Let me tell you a story...
I have always been someone that excelled at what I put my mind to. I have always done well in the corporate world, moving quickly up the ladder into positions of leadership. I began my highly blessed corporate career path as a receptionist at a college and ended my corporate career as an Operations Manager for a non-profit retail store. It is with this position that my life as a VA began.
Let me back up a bit first, though.
I first learned of the term “Virtual Assistant” sometime around 2010. I bought books and I read and I read and I read. That’s all I did...read. I took no action. I was in the corporate world and unhappy – I left one job for another and then left that one too. The next one seemed great: District Manager with 4 stores. I had a company laptop and cell phone and best of all, in 6 months I would finish this job and then sit back and collect unemployment. Who wouldn’t love that?! Me. That’s who. I finished with this company and after being home for a few months, I decided I needed to go back to work. Once again, I skipped the VA dream and went back to the corporate world. By this time the year is now 2012. I’m an ATM Operations Manager for a currency company with a company Blackberry, a sleek company laptop (I felt like I’d finally made the big time!) and I traveled a lot for work. I genuinely loved this job.
Too bad I wouldn’t get to keep it.
I’d been rolling along, living life and unexpectedly became pregnant...I call my daughter my “parting gift.” All this time, I was married to someone that did not deserve or appreciate me. I decided I was going to leave this marriage after much soul seeking and did not change my mind when I found out I was going to have a baby. I was 6-weeks pregnant and left my husband. So, as I said I was living life. Great job and then my doctor decided to put me out of work around my 4-month due to a high-risk pregnancy and a job that wouldn’t allow me to work from home. I found this odd, and hurtful, because the last woman that was pregnant finished out her pregnancy at home with no questions, no issues...why couldn’t I? I decided once again I was going to get back on track with my desire to become a VA, but once again I became sidetracked.
This time by other things going on in life: packing up my apartment, moving all my things into storage, moving home, dealing with my husband, trying to keep my baby safe and have a good pregnancy even with my pregnancy being high-risk, preparing for my baby’s arrival, and overall just trying to keep my sanity! Sidetracked doesn’t begin to describe it, but never-the-less I did not move forward in wanting to be a VA. And then my daughter came. And then while on maternity leave, I lost. My. Job. Yes, lost it. As in the company had a “company-wide restructuring” and I was part of a lay off. I had a brand new baby at home! Oh, sure I could collect unemployment and I’d get a small severance package but I was now without employment. The corporate world had done it to me yet again and I honestly couldn’t blame anyone but myself.
How could I let this happen?
How was I going to support my daughter? How could this company that I had given so much of myself for do this to me? I worked hard. I went above and beyond. I was great at my job and I had made great strides for the department. At the end of the day, none of that mattered to anyone but me. I had no time to wallow though, I had a baby to take care of. Luckily, my mother was a huge help and that included financially. I’ll never be able to thank her enough.
So here I am with this newborn and no job. I am a firm believer that things to happen for a reason. Sometimes that reason is because I am foolish and sometimes that reason is because it is as the universe sees fit. As upset as I was I became able to see the bright side: I was given the chance to be home with my daughter for what some believe to be the most important days of her life. I spent well over a year home with my girl. Later I looked back and asked why I didn’t put some focus on my VA dream during that time “off.” I always had no answer...honestly, I didn’t want to admit the truth. Truth was I had been scared and full of self-doubt.
But lucky for me I finally got over that.
It is now 2014 and I am working for a non-profit. Their slogan was “We Help People.” The thing is they didn’t help the people that were employed by them. Some days it didn’t even feel like they cared about any of us. Our manager was verbally abusive, intimidating and just a nightmare. He ruled with fear. He yelled and he talked down to people. The thing about me is I don’t allow anyone to mistreat me. But that doesn’t mean it takes no toll on me or that I want to go to battle each day when I go to work. Complaints were made to all the higher ups but nothing was ever done about the hostile environment this man was promoting. It was then that I decided the only thing that would change with this situation would be my presence in the workplace. I had to leave. But it was so hard. I was the buffer between him and the other employees. I took the brunt of what this man dished out so they could work peacefully. So instead of leaving, I called out for a week. I knew I had to go back and I gave myself a pep talk about how the next day would go for me. I never made it to work the next day.
The next day I woke up and honestly could not bring myself to get out of my bed. I was exhausted mentally and physically sick. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go back there. I turned to boyfriend and told him and he said I should do what I needed to do – being sick like this and unhappy was no good. We talked it over and in that conversation, my VA business was born. I sent an email to those I needed to – the people that hired me, not the manager – and in it I resigned, effective immediately. I cited the hostile environment that was being continuously promoted, and you know what? No one responded to me. 4 people, not one response. That was all the confirmation I needed – I had made the right choice.
This was in June of 2015.
I had enough money to relax for a bit and mentally recover. To shake off all that bad. That corporate bad. During this recovery time, I reminded myself of who I am. What I am capable of and what I have survived. It was time to get out of my way. Stop being afraid. Stop being my own worst enemy. In July I felt like myself again and I began working on setting things up. I didn’t have much but I had enough. In August, my website and social media sites were up. I had begun being active in some of the groups on Facebook and I had gotten my first client. I excel at what I put my mind to. I had forgotten that.
It is now January of 2017. I still have that first client, along with 3 more. I was invited to speak at a very well-known VA online conference. I’m proud to be able to say that I make very nice money on my own terms. My way. Most importantly, I am home with my daughter who is now 3 and in school. I pick her up, I drop her off, I attend school functions, I volunteer. I am present. It may have taken me a while, but now that I’m here, I’m not stopping. I refuse to ever let fear or myself get in the way again!
Learn more about Alicia and her business here!
- I Refuse To Ever Let Fear, or Myself, Get In The Way Again - June 20, 2019
Hi Alicia, I loved your story, because it reminded me of myself right now, that’s how I have felt for a while, I lost my dad just over 5 months and all the fear has been cried out of me, I’m so done with fear. I’ve revamped my business in being consistant every week, adding posts and engaging in groups online. I wish you well….I would like to connect with you to get more advice from you.
I am very sorry to hear about your dad…I understand as I lost mine almost 9 years ago.
Fear is the enemy! I’m so glad to hear you’re done with it – that’s not easy. Not being afraid is hard! Thank you for reading my story…I wish you well too and would love to connect with you. You can reach me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) – email me and let’s talk!