When to Jump, an independent media partner of The Huffington Post, is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion.
Break-Ups to Boss Babes
I owe it all to the ex-boyfriends. Shout out to them all.
If I hadn’t had failed so many times in my relationships, I never would’ve started a blog in college venting about my dating woes. If I never started that blog, I wouldn’t have written over 10,000 hours for it - learning the ins and outs of what to post, when to post, blog imagery, captions, template styles and personal branding.
The blog took a back seat in the priority bus when I was hired to takeover the marketing and branding strategy for a luxury goods store in Greenville, South Carolina. The job required me to have a public role in the community and attend networking events, luncheons and dinners with decision makers. I loved every second of it. I was living in the literal lap of luxury. Surrounded by glamour, working with brands big and influential - I was totally enraptured by the lobster dinners and fancy wines.
Then an event happened that changed me. I flew up North to fall in love — but it was unreciprocated. In retrospect, that was the best thing that happened to me. I remember my snotty, tear-stained face pressed to the window as I flew home. I knew I couldn’t be the same person who flew up 700 miles trying to make meaning of her life with a stranger she barely knew. I had gotten so off-track spiritually — I needed to find a purpose for my beating heart.
So, I moved home, regrouped financially, and took a moment to strategize.
Two months later I launched a new blog, www.ashleybrownwriting.com, that focused its attentions on telling diverse stories. For six months I balanced my full-time job with my blog, writing about new businesses, minorities, and the under-represented. The more I wrote, the more I noticed the difference some of the stories were making in my community. My hits skyrocketed when I covered Latinos making a difference. I did a 10 Most Eligible Bachelors of Greenville, South Carolina, that helped the hidden nice guys get the female attention they deserve.
After six months I hit 100,000 views and decided to leave my full-time job to start a marketing strategy company. My employer became one of my clients and within two weeks I had a full plate for the next six months. It’s kind of unreal how quick everything has happened and I feel very blessed. Whenever my head gets too big, God knocks it back down with a dose of reality. I’ve started to develop a niche in my market working with female entrepreneurs and female-owned businesses. Women own one out of every four businesses in Greenville, South Carolina. I’d like to see that number rise.
Writing is where my heart lies. I’m working on pieces about addiction in marriage, homelessness in Greenville and women’s sexual health. I also write about young business owners as they launch their businesses and need press. When I saw how many people actually read this thing, I woke up and realized that I have to hold my business and myself accountable to making a difference. It’s not about me or my legacy, but about using this platform to help people connect, grow and heal together.
The blog pulls about 10–15 story requests daily and I’ve had to learn the hard way how to balance that with the commitments of running a business. 80 hour weeks don’t feel like 80 hour weeks when you’re working for yourself though — I think a lot of entrepreneurs say that.
I decided to take the jump when my heart screamed for me to listen. The more I listen to my heart, the more alive I feel. Naturally I was terrified, but the thought of not listening to my heart and never growing scared me even more. I jumped as quickly as I could, full force.
Initially, I was so afraid of what people would say that I didn’t tell friends or family until after I had already lined up the office space, done the paperwork, met with the lawyers, accountants and given my notice at work. My heart was pushing me to take this risk and I was afraid that someone might sit me down and encourage me to table the idea until later down the road.
I greeted my own fears as old friends and began to welcome them instead of pretending I was some fearless maverick. When I announced my decision and some people were skeptical I laughed with them instead of taking their fears of my failure to heart.
I think the key to success is learning to love failure. I’ve failed 1,000 times. The first 999 times I failed were scary. But by the 1000th time I started to laugh at myself and my astounding ability to fail on such a grand level. In retrospect, I’m grateful for all my dating and career mishaps now. Every single one of them pushed me to believe in myself and to encourage other women to take the jump and follow their passions.
As my Queen Beyonce says, if someone tells you that your dreams are too big, “Tell them boy, bye.”
When to Jump, an independent media partner of The Huffington Post, is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion. You can follow When to Jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For more stories like this one, sign up for the When to Jump newsletter here. (Note: The When to Jump newsletter is not managed by The Huffington Post.)