Today was my last day in the world of corporate America. To be more specific, a career in public accounting as an IT Auditor. A career I fought long and hard for. Yes, five years of school, countless hours of studying and tens of thousands of dollars. It was far from being an easy decision for countless reasons. So what made me leave? Passion. Or rather, lack thereof.
Did I know I wouldn’t be passionate about accounting years ago when I decided to major in it? I probably could’ve guessed I wouldn’t be. But it wasn’t about knowing whether or not I’d be passionate about accounting, it was about not realizing back then how important passion would be to me when it came to my career. I thought that all that mattered was having a good job where one day I could become some top executive and make tons of money and be successful. For some people that might be enough to motivate them to stay in a job they don’t love, but for me? I realized that it wasn’t enough. I was only in the public accounting/corporate world for four years, but I whole-heartedly tried to give this career my all. I actually wanted nothing more than to love my job because I knew where it could take me. But honestly, I knew right away from my first internship that I didn’t love it. But I kept at it in hopes that one day I’d learn to love it. I just need to give it time, right? Nope. I mean, I don’t regret giving it time, because I learned a TON in my IT audit life, and formed awesome relationships with awesome people. So much of my experience and knowledge I was able to use in starting my small business. But all the time in the world could not make me love my job. It made the decision to leave both difficult and simple at the same time. Simple, because I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to be, but difficult, because I wanted so badly for it to work. As exciting as it is for me to start a new venture, I had to say goodbye to a part of me. A part of me that dreamed of being a top executive. A part of me that worked so hard in business school and fought through competitive recruiting to land a job at one of the best accounting firms in the world. It’s not easy to let that go. But I had to do it.
So let’s break down how passion led me to leave my career in two main points.
1. Success ≠ Lots of money
Let’s start with why I got into my career to begin with. Everyone wants to be successful, right? I always have. And I used to think success was measured by how many figures were in your bank account, or what title was listed under your name in your email signature or business card. Accounting was a way I thought I would gain this idea of success in the shortest amount of time. I wanted to become a CEO of a corporation. And I learned that most CEOs have a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license and that CPAs major in accounting. And if I wanted to be a big time executive in the corporate world, accounting must be the way to go. I recall getting offered my job before I even graduated college and thinking about how my life was going to be set up for success so long as I continued to work hard at it. So when I started to fall in love with home interiors and making home decor and furniture, I had to start thinking about letting go of that idea of success. I had to redefine what success meant to me. For some, success might equal big money and a big title, but I don’t believe you’re truly successful until you’ve realized your fullest potential on earth. And I believe that success is achieving great things within your passion. And passion? We’ll get into that with this next point.
2. Passion is not something you choose. It chooses you.
Redefining success is what ultimately led me to open myself up to discovering what I was really passionate about because for so long, all I kept thinking about was how to make myself love my job more, instead of thinking about what I really, really wanted to do for a career. When I began to open myself up to that, I started to realize how important being passionate about your job is. There are so many things I’m passionate about that I don’t even know where to start. But I can’t ever recall a time where I chose to be passionate about something. Everyone is passionate about something, and at the very core, it goes back to what you love and what makes you happy. And when you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’re happy. And a happy life isn’t something I want. It’s something I need. It’s what we all need.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved creating. Whether it be writing, drawing, painting, or even making a fancy color-coded excel budget with formulas (yes, I have multiple of these). I simply love to create. I just never thought I’d be able to turn creating things into a career. It wasn’t until I started putting together the interiors in our home and making different home decor items and furniture with my husband that I started to realize how much I loved it. I would spend every last hour of the day making things and dreaming up new ideas. The more I fell in love with creating things, the more it made me dread going to my day job. It made me wish that I could just work on house stuff as my work. I mean, when you do something you love and are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like you’re doing something you were created to do. I believe God created us all with passions instilled in our very being and that our greatest potential is only realized when we live them out. At the end of my life, do I want to look back and see that my life was used for its greatest purpose? Heck yes. Did I know right away what the purpose of my life was? Heck no. But it was during my struggle of trying to find happiness and purpose in my career that it made me think really long and hard about what I truly wanted. What truly made me happy. Call it a quarter life crisis if you will. It definitely put things in perspective for me and made me reevaluate where my source of joy came from. The happier I became when creating things and redoing the home, the more I realized that this was my purpose. And you know what? When I was 16 I wanted to become an Interior Designer. I always thought that it was just a dream. But now I realize it can be more than that.
So back to today. My last day. Not when I imagined it would be, but still exciting because I know what I need to focus on. I’m oddly thankful for how everything turned out, because had I not majored in accounting and started a career in corporate America, I would have never known that it couldn’t make me happy. And I feel like I always would have wondered that. Now I don’t. And even today I still don’t have the exact answers or a plan as to what my long term future looks like, but if it’s starting with doing something I love, I’ll let the rest unravel into place.
P.S. Thank you to my dear friend, Andy Phan for following me around downtown and taking pics to commemorate this big day! Sorry for the awkwardness.