Good morning, everyone! It’s been a while since our last Inspirational Woman interview, so I’m proud and excited to introduce y’all to Samantha (AKA: Sam, Samoo, Muumuu) — one of my former roommates, a dear friend, and a major source of inspiration.
After five years of working in her comfortable but decidedly not gratifying career of graphic design, Sam found herself feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. After some soul-searching, she decided to make a huuuuuuuge change of course and pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant.
I still remember the phone call where she told me she’d finally figured out what she wanted to do, and my gut reaction was “That makes perfect sense — she’d be damn good at that.” Sure enough, she dove into doing all the things she needed to do (and believe me, there were a lot!) in order to take her life in a totally different direction. Fast forward six years, and she’s busy kicking butt as a PA and is in a much happier place.
Here’s her story.
I realized I was not happy with the chosen profession I was in at the time. I was comfortable, but I was unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and generally unhappy with both my job and my career. As I realized this, I also realized I had control over what I did with my life – and that because I had control over where my life went, I was going to take charge and find a career that would genuinely make me happy. I explored different career paths that I thought might interest me, and before long, I decided on medicine. Since my previous career was in graphic design, I started taking some pre-reqs in math and hard sciences so I could go back to school to become a Physician’s Assistant.
What have been the high points and the low points?
The high points: I am much more satisfied now. [Side note: Sam is a seriously badass PA in an ICU, which isn’t exactly a low-stress gig. She’s awesome at what she does, which involves making life-saving decisions under high pressure while dealing with a bajillion different – and often competing or conflicting – variables. If, God forbid, you ever find yourself in an ICU, you’d be one lucky guy/gal to have someone like Sam taking care of you.] The low points: I gave up a lot of time. The time I spent in school was time that was dedicated almost solely to my pursuit of a new career. The rough part is that this seems to have been to the detriment of other areas of my life (most notably, finding love/getting married/starting a family).
What obstacles have you encountered?
Especially early on, it was hard to give up a paycheck (and the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to with one). It was also hard to give up my free time especially when that translated to maintaining friendships, dating, etc.
Do you have a support network and/or personal cheerleaders who have helped you in this process?
My parents and friends were really helpful. They listened to me when I was struggling, boosted my confidence when I was unsure I had the ‘stuff’ it took to get to the end. It also helped to have school friends that could commiserate with tough experiences and validate feelings that popped up along the way.
What have they done to encourage you and help you move forward?
They remind me of my strengths. They remind me I am not alone. They refresh my memory as to why I set down this road in the first place, and they help me renew my desire to get to my destination!
If you could give advice to women who are either trying to find the courage to pursue their dreams or are at the beginning of their own journey, what would it be?
There are no wrong decisions, so don’t waste energy regretting what’s already done. You have control of your life – if you’re unhappy, root out why and make your best attempt to remedy it. Although it can be scary and intimidating, you can make a change. So: if you think you need one, go for it! A good friend had a great magnet on her fridge with a motto that I subscribe to: Leap, the net will appear. This helped give me the reassurance and strength I needed to take a big risk in making a huge career change, and it has definitely paid off.