Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

I wasn’t a star student in college. I wasn’t terrible, but I certainly didn’t have a GPA worthy of being listed on my resume. Studying was never my thing. I was more of a “Screw it, I’ll just try my best and hopefully get at least a ‘B’ or ‘C’ on this test,” type of person.

I studied fashion merchandising at a small polytechnic college in Wisconsin. As we approached graduation that winter, I started feeling like a failure. It seemed like most of my classmates were so certain about their future. They were applying for jobs at the large corporate retailers around, but I wasn’t doing that.

I wasn’t really doing much. I wasn’t applying to big Midwest corporations like Target or Kohl’s or Best Buy. I’m sure part of me didn’t feel qualified. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t at the top of my class. My resume was subpar compared to others because I’d never done a corporate internship like they’d encouraged.

On a deeper level, though, I was itching to get out of the Midwest. I felt this pull inside of me that following the “normal” path wasn’t going to work for me. I just didn’t know what my path was going to be. At all.

You don’t always need to know what’s next.

Without any solid post-graduation plans, I still needed a job. So, I got a position at Nordstrom selling denim. It was a job I could’ve most certainly gotten without my college degree, but it was a great job nonetheless. Let’s be real, I loved having a discount at Nordstrom.

Unexpectedly, I found so much enjoyment in my work. Sure, sometimes I’d grumble while I folded jeans. I went to college to do this? But the fulfilling moments always made up for it. I loved helping women find jeans that made them feel confident. I adored helping grandmothers choose Christmas gifts for their granddaughters.

But, I knew I didn’t want my future to include working nights and weekends. So, while I worked, I applied feverishly for corporate jobs and internships all over the country.

And then one day, I got a phone call from a large corporate retailer in California. It was a recruiter asking if I’d be open to interview for an internship position. Say what? I forgot I’d even applied!

The turnaround time was quick. Like, really quick. Within three weeks of receiving that phone call, I moved myself to California. I didn’t have any friends there. I didn’t know if I’d get hired after the internship. But this was my opportunity to take a leap of faith and follow my heart, so I did.

That was five years ago. Today, I’m engaged to be married to an amazing guy I met out here. I have a group of friends that mean the world to me and I’ve built a career that makes me proud. And let me just say, I didn’t need an impressive GPA or great connections. I just needed my heart, my desire, and my trust.

Follow the urging of your soul.

This experience taught me the incredible rewards that come from being brave and taking chances. If I’d just gone with what I thought was expected of me, I wouldn’t have created this beautiful life for myself in California. I would’ve stayed stuck and bored and safe.

Instead, I followed the urge in my heart. I knew I needed to do something different even thought it felt really scary. It was uncomfortable and uncertain. It wasn’t what the people around me were doing.

Following your instinct to do something different can be scary. We don’t know how it’ll turn out and that can be terrifying. It’s at that point where many of us turn around and think, ‘What was I thinking? Nah, I’ll just stick to what I know.’

I know, because I played it safe for most of my life. I didn’t apply for internships in college because I wasn’t sure of my abilities. I never signed up for the art classes I wanted to take because I assumed I wouldn’t be good enough.

I stayed in relationships that weren’t right for me because the certainty of having that person was more comfortable than the unknown of being alone.

When I graduated college, I think I finally got tired of my excuses. I wasn’t happy, certainly wasn’t confident, and my anxiety was through the roof. The way I’d been doing things clearly wasn’t working for me, so I decided to start listening to my intuition and take a chance for once.

In forgoing the expected career path and having things work out beautifully for me, it gave me confidence in myself. It taught me that I can trust my gut and that I should take chances when my heart gets that urge.

Sometimes, taking that chance brings the most beautiful blessings. Other times, taking that chance may bring pain or heartache. Either way, it beats sitting on the sidelines and wondering, “What if?”.