Chapter Thirteen: 38 Jobs later
I am going to tell y'all a really good, inspirational story today. One that I hope encourages you all. I have been searching high and low for most of my life. Searching for love, happiness, success and overall fulfillment. I am 41 years old. I have had more jobs than I can count on both hands. I can't even remember all my boyfriends' names. I have had so many therapists it makes me a little dizzy. I have lived in many different spaces. I have lost more money than I care to admit. I have had so much debt I thought I might never make it. I have many moments in each day when I think I might give my children away. Yet here I am, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing in life. With the exact equipment I am meant to be using. With the exact people I am meant to be doing it all with.
Ok-for today I am going to start on the topic of the job. Some of us are lucky enough to know exactly what we want to do with our lives, and then there are the rest of us. When I entered college I knew for sure I wanted to be a fashion designer. Seriously-there was just nothing else in the world to me. Until I had my first class with my professor who was also the head of the department, who was also like, 80. Or so thought this VERY SMART 18 year old girl. She was most likely 50 and I thought she was just awful and ignorant, so I switched my major to art history. I had moments where I thought I would be the director of the MOMA or that I might be scaling the walls of important historical buildings in Florence, writing books about my findings…. and then I graduated and realized I would have to work with people that I probably had little in common with and that I would have to get my masters, then my doctorate. THAT was not gonna happen. So I moved to Dallas and got a job doing PR for film. I made $17,500 a year. So much for scaling the walls of Italy, right? I think I kept that job for 5 months-I cried every single day because I was so so so miserable dealing with hollywood agents (I did get to meet Sir Ian McKellen and that was pretty awesome). So I quit that job and got a job working in a flower shop. I wasn't even hired to do flowers. I worked the register and answered phones. Pretty sure I made about $7/hour at this point. But I loved being around all the flowers and playing with the flowers that were being tossed out. I stayed at that job for about 5 months until I just couldn't take Dallas for one more minute, and I moved to Houston.
In Houston I worked part time for an interior architect and part time for a florist. Again, I was probably making $8/hour but I liked Houston so much more and I was able to sink my hands into the creative world. I loved every single weird and crazy person I met working that floral job-so much so that I worked there on and off for 8 years. I was their first full-time hire. I left at one point because I thought I wanted to be an attorney so I went to work of one-that did not work out. I also worked at BCBG, waited tables for a month (I prefer being waited on-not gonna lie), sold wedding dresses because I wanted to design them, and worked as the fashion editor of a TX magazine. I loved the fashion job the most-I got to work with the most amazing clothes and shot on location in upstate NY, went to NYC fashion week-it was awesome. I stayed at that job for 1 year until it was time to go back to the flowers. I stayed there for another year until my husband at the time and I were going through a divorce and I just could't stand being around brides. So I quit. I went to work for a company that hired me to design shoes?! I did that for a bit until they let me go because, quite frankly, I should have never accepted the job and they never should have hired me. I then filed for unemployment. I spent a lot of time at my pool that summer until I found a part time gig selling pretty little jewels. I was able to travel with this job and I loved it, but it was super part time. So I was on the hunt again for work. I was dating an attorney at the time who did NOT understand freelance, and this was sort of prior to the freelance movement of today, so I found a good full time job as a visual merchandiser. I kept this job for 2 years until one fated day they offered me a job in NYC. Mind you, I am still in Houston at this point and had ALWAYS wanted to move to NYC. So I jumped. I was 31 years old, divorced, and starting a new role in the greatest city in the world! I signed a one year contract and started working at a job I knew nothing about but had always wanted to do….. designing clothes. Now here is the part I wasn't prepared for….it was boring and the hours were long. I worked in midtown, lived on the Upper West Side, until I moved…… About a day after that contract was up I resigned and went freelance for them. I also, at the same time, started a tee shirt company that did pretty darn well.
Ok let's just count how many jobs this is thus far…….I count 14, including the new gig at the old company and the tees. At this point I am 32. And I missed flowers. And I missed events. So I went back to work, freelance, doing events and flowers for a few different companies. Then I was hired full time by one of the event companies. And I didn't love it. But it was a sold paycheck and I couldn't complain about that, and I met Byrd's dad, the rest of that story on another day-but I definitely am grateful for that. Ok, so I stayed there for 1 year and just decided to go freelance. So I did, and THAT was great. Flowers some days, Vogue events other days, backstage on tv shows on others-just sort of whatever I could get and whatever sounded interesting. 16 jobs now, and I am 34. And then I left NYC to return to Houston to have Byrd and go back to work for the florist that hired me as her first full time employee years before. I stayed there for 9 months and then I took another leap of faith and moved to Savannah, GA where I knew one person, sort of. I was in Savannah for 2 years working in events. I did a few weddings on the side working with flowers. I am now making $75,000. I am 37 and a single mother. It was there that I met Brad and it he was the reason I left Savannah for Marietta, GA-ummm-culture shock. When I arrived I thought I would have no issues finding a job. I was wrong-I could have taken random jobs earning $35k but then I would have had to hire childcare and that would have just been silly. So I started The Byrd Collective. And I started spending money. Lots and lots of money on the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. I did it in Atlanta and I did it in Austin. Let's say a bride had a $6k budget, I generally spent $8k. Multiply that by 3 years and we have a problem friends. I lost more money than I ever thought possible. And in the midst of all of this I also almost died. And I was still trying to work-from my bed-in a back brace-on lots of drugs. So imagine the money lost as this time. Whew. I am now 40. I have moved from Savannah to Marietta to Austin to Marietta. I have gotten married, my husband has adopted Byrdie, I have had a baby, started a new business and almost died. It was during the recovery time that I started playing with my iPhone a lot because I could not do anything else. I lacked the ability to focus on anything for very long so the iPhone became my outlet. Not for one second did I think I would be creating my future at this time. When I realized that I could no longer do the events both physically and financially, it was then I started to create and capture my flowers. So just shy of 41 years old I had found what it is that I should be doing. And I can't say I should have been doing this years ago because I don't believe that. I have spent the past 23 years developing my eye for today. I won't apologize for floundering around or for not being confident enough to stand up for what I believed all of those years. I still have my days, I promise. Luckily I understand the concept of the dollar better and I have Brad to help me budget it all. I am happy with what I am doing, where I am and confident. I feel strong and I feel like I might be able to help empower some of you. Don't give up-ever. It will come. And don't let anyone make you feel bad about your art. It is art. It is yours. it is beautiful.