This time a year ago, I was loading my furniture into a moving van and saying goodbye to the friends I had made over nearly six years of living in California. I had made a big decision weeks earlier, and the time to say goodbye to a place that captured my heart like no other was drawing near. As I handed over my key to my roommate, left my big furniture behind and closed the door to the moving van, I admittedly wondered if I had just made the worst decision of my life. Somewhere in me though, I believed.
I moved to California as a wide-eye 22-year-old who never lived more than 15 miles away from home. I had huge and lofty goals. And I had the utmost belief that I was going to accomplish them. At 22, there was nothing that I wanted more than to be a big-time entertainment lawyer. I played my cards fairly well, and had some great opportunities come my way. I spent time in the legal departments of the Screen Actors Guild and Warner Brothers’ music publishing company, Warner/Chappell Music. I was networking and meeting people and attending red carpet parties. My girl friends and I would clink glasses of champagne and giggle about how good life was.
In late 2008, I was sitting in my cubicle at the Screen Actors Guild when the economy crashed. I remember all of the secretaries calling their loved ones in disbelief as to what happened and the air in the office turning downward very quickly. I financed law school on my own, as I come from a very middle class family. Financing law school and attending law school in southern California subsequently amounted to six-figure debt. These two factors–the economy’s collapse and my debt–ultimately shaped my post-law school career decisions more than any dreams or belief in myself that I held. In 2009, entertainment jobs were few and far between. That is, unless you were willing to work for free or nearly minimum wage. My financial situation allowed me the opportunity to do neither.
In the grand scheme of things, I was blessed after I graduated law school. While I wasn’t able to take entertainment law jobs, I found jobs that paid me very well, had full-time hours and gave me generous benefits. Ultimately, though, I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied because I wasn’t pursuing my dream. I wasn’t satisfied because the strong belief I always had in my ability to go into the world and get what I want from it seemed to be evaporating.
As I have explained previously, on July 1, 2011 my world changed when I launched RulingSports.com. I believed that I knew enough about sports and the law to launch a website. I believed that others would see my passion and knowledge and embrace both. I believed that if I stuck with it, sooner or later, something would break my way and I’d find an opportunity to get back to chasing my dream.
In the fall of 2011, I faced a big choice. The law firm I worked for in Orange County wanted to promote me. It was a great honor, but the promotion involved me moving to San Francisco and billing a significant amount of hours more than I was previously. I was fearful how these factors would affect my ability to carry on with RulingSports.com and continue chasing my dream. I prayed a lot during this time, asking God to give me an opportunity to continue building RulingSports.com. I believed that He would do what was right for me, and sure enough, he did.
In November 2011, my old boss from an internship I held during law school at a prosecutor’s office in Colorado called. He had a position open and wanted to know if I was interested in it. The position involved a 25 percent cut in my pay and leaving my beloved California. However, it granted me more flexible hours and the opportunity to be closer to my family.
In making my decision, there was definitely some lingering doubt over whether it was the correct decision. I remember going to bed fearful that by leaving southern California, I was giving up on my entertainment law dream. My good girl friends in California vocally raised this argument. I had also built a solid network of sports contacts in California, and I was scared that by moving 1,000 miles away, they would evaporate. However, I believed that if I wanted the ability to continue building RulingSports.com and this new venture I was on of creating a sports media career, that I couldn’t be working an 80-hour a week job as an attorney. I took a risk, took a pay cut, left my sunny home three blocks away from the ocean and followed the belief I had in God and myself that everything would work out the way it should.
As I sit here and type this, and think about everything that has happened in my life over the last year, the only word I can think of is “fulfilled”. My heart is full and I am so grateful for the countless opportunities that have come my way over the last twelve months. I cannot say that these opportunities wouldn’t have happened had I moved to San Francisco and worked that eighty-hours a week job. However, I’m fairly certain that they wouldn’t have.
In the last year, I’ve continued building RulingSports.com. I’ve worked with seven different interns for the website, whom I would hope would say that I have mentored them. I was approached by and signed with a broadcasting agent in May. I was asked by Forbes to cover sports business stories in June. I’ve continued weekly radio appearances in numerous media markets. I’ve been interviewed on television shows and have presented before numerous college classes across the country. I was asked by the University of Colorado to teach a course in the summer of 2013. Most exciting, perhaps, is that I was recently invited by the NFL to cover the Super Bowl. I was in my car driving when the asked me, and I literally screamed because I was so excited and surprised.
The reason I note all of the above is neither to boast nor brag. Rather, it is to make several points:
1. Never, never, never give up belief in yourself
You know what your goals and dreams are more than anyone else. Additionally, you know what you are capable of better than anyone else. Don’t cut yourself short and quit on your dreams or yourself. Life presents obstacles. Sometimes those obstacles require you to take a brief detour from your dreams and goals. Do not let a detour turn into a complete stop. Have enough belief in yourself to know that anything you dream is possible.
I nearly put my dreams in a grave from August 2009 through July 2011. I don’t want to say that I was hopeless, but I practically was. I wish I would have told my 25-year-old self to be patient and stay calm and that things would work out better than imaginable. Have faith and believe.
2. Believe in the possibility of good surprises
After you exit childhood, the unfortunate truth is that more often than not, the word “surprise” is associated with bad news. Cancer. Death. Layoffs. Those are the “surprises” adults expect.
As someone who strives to be an eternal optimist, this obviously bothers me. Yesterday I got to thinking about the things I’ve been surprised by this year. This year has definitely handed me some blows. My cousin was hit by and killed by a drunk driver in April. Cancer took my beautiful 26-year-old sorority sister. Those surprises hurt. But then there were some amazing surprises.
Signing with my agent. Being asked to write for Forbes. Reuniting with an old lover for a brief moment. Dates with an NFL player. Or two. Being invited to cover the Super Bowl.
These were all things I never expected to happen. And that is what made each of them awesome. They were surprises to me in the purest form. And they were all good.
The lesson is, to never give up hope. God, the universe or whatever dogma you might believe in has positive surprises in store for your life. Sometimes you have to travel through the valleys and frustrating times, though, to get to them.
3. Believe in more
Two Saturday’s ago I had to get two new tires. As I sat in the waiting room, I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone magazine with a picture of Taylor Swift on the cover. In the article about her, Swift discussed a reoccurring dream she has. In the dream, everything is being taken away from her. She has lost her career and fame. It all ends. She discussed how she goes out and works every day with the fear that someday, we’ll all wake up and stop buying her music.
It’s hard to believe that someone with the level of success Swfit has achieved fears this. However, it is an understandable fear for someone who has arguably reached the “top.” I’m nowhere near the top of my game, but I admittedly sometimes fear that I will not go any further in this venture. When I haven’t heard from my agent for some time, I fear that nobody is biting. I get scared that a major media outlet will never give me the chance I want. I get scared that I’m never going to be able to fully attain my dream.
These fears are normal and natural. However, each of us would be better served by having belief that there is something more out there for us. If you are here on this planet and breathing, you have to recognize that there is a purpose for it. That purpose you are here for, is to do something more than you did yesterday. Believe in that.
The last year of my life has been better than I ever believed it would be. I’ve grown so much this year and have been blessed in meeting so many great people. I’m so grateful for this journey I’m on–the twists and turns, hurts and pains, and all.