Ah, May! The most transitional month of the year, full of watershed moments, celebrations, memory makers – time to move ahead on the next step of the journey.  In typical fashion of doing everything all at once, I graduated high school (St. Mary’s School, Raleigh, NC) in May on my 18th birthday. Those years at boarding school (age 16-18), provided huge growth opportunities and a swift reality check into the real world. Arriving as a student from a small mountain town into my all-time favorite city, I cannon-balled myself smack into the deep end of it.

I remember trying out for a Scottish dance team, and synchronized swimming. Their performances were mesmerizing and I wanted to be a part of them.  As you may imagine, I had ZERO experience. ZERO. Not dissuaded, when tryouts were scheduled, I signed right up. The officers of both clubs assigned a routine. God bless. What was I thinking? Wishing don’t make it so. And not everything is taught in a classroom. Some lessons and experience were obviously necessary to climb aboard. The humiliation became a great teacher, but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

Ultimately, I ended up on the swim team and clubs more conducive to my skill set. But it was a great example in realizing that groundwork is needed to pursue your passions and goals. And some things are just not meant for your wheelhouse.

Roll forward and here I am, a career coach further grounded by events of the past several years: the economic downfall, the now surging job market, the millennial entry into the workforce, the more seasoned generations staying in the workforce. Such a dichotomy. Employees with dated and weathered skills, versus those who want to enter corporate America at the top without the knowledge, experience and social maturity required.

The lessons and experience needed to move up and stay up is totally up to you. Don’t expect it to be a comfortable ride. Whether applying for college, trying out for a club, or entering the world of gainful employment, there are stiff reality checks along the way.  The harder the task, the more harsh the “NO,” the bigger the opportunity. Look at the extraordinary career and nomination hearings of Gina Haspel for CIA Director. She has never sought higher positions within the CIA. Her job promotions have come to her. And boy, has she paid her dues. Hers is a autobiography I want to read one day. I hope she writes one.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. If you want to make a purchase, money is required. Advancement requires paying your dues. EVERYONE has at least one boot camp in life. It may be in your childhood, teens, young adulthood. They are tests of your metal.  Hopefully, you don’t or didn’t have a helicopter parent bail you out. The more determined you are, the harder you work, the more difficult the challenges and boot camps become. If successful, you advance through each one into a higher, truer , more experienced version of yourself.

NEVER allow anything to dampen your enthusiasm or break your dreams. “Half of the failures of this world arise from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping,” – Augustus Hare.  It might hurt to try, but it sure feels great when you’ve prepared and succeed!


~ From the desk of Becky Morlok ~

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St. Mary’s School photo: Mary Virginia Swain

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