It started as a side hustle…

They are terrible at putting up signs, but look really cute in front of one.

I don’t really write about work much on the blog, I’ve always liked to keep these two things separate. In my head, they felt separate. This blog feeds one half of my brain and soul while work fills a void in the other half. I sometimes feel like a split person….this blog is all thoughts and feels. My job as a real estate agent is more hustle, analyzing situations and problem solving. I love it though; it feeds a fire in me I didn’t even know existed until after I experienced life as a stay at home mom. It’s my dream job, and I’ve really only just started. What I’m realizing though is that what drove me to this job and what still drives it, is the other side of my brain. The feeling side. The people side, the side with emotions. So I decided it was finally time to share about it.

I am a working mom. I never thought I’d be happy to say that, but I am. I love what I do. It was a long road getting here though.

I started out as a teacher. Fourth and second grade. Darling ages. I picked that career by default as a freshman in college. My dad is a doctor and I recognized early on I didn’t have what it takes to walk that academic road. I was too social to be that disciplined. Plus, I’m a words girl; my brain is not wired for math and science. The worlds of business, design, or communications were foreign territory for my family, so I never even considered them as options when picking a major. There were only doctors, educators or musicians in my immediate and close extended family. At 19, branching that far out of my comfort zone seemed way too risky, so I defaulted to teaching. It seemed logical. I wanted kids, so I’d teach a classroom full, then have the same schedule as my own children in the process.

I realized quickly that teaching was not my calling. Which it really needs to be if you’re going to do it well. However, I LOVED my students. Because of them I learned some invaluable skills. They helped me learn how to pursue someone. How to study an individual and find ways to connect with them, then motivate them to do things they didn’t want to do, or harder still, believed they couldn’t do. Their victories were my victories and their struggles stayed heavy with me long after I’d left the building. I discovered how to appreciate hard and quirky personality traits, learned how to encourage, and how to stand my ground even when I didn’t want to. My students made me brave, they made me search for the positive, and motivated me to keep showing up for a job that in most other areas, left me completely depleted and full of anxiety. No, teaching was not my game. It taught me some necessary truths on how to be a grown up but the minute I saw an Exit Door, I ran for it. To be fair, I think part of the problem was the frame of mind I was in.  All I ever REALLY wanted to be was a Mom, preferably full-time and anything less left me feeling cheated. To say I was bitter that my ‘life goal’ of staying at home was not within my reach when Shepherd was born would be a huge understatement and a whole different blog post.  I was internally raging against this reality and it cast a shadow on the whole scene. Mercifully, my class that year was outstanding. Students AND parents. They handled Shep’s premature birth and my longer than planned time out of the classroom with such love and support. They made a hard situation so much easier and I will never forget their kindness.

My class created a giant Welcome Home poster for Shep and snuck it onto our house when we were released from NICU.

Flash forward: After 5 years of teaching, Erron had a new job and I was finally at home with two babies. Money was super tight which brought on a whole new wave of anxiety and a complicated sense of self worth. Every stay-at-home Mom I’ve ever talked to gets this feeling of tension so I won’t elaborate on it much. It’s hard to reconcile your value sometimes when you have nothing to show for your day. Even though you know your efforts are meaningful it can often feel like building sandcastles on the shore knowing  full well the tide will come and wash your work away. It totally caught me off guard how much I struggled with this feeling and I started wracking my brain for new careers that could provide us some financial breathing room while still allowing me to spend the majority of time at home. My heart still heart wanted to be with my babies but the reality of what that looked like was a lot more complicated than I had imagined. I went as far to enroll in the Dallas Community College. My plan was to pick up my sciences and work towards dental hygiene or PT school.  Then Erron switched jobs once more to get back to Oklahoma and we moved before my first class started. I continued my hunt for the perfect part time career in Oklahoma but when Shep fell in the pool soon after our move, our entire world stopped for about a year. I threw my plans on a shelf and focused all my energy on digging out of my grief and guilt. My anxiety took on a new form, it was now a burning ball of energy that had no outlet and we were wracking up medical bills from Shep’s physical therapies and our weekly visits with a counselor. It all kind of came to a head one year after Shep’s accident and I enrolled myself in a summer long real-estate certification class. I was tired of waiting.  I knew I loved homes, I loved relationships, and I needed a flexible job ASAP or I was going to go crazy from stress.  I’d figure the rest out on the fly. Three months later I was certified and under my current brokerage and trying to build a business from scratch. I felt vulnerable and exposed and terrified. But it was also a little exhilarating. I had no idea I’d enjoy the hustle as much as I did and still do. When I closed my first deal, with the most darling family who took a chance on me, it confirmed it; I LOVED my job. At first I thought of my business as a side hustle, if I made any money at all, that was a win. I quickly realized that I liked real estate a little more that and little by little I felt more comfortable taking on more clients as they came my way. The thing about helping people move is that moving is HARD. It’s never simple and people don’t tend to buy houses just for fun. (Investors not included.)  I like this part of the job. You get to really know who you’re working for when you help someone navigate a move. You find out how they respond to stressful situations which real estate can produce even in the best of circumstances. I discover what parts of their life are in transition that prompted their decision. Their family might be growing, or they went through something hard and needed a life change. Maybe they moved states and have to start over in an unfamiliar place. My job is to walk them through the process, support them, educate them, fight for their best interest and explain their options effectively. It’s communication to infinity. A friend of mine who is also a realtor explained it perfectly when he said our job is essentially helping our clients manage their expectations. It’s no small task but a pretty great way to explain my role. That, plus millions of other details.  But my favorite part of the job? I take my kids to school, I volunteer at their schools, I pick them up at the end of the day. It’s truly the best-case scenario for my family. My job is all over the place; which I consider a plus, I’m not stuck in one spot which truly drove me crazy in a classroom. Sure, it’s totally wild….I’ve had to step out of the car and lock my kids inside while handling a business call. They pound on the window while I throw them the side eye. I send some of my emails out around 11:00-1:00 AM at night. I have about 4 sitters on rotation in case there is an inspection or appraisal or an unexpected showing. It’s stressful and it’s still work. But my babies are seeing me do something I love and I get to contribute, which feels SO different to me now that I’ve lived long enough to know what life looks like without me working at all. It’s worth the hustle and it feels even better because I earned it.

The day I became official.

Dreams change. I used to dream of staying at home full time. My time at home is still so fulfilling,  but so is sitting at the closing table next to a happy client and knowing that my efforts have changed someone’s life in a significant way. Knowing that a unplanned trip is a possibility because of my financial contribution doesn’t feel so bad either. Basically, it’s way more than a side hustle now. Going out of my comfort zone and diving in headfirst into a new career helped drag me out of my depression after feeling like I failed Shep and failed Erron. It gave me a new sense of value, new challenges to master. Two years later and behind each house I sell is a client and a friend. Working adds to my sense of purpose. If you had told me as a new mom I’d eventually feel happier working, I might have slapped you. Funny how you don’t know what you don’t know about yourself until you slowly figure it out.

 

3 thoughts on “It started as a side hustle…

    1. Kristin,
      You are gone on the weekends occasionally, it’s definitely a big time for people to look at homes. But it’s not all the time, and not the entire day. So far I’ve still been able to plan around most soccer games. My husband is a huge help too, but I’ve also been the one at home while he goes in to the office plenty of Saturdays. 😉

  1. You’re doing a great job!! I had the same feelings of wanting to be a stay at home mom my whole life and the distress and guilt it caused me to have to work to help us out financially almost killed me. But you know what, I found something I’m good at and found a passion for something that I love to do. I could have written this story myself! You’re doing a great job, mama! Thank you for writing this. I grinned the entire way through, having felt all the same things!

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