I graduated college in 2007 and took an internship with XXXchurch.com. I only lasted a few months before the head of the intern program told me I wasn’t a good fit and I was asked to move on, aka I was fired. I moved home to live with my parents and took the first job that I could get, packing and shipping boxes from a warehouse. I was really good at it and quickly became the lead shipper. It wasn’t glamorous or exciting but I tried to make the most of it. I never missed a day, showed up on time and worked hard. I eventually was promoted to a graphic design position after about a year and a half. I did that for seven months until I quit to work for myself as the owner of Brooke Courtney Photography and walk in love.
That story isn’t glamorous or flattering by any means, but either is the land in between. The land in between jobs, careers, life paths, big decisions is never really glamorous. If it were it wouldn’t be considered in between. I talk with a lot of young people on a day to day basis and when you ask most young ppeople (15-25 years old) what they want to do with their lives they have no shortage of ideas, vision or buzz words. If you follow up that questions with, “Well, what are you doing to make it happen?” The excitement fades and you usually hear a couple of popular excuses like, “I don’t have any time right now”, ”I am just waiting until I get some of my debt paid off”, “Its really hard to find a job like that”, It’s the economy.” The list goes on and on. Lots of vision is usually crippled with lots of excuses, which leads to living in between.
Now let me fill in some of the missing parts of my story above. While working in the warehouse I took every extra penny that didn’t go towards bills, college loans and life and put it toward t-shirts. I didn’t really go out with friends or buy new clothes unless it was a box of walk in love. shirts that I could sell. I would get home from my job where I shipped boxes all day and I would ship shirts out of my basement. I would come home from staring at my shipping computer all day and I would look at my computer to design new shirts, come up with new ideas, find a way to grow walk in love. When I was given the idea of a kiosk by my father-in-law I took my vacation days so I could run it. I took my vacation for 3 days so I could sit in the mall from open to close and sell shirts from a rinky dink kiosk. The following year I saved up 2 weeks of vacation and took them again so I could do the same thing. The next year when I didn’t have enough vacation days and had to hire people to work the kiosk, I would spend my nights working at the mall. I would finish my actual job, eat dinner and work at the mall until it closed. The gaps in the story above are filled with hard work, sacrifice and doing things that I didn’t always want to do but had to be done.
It’s so frustrating to me when I talk to In Betweeners about what they want to do and they can have vision shooting out of their butts like rainbows but when it actually comes to making it happen they are lost. It’s like I am the first person to ever challenge them to work hard to make it happen. If it isn’t literally falling into their lap they aren’t ready to make a single sacrifice for their dream to come true. That is a recipe for a lot of regret, sadness and disappointment.
When I look back to my days in between I am so thankful for them. They taught me that I had to get up every day and make it happen at work, make it happen at home so I could make it happen for my future. I remember when I finally started being self employed I felt like I had way too much time because for over 2 years I was doing another job while trying to be self employed. It was awesome. I had trained myself to work hard with very little time that when I had more of it I was excited! I wasn’t lost, trying to figure out how to fill it. I love the land in between. I love that it’s filled with the grittier side of life. I don’t ever want to lose the feeling of being in between and that’s why Brooke and I are always asking each other “What’s next?” We always want to be in between something worse and something better.
So, if you are in between I have some advice for you.
1. Work hard. Never stop working hard. If you want something to happen in your life you have to work hard. No one is going to give you anything just because you show up. It’s not 3rd grade soccer anymore. I have noticed that a lot of young people think they are working hard, but actually aren’t. Find someone who you know works hard and follow them for a couple of days to see what hard work actually looks like. Hard work is not something that comes natural. It takes practice and dedication to work hard.
2. Stick with it! If you want to do something stick with it. Don’t just give up on it because it’s hard. Here is a little secret – every job or life path has it’s challenges, they are all going to be hard at times! When you stick with something you are passionate about it makes the difficulties worth it.
3. It takes time. A new website, facebook page or youtube video isn’t going to launch you into a life of success and gold toilets. The truth is you might not ever make it. You may never achieve the success that you hope to, but that doesn’t mean you give up or don’t put everything you have into making it happen.
4. We are always in between. Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or working the night shift at Wal-Mart we are all in between this life and the balcony of heaven. Knowing that and trusting God helps put things in perspective. It encourages us in defeat and keeps us humble in victory. It reminds us what we are working for and keeps us moving forward with a purpose.
5. Be Happy! Living in between can create a lot of bitterness and resentment toward people who get out of it and move forward. Don’t let it get to you. Don’t let it steal your joy. Stay happy and keep moving on. Work hard, stay humble, trust God and keep going!