(The following was written on a flight home from Brisbane on Dec 19th)
I have recently come to realize that life has left me a bit scatterbrained. Not on the surface, mind you, but somewhere inside me I am a bit all over the place, and have a hard time being still. Luckily for me, life had me around the world this past week for work. Nothing like being at the very limits of your comfort zone and abilities to make you look inside and hone your values to find yourself humbled.
Australia was incredible. To be honest, I can't exactly say how just yet, but I know that this trip, and the experiences I had represent a major turning point in my life and career. As eager as I am to get home to the loving comfort of my beautiful family, it was all I could do to hold back tears as it got closer and closer to me checking in for my departure. I found something I really needed in Australia. I am bringing back much, much more than memories. I am bringing back a new piece of myself.
I think it's about time that I make it clear: when I started in software, I was winging it. Completely. Like in a "I've never ever had a desk job and I don't know was the word SaaS means" sort of way. Aside from a few summers interning at my dad's one man show of a law firm (where I first learning how to do journal entries in QuickBooks Desktop), I was in over my head. But you know what I did? I put my head down and focused. I undoubtably became a sponge and absorbed everything around me that I could. I worked hard, and more than anything, I adapted.
But there's a funny thing that happens when you're laser focused on faking it until you make it. One day out of the blue, something happens, be it major or minor, that forces your head above water, and makes you realize in that moment, you are no longer faking it. You aren't pretending. You are, or at a minimum a piece of you, is the real deal.
The first time this hit me was (let me pause here as I sift through my mental travel log and go back through over a years worth of non-stop work trips) a year and three months ago in New Orleans at the AFWA National Conference, when I found myself presenting for an hour to a large audience on changes in sales tax legislation. The most recent time, as of today, was in the form of a wave off of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia that came crashing down on top of me. Undoubtably unlike moments, but they stand out to the same degree, albeit for different reasons.
New Orleans was the first time in my career that I knew my hard work had paid off. That I was going somewhere, and even more than that, I had something or possibly many things to bring to the table and value to share along the way. Australia was when I realized how damn far I've come, how beautiful my life has become, and how humbled I am by the opportunities that life has sent my way.
What did both of these moments signify? Hard work paying off? Without a doubt. They were definitely moments where I recognized my accomplishments. But more than that, they were the moments I realized everything I can do next.
I want to chase after life. I want my work to mean something. I don't necessarily need to leave my name, but I want to leave my mark on this world. And I also don't ever want to forget how I got there. Through tremendous opportunity. Through spunk + grit + grace. With the love of my friends and family. After all, I want my life to be something so much more than a destination. I want it to be the journey.
So as I trek 20ish hours home across the globe tonight, I find myself awake, bursting with excitement, and eager for what's next. I found something I needed in Australia. And I left some things behind. I am returning both light and laser focused. I am ready to start running after what lays ahead in 2016, and soak up everything that I find next.