at ME!
And then, as life does... In my late 30's, some plot twists and epiphanies led me to question the true worth of my work in a changing industry. Timing and self-awareness required that I take a hard look at my personal and professional identity, including the city I live in. Believing I had left nothing on the table in the life I had spent so many years building, I made the decision to let it all go. I said goodbye to Los Angeles. Real talk: I cried on the plane flying East, away from everything familiar.
Oh hey, Atlanta... Intending to start a new life with a good attitude, I fixed my face, and made a conscious decision to see my new city as an electric adventure. I poured my full energy into growing my small handmade baby apparel business -- one that had previously been a bench warmer, but was now my franchise player in prime time. Such freedom, such opportunity! Still, I noticed that I embarrassingly struggled, mumbled, stuttered and fumbled when friends new & old asked the golden question: "So. What do you do?"
"Well. I used to-- But now... Um."
Why was so much of my value caught up in past accomplishments? Who exactly was I trying to impress? Why did I think they cared? Do any of these people pay my bills?! Right on time, an intellectually thoughtful visiting friend from overseas executed the reality-check I needed: "YOU ARE AN ENTREPRENEUR. A BUSINESS OWNER. YOU CREATE FASHION AND ACCESSORIES FOR BABIES. PERIOD." Got me right together. Bloop!
At issue? The value of self. Through the process of changing careers and focus, I mistakenly placed more value on my West coast, music business self. But truthfully? That version of myself was unhappy, unfulfilled, and totally bored. That self wasn't living her best life. These days, I am more patient, more kind, and genuinely grateful for the opportunity to reinvent the way my life plays out.
Listen. Being someone who creates fashion and accessories for babies isn't necessarily saving lives or curing Cancer. I get it. But it makes me happy. And fulfilled. And I love it. THIS IS VALUABLE BEYOND CALCULATION! So please hear this: Where and when you can, find something you love to do, and do your best at it. Nurture it, grow it, and protect it. I am proof that a hobby can turn into a full time business, and that your start does not determine your finish. I am absolutely over-the-moon about my thriving small shop, but the disclaimer is... Transitioning the business into a full-time endeavor has been an emotionally taxing personal struggle. Place the highest value on your own talent, and watch how your quality of life improves! It may not happen overnight, but it will happen indeed... #namaste
Kelly Marie Dunn is a human being who slangs products on the interwebs 24-7, and consults small business entrepreneurs on branding & e-commerce startup during those periods when she otherwise would be taking naps.