By Tricia DiGaetano
I recently left my long-term startup gig as a Joyologist (yep, you read that correctly) at a hugely successful tech company called Weebly, run by a dynamic team I’m thankful to know, and it kind of feels like a break-up. With well wishes and hugs (and a Golden Girls themed good-bye party), we ended our relationship so that I can chase another dream... alone. Gulp.
I am no stranger to starting over. More specifically, I am no stranger to leaving a safe, perk-filled, comfort zone without much of a plan (sorryloveyousorry, Mom and Dad!).
I left my first great job after college because my experience in a the male-dominated industry of tech sales was one fraught with increasing difficulties. Mainly, I wanted to be taken seriously as a business professional, and not just a young chick with a decent ass (hey, I was 24 - give credit where credit is due). In summary: I was a constant ball of unnecessary stress, to the extent that the depths of inauthenticity were negatively affecting all areas of my life.
While friends and family looked at me with “You’re crazy” eyes, I packed up the ol’ Pennsylvania apartment and followed my heart to San Francisco — jobless. I know I could've been nervous, but I wasn't. I felt liberated. I never doubted that I would make it somehow, and reminded myself to never take my able body and able mind for granted. Can your hands wash dishes in the back of a restaurant? Good. Set the ego aside and get ready to work in the hustle, honey.
Next came “funemployment,” which I highly recommend to all transitioning souls. I humbly worked for about nine months, splitting my time at a sweet boutique in my neighborhood and a dentist’s office downtown. Was I using my college degree? Not quite. But I met incredible people, and kept myself afloat — both amazing feats for a wandering soul.
And I took every spare day to enjoy my new city. I went to beaches, parks, museums, flea markets, cafes, and free events. I read, I played, I explored. I got a divorce in the midst of all this, too, just to really test my spirit’s strength! (That’s a story for another time…)
Financially speaking, it was a huge difference. I’d been making a generous salary, and was now budgeting down to the hourly penny. Somehow it was oddly important, as I learned my relationship around money vs. the values connected to my time and happiness. I knew eventually I'd find the right path if I had patience and was living in the present.
Back to now…
The founders of Weebly — the quickly growing company I just left — and I shared a mutual friend. As Penn State alumnae, we’d spent a few fun times together in years prior, and during a particularly random reunion it was mentioned that they may be in a position to hire soon. I instantly knew this was the next step for me. After a couple months of sending good thoughts while visualizing the potential of this job every day (and plenty of friendly follow-up emails), I was hired, and my life changed all over again.
I don’t think the Weebly team had anticipated or really planned for me, as much as I hadn’t planned for them. This became evident as I shifted my role from Office Manager, to my beloved title of “Joyologist.” I placed myself in the business of tending to our company culture, and the employees’ health in body and spirit. As hokey as it sounds, I truly believe I manifested this opportunity by remaining calm, staying open, and trusting the process. I grew and shaped my role because I worked hard to be kind, and because I gave a damn about our team. I embraced my “Mama Trish” moniker to the fullest. I was living an absolute dream — one that I could never have predicted. And the company was taking off, beyond belief. In the four years I was there, we went from 9 employees to over 100, and moved to a larger office space twice!
But, four years later, and that old familiar itch for authenticity returned. Things changed. People changed. My longing to write and coach full-time hit its boiling point, and bubbled up and over. Our callings have a way of first sending us a sign, then a message, and then — if we continue to ignore them — a problem. So with many more “You’re crazy” eyes on me, I packed my things to bring my Joyologist heart to new adventures in coaching and writing... alone. Gulp.
Are you considering taking a leap? If so, I'd bargain that there are people in your life who will unknowingly project all kinds of insecurities on you. (Aren’t our loved ones so good at that?) Allow them to do the worrying for you. Frankly, it doesn’t serve you. If you're not feeling authentic, then you do what you need to change that. Please remember you have that power.
I continue to believe in me, and that little voice in my heart. (Not the one in my head... she's a bit unreliable, God bless her.) My heart tells me I will be safe and well in this next love-focused decision. And so far, it’s made all the difference here in the hustle.
So, when people think you are nuts; when they doubt, question, or worry; when the hows, whys, whens become a jumbled mess of unknowns — grasp tightly to your sacred, authentic "what" and pump it full of love and light. When they ask you, “What if it doesn’t work out?” — you tell them: What if it does? (That, and you are quite the good dishwasher.)
It takes hard, humbling work and it takes patience.
It takes finding strength in your able bodied, able minded being.
It takes courage and checking your ego at the door day after day.
And maybe it takes a little bit of “You’re crazy.”
But mostly, it takes a grateful, open heart.
As I tell my clients: Whatever it is that makes your pulse race, go for it.
Tricia DiGaetano is a Jersey girl for the first 18 years of her life, proud Penn State graduate, and lover of California, travel, food, the sea, art, cheese, wine, music, dance and her little sister. She is a Joyologist, writer, and wellness coach. She finds it to be a pleasure to hold space for folks as they learn to trust the process, and access their most authentic and fulfilling lives. Trish keeps a blog of her adventures called The Grateful Life.