SUCCESS. This is a word that so many of us begin striving for at an early age. We observe the way those around us define the word. We watch with careful eyes how to imitate those we admire, whether they are family members, community leaders, celebrities, etc. So, for the longest time I was led to believe that “success” would define who I was and the path I decided upon. The next logical step was to begin checking boxes: Graduate high school (with honors, of course). Check. Obtain a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year university. Check. Obtain a master’s degree from a top 10 program in my field. Check. Good a good paying job. Check. Find the love of my life. Check. Buy a home. Check. Have a baby. Check. You can see where this is going… From the outside looking in, all seemed wonderful – maybe even, PERFECT. Now don’t get me wrong, it was not easy to check those boxes (that would be more like a book – not a blog), but once I did – I’d say “okay, _______ was accomplished, so, success! But, what’s next?”

I was about 4.5 years into my marriage with an ADORABLE baby boy, a good job, committed to my community, etc. when I realized, WAIT. Where’s the JOY? Why has THAT word never been at the forefront of my mind? Why was that not something ingrained in me the was “success” had been? Basically, I was thinking, what’s the point of it all? I’m running myself ragged in order to keep checking boxes and become “successful” mostly for those other than myself. I knew then I had to make major changes. My time and my life were too precious to be wasted on some false sense of success. This is when I literally removed the image of a woman in a business suit, with a fat bank account, and putting all of her time and energy into what others thought about her, from my mind. I completely abandoned her.

Fast forward less than ONE YEAR… I stepped back from my career and reached deep down in my back pocket to the business plan I had once created in college for the small business I wanted to start “someday”. When I pulled that out, I felt an excitement I hadn’t known, and it was invigorating – I was inspired. Could it be the potential of “joy”? Luckily, I have a wonderful tribe. And that tribe stepped up and rallied around me. I began to pursue a dream that I didn’t even realize was what I truly wanted and that I could have it if I took all the steps to make it possible (I’m still a list maker and a box checker – it’s just in my nature.) I knew it would take a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears – along with hard choices and difficult decisions. But I knew in my heart, especially now that I was a mom, I needed to live my life by example and that was to show my child(ren) that you can strive for ANYTHING you set your mind and your heart to and it does not have to look like what the rest of the world thinks it should look like.

So, here I am – 3 diplomas later, selling candles. Ha! That’s the joke I have with myself. But the truth is, here I am running a profitable retail business in the heart of my community that provides me time with my children, opportunities to give back to my community, a chance to learn and grow at a personal level EVERYDAY, and something I created from the ground up to take pride in.


Lauren Warrick
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