How I Transformed From Corporate Girl to a Better Me!
And How CWI Proved Instrumental on That Journey
I used to be a big company corporate girl. I worked hard for my company, did well by them and, when things didn’t go right (which can and does happen), always had a solution or best practices prepared for the next time. I worked hard for them and felt they did right by me. That is, until I couldn’t get out of bed one day. I remember that day as though it were happening right now.
I hadn’t taken a true non-email-checking vacation since I was 22, when I went to New Orleans and had the time of my life (as good as a good girl who loves history and was totally into Anne Rice could).
I woke up one day at age 34 with my husband asking me why I couldn’t take a two-week vacation to Tuscany with him. Yes, I doubted my ability to get away from work long enough to have a two-week vacation in one of the most romantic and amazing places a wine and food lover could ask for. I cried for two days and didn’t leave my bed. By the time I finally got out of bed and into the shower, I knew what I needed to do. I quit my job with two months’ notice.
After my well-deserved vacation and no plans for a new job, I spent the next two years trying to find myself. What I found was that I had lost my identity. My life was so wrapped up in my work I had no idea what to do once it was no longer there. Two years and many agonizing nights later, I decided to open up my own company. I would be doing something similar to what I did before, but this time on my terms.
I then found myself on the opposite side of things, wondering why women allowed themselves to be put in the position I had been in. I felt contempt for these women – for absolutely no good reason. Maybe it was jealousy, maybe it was pent-up anger at myself for working for people who, at the end of the day, were just fine when I left.
Then I met the corporate women in Connected Women of Influence – and my opinion, thoughts and mind changed, almost overnight. As I met, talked and truly got to know all these women, I realized we all make our own decisions. What works for me, or doesn’t, is not a one-size-fits-all. We all find our way, and no one is better than anyone else.
To get to this place, I had to stop talking and start listening. I had to ask questions I truly wanted to know the answers to, not just make small talk. I also learned that I have to be true to who I am, not what I believed everyone else thought a small business owner should be. Those three things not only have helped me be a better business owner; they have also had a positive impact on my personal life.
The truest thing of all is that we support, help, hold up and be there for one another. From the girl in the retail outlet to the CEO of a girl-started and girl-driven technology company. We are all working toward the same goal of finding our happiness. ”Us versus them” doesn’t have a place in our space.
About Your Columnist
Shannon van de Poel
Shannon van de Poel is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence. She is co-owner and project director for vandePoel Productions, which provides corporate event services ranging from technology conferences for 30,000 people to concerts, seminars and social events with as few as 100 attendees. At vandePoel Productions, the goal with each event is to create something new and different – and a whole lot better.