The Leap of Faith that Changed My Career Path

The Leap of Faith that Changed My Career Path

Since I began working at the age of 16, I have had a variety of positions in a wide range of industries. So I am no stranger to the stress, anxiety, and paralyzing fear that may accompany changing jobs. I would like to tell you about the time I moved from working in a small family-owned flower store to a civil engineering firm. At the moment, I had no idea where I was on my path. Looking back, this leap of faith was an important and pivotal moment in my career.  

I had been working at the flower shop for almost 3 years and had developed a great relationship with all my coworkers and their families. We were all very close. However, the business was rife with drama and it was a very unhealthy environment to work in. And, the pay wasn’t great. One of the floral designers’ daughters worked for a large floral distributor in marketing and technology. I got to know her well as she would often come into the shop and help during busy times.

She would consistently remind me in various ways that I was selling myself short by continuing to work there. That I was too smart to be wasting my time at this shop, where I would likely never move up as there was actually nowhere to go.

She had even gone as far as to try to get me a content writing position at the company where she worked. Although that position didn’t materialize, her belief in me continued until one night she let me know that the engineering firm where her father worked was looking for an administrative assistant. This prospect lingered in the back of my mind. Later that week, when a heated physical altercation broke out among the owners’ sons, right in front of a customer choosing funeral flowers, I realized the toxic environment had taken its toll on my well-being. It was clear that, if nothing else, leaving for the sake of my mental health was crucial.

Recognizing the Opportunity and Facing Self-Doubt

I was aware that I knew how to use a computer and answer phones. But I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to work in an office environment. The closest I’d been to white-collar territory was during my time in the air force, and my first job after that was at a school that ended in termination due to a culture clash. I really wasn’t confident in my ability to be professional. But for the first time in a while, someone had expressed faith in my ability to rise to the challenge. It was clear that she saw something in me that I was struggling to see in myself.

Just the idea of transitioning from the flower shop to a professional setting brought a flood of self-doubt and anxiety. My humor, once comfortably irreverent, suddenly felt like a liability. As someone with a unique career history, I questioned whether my skills would translate to an office environment handling complex projects and government contracts. Let’s say I did fool them enough to get through the interview process, the next intrusive thought was that I’d be exposed as a fraud and fired. I couldn’t stand the idea of that kind of embarrassment. Also, in a flower shop, if you made a mistake, there are a few set customer service guidelines you could follow to make it right. If you make a mistake on something like a civil engineering document, that could cost someone MILLIONS. I wasn’t sure I was up to that kind of pressure. These are the kinds of doubts and fears that were deafening and almost stopped me from following through.

Navigating the Application and Interview

After a few days of stewing in that paralyzing anxiety, I submitted my resume, even though I assumed that by this point, they had found someone, and I wasn’t fully expecting to be called. I reasoned with myself if that was the case, maybe I could use it as good practice. But to my surprise, they called me the next morning to ask me to come for an interview. I scheduled it a week out to buy a little more time to prepare. I practiced interviewing, watched YouTube videos on being professional, polished my responses, and tried to put together the closest thing to a professional outfit that I could find at the bottom of my messy closet.

The interview day came, and I was a nervous wreck. In the days leading up to this interview, for some reason, I found that the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel eased my anxiety and made me feel empowered. I am not sure why honestly! So, I drove to the office with that song at nearly full volume on repeat. I walked into that office literally oozing with anxiety. I don’t know how they couldn’t smell the fear. It was probably about 20 or 30 minutes of casual conversation, and they asked me typical interview questions. I know I tried my best. I had put in a lot of effort and intention, so I knew I didn’t bomb it. But I also felt like I was jumping too high. They were out of my league. I wasn’t that caliber of person. Those were the intrusive thoughts that drowned out the music, still on full blast on the ride home. I had done everything right. There was no reason I wouldn’t get the job offer, but I was convinced I wouldn’t.

The Bitter Moment of Triumph

For example, I learned that it’s a terrible idea to leave an uncut cake in the conference room. They will get creative and not cut nice uniform pieces.

As dramatic as that drive was, thankfully it was short-lived, as they called me to offer the position before I even made it all the way home. All at once I felt a mix of excitement, surprise, nervousness, as I accepted and then suddenly, terror. “Oops, now I have to actually try to do this. This is not a drill!” I now have to face all those fears and anxieties that nearly stopped me from applying at all. I wish I could tell you that I started my first day and was welcomed with open arms into an incredible life-changing opportunity that melted away all my fears in an instant. That’s not even close to reality. Reality is much more beautiful and full of messy details. The culture clash I was afraid of turned out to be a very real situation I had to deal with but not even remotely what I imagined. So it was a lot of internal drama for no substantial reason.

Transformation and Growth

The time I spent working for this engineering firm was nothing short of transformational. But it wasn’t overnight, and it was slow and steady, so I didn’t even see it until much later. Something about getting initial approval that yes, you are good enough to do this, kicked me into overdrive. I needed to prove to myself that I really could be the person that someone insisted I was. I started by reaching back to that time in high school when I briefly dabbled with a well-known MLM and remembered kind of liking Tony Robbins. I dove headfirst into some of the well-known personal development books that I remembered from that experience. Books by Robert Kiyosaki and Napoleon Hill. When something came up at work that I didn’t know how to do, or a problem to be solved, I jumped at the chance with WILD curiosity to find out whether I could learn to do that thing and then do it successfully. During this process of working on myself, a funny thing started to happen. As I became more self-aware I realized that I had truly been the only thing keeping me in place. Within a year, I secured a significant raise and assumed substantial responsibilities. Through the next few years as the firm underwent changes, I always adapted to whatever I needed to and went through a few various title changes and pay increases. Though my time there was immensely challenging, I built strong connections with the people I worked with and tried to use every interaction, whether mentorship or partnership, to further enrich my growth.

We had a “team spirit” day at the engineering firm once where you wear your favorite sports team. That’s me in the Star Trek shirt with dyed grey hair and thumbs up. I guess I kinda get why I was worried about fitting in but the people in this photo are nothing short of amazing.

Challenge Yourself

I can’t help but recognize the incredible power of taking that leap of faith in myself. It was a leap that not only changed my career path but transformed my perspective entirely on self-doubt and personal development. The support and belief that someone else had in my abilities became a catalyst for my growth, pushing me to challenge myself in ways I had never imagined. If there’s one thing I hope you take away from my story, it’s that we often underestimate our own capabilities. We let self-doubt hold us back from embracing change and embarking on new potentially scary opportunities. But as I learned through my experiences, sometimes all it takes is a little faith, both from within and from someone who believes in us, to unlock our true potential.

As you go about your own journey, I encourage you to challenge yourself in ways that might seem uncomfortable and terrifying at first. Take that leap of faith, whether it’s in your career, personal growth, or any aspect of your life.

I still to this day put myself in challenging and scary situations on purpose to see what I can learn. I am terrified of public speaking for example. And I am trying really hard to get a public speaking gig to show myself it’s not that bad. Remember, we are capable of achieving more than we think. So, why not take that first step today? Embrace change, believe in yourself, and watch how your path transforms in unexpected and inspiring ways.

Keep moving forward,

Amanda Nichols

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