A year and half ago, I was crying on my couch in my apartment debating whether I should break the news to my mom or my dad first. I chose Mom. She was the lowest risk choice and I figured she would advise me on how to best tell my dad that I wanted to drop out of my Masters program.
My mom reacted how I thought she would, with a heavy dose of logic. I explained to her how the dense readings were going completely over my head and I felt like the dumbest student in my painfully tiny classes, how I didn’t see the point of getting a Masters in Anthropology when I knew I didn’t intend to get a Doctorate, and how it just wasn’t my dream anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved what I was learning, but I didn’t want to make a career out of it. She was sympathetic to my feelings and, in her signature logical way, listed what “my options” were. I could take a semester off, then return feeling refreshed enough to complete the program. I could push through because I was, after all, just a thesis and a handful of classes away from completion. Deep down, I already knew that I wanted to quit and be done forever, but I decided to spare her from such a harsh statement as my news was probably enough shock for one phone call. She told me my dad was at work, so I gave him a call on his cell phone.
“Hey, little lady. What’s up?,” he said. I nearly lost it right then – partially because I was nervous to tell him and partially because I knew he’d be supportive no matter what. I walked him through it all. When I was done talking, he was quiet for a while and took a deep breath. Not an annoyed deep breath, but one he usually did before he blessed you with an inspirational, deep life lesson. He told me he’d felt the exact same way shortly after he started college at Savannah State University, so he left and joined the U.S. Air Force. He wanted to get out of his hometown and explore the world, so he followed his gut. He encouraged me to do the same and assured me he wasn’t disappointed in my decision.
I had to trust my gut.
I won’t go into a full life story because I sort of already did that in this post from April 2016, but I’ll give you a quick recap and explain how I got to where I am right now. My career goals have gone from (starting in high school) fashion design, to fashion marketing, to museum curation, to anthropology, to “I don’t know what exactly – I just want to be my own boss and do whatever I want,” to event planning entrepreneur. Believe me when I say, this is the most promising venture yet. That’s not to say there still won’t be some bumps in the road, because there absolutely will be, but this goal feels closest to my heart and feels authentically me.
As long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with the idea that we are supposed to find one job you love and stick to it. I would read endless job descriptions, learn about various career paths, and try to convince myself that “Okay… I could be happy doing this forever.” However, the more I learned and experienced, the clearer it became that I was never going to find one magical job that would fulfill me. As the provocative and inquisitive person I’ve always been, I simply couldn’t understand how, and especially why, I was expected to squeeze myself into a 4-bullet long job description rather than shape a job description around me. Let’s pause here for a moment.
Before I continue, I want to emphasize that there ARE many people who are deeply happy living that 4-bullet lifestyle. I feel like sometimes in today’s world, we put too much glory around entrepreneurs or self-employed people and act as if they are the only people who are truly successful and making themselves happy. This is complete and utter bull, in my humble opinion. There is no right or wrong way to construct your life, as long as you’re doing it with honesty. I just happen to be a person choosing to live in a different way because it works for me. It’s by no means, for everybody. One can even argue that having an entrepreneurial spirit is a blessing and a curse (If you want me to go more into this, let me know in the comments!). Okay, now back to regularly scheduled programming.
After stopping my graduate program in the summer of 2015, I took a few months to figure myself out. I worked full-time in a few different administrative roles at my alma mater, part-time at a retail store that sold high-end olive oils (it was awesome), and was a regular dog-sitter (not always as awesome). On a seemingly average day during this phase, I was in my apartment, eating popcorn, watching Netflix, and suddenly I decided I would start a business. Seriously, suddenly. Yes, the thought came completely out of no where but it was strong one I couldn’t ignore. Now, I don’t know what higher being or lack of you believe in, but it felt like a blatant shove from above. I called my mom and said, “Hey. I’m going to start our business.” Literally, just like that. She wasn’t completely surprised because my family has always passionately talked about wanting to have some kind of globally renowned travel/event/tourism/creative/artsy business, but I don’t think she expected to hear it so brazen. You might be thinking right now, “Aysia. Lol, what? How did you decide this so fast and randomly?” All I can say is, this is one of those things I can’t explain. Kind of like my love of the smell of laundry or cooking rice… just can’t explain it.
I figured there was no better time to get started and if we or I wanted to make it a reality, then I had to start moving asap. I also felt like I was the only one who could do it at the time. My brother had just started college and was busy with ROTC, my parents were doing parent things, but I had all the time in the world to start building. My parents were supportive (In case you haven’t gathered already, I’m really close with my family. We’re all genuinely BFFs. Also, my parents were helping me pay my loans and school fees, so I figured I owed them some say.), and gave me their approval and I got started. I want to quickly mention, I was actually terrified, scared, excited, and emotional while all this was happening. Up until this point, I was used to somewhat easily accomplishing everything I planned for my life.
My mom had an old friend who worked as a business coach, Elizabeth Sanchez, and she put me in touch with her. We hit it off and I absolutely loved her style. Shameless plug for Elizabeth’s company, Blaze Success! She’s truly special, caring, and the right amount of kick-in-the-butt. I’m 104812318% positive I wouldn’t have worked as quickly or smartly with out her. She helped me write out a business plan, goals, and the whole works. Out of this, Art of the Journey was born. It was going to be a company that curated creative excursions for women. The excursions could be day-long or weekend long, and hopefully down the road, international week-long excursions. Fast forward to now, obviously that changed due to many factors. Businesses go through endless changes and I was always open to letting things naturally evolve, so I wasn’t too worried as long as people remained interested, which they thankfully did. Now, Art of the Journey is a social group for young women organized on Meetup.com. We have an absolute blast exploring DC together, hanging out, going on adventures, and getting to know each other and ourselves better.
Mid-2016 is when I realized I wanted and needed to grow or change my business plan. Art of the Journey was going well, yet somewhat stagnant, and I knew it was time to pivot. Thanks to many conversations with my business-wiz/all around genius of a boyfriend, Marvin, I’d come to the conclusion that I wanted to develop a personal brand. It felt like an organic next step and would give me flexibility for growth in the future without having to build separate companies for the many things that I want to do. When I say “organic,” take that with a grain of salt. It feels like an next organic business move, but there’s nothing organic about developing a brand around yourself when you don’t love to be the center of attention. This probably doesn’t come as a huge shock to those who have met me, but I’m definitely not an extrovert and I don’t enjoy being the center of attention. I’m the complete opposite. The reason I decided to challenge myself and build a personal brand is because I enjoy having a voice and I love to help people in the way I know how. I want to be a service to people. After all, I’ve been informally event planning for years. If you’re great at it, it comes easy, and you love it, why not get paid for it? So, I planned, strategized, built…. and here we are. Here I am.
Thanks for reading this lengthy post and I hope it gave you some insight into my thinking and life a bit. I don’t know exactly where this path will lead me, but I’m excited to see what happens. Leave a comment down below if you’ve had any similar thoughts about careers or have feedback to the many things I’ve said above! See you next time.