Lift Your Foot Off The Brake

I thought I wanted to be a college professor when I grew up.

So I enrolled in a graduate program as I made my way towards the goal. While I was in the program, I learned that the nearest Ph.D. program for marketing was at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  

A distraught 25-year-old Jennifer started to freak out because, "Oh my gosh, I'm too old to move to Atlanta."  

(go ahead, I will let you chuckle) 


Allow me to lay this out a little better for you. 

The year was 2008.  I was already enrolled in the MBA program which was $5,000/semester.  

I thought a masters degree was $2,500/semester so imagine my surprise when the tuition bill came.  I had somehow missed the fine print that there was an incremental add-on cost for the business program.  

Classes were packed with students as unemployment started to soar thanks to the economic downturn. 

My friends were all beginning their careers, getting married, buying their first home, and talking about settling down and starting a family. Meanwhile I was an unemployed graduate student who was living in a tiny apartment with my dog.  *cue the panic attack*

I felt like a fish flopping on a boat dock searching for the water.  

The same year I started my MBA journey, UNCC launched a new professional development program for the business graduate students, and given that I am an overachieving school nerd I signed up immediately.  

I needed help. 

Robin Boswell was the counselor over the program and on the first day of our work together she asked me a powerful question: 

"If you didn't have to worry about anything (bills, money, health insurance, anything) what would you do?" 

I had known what I loved to do my whole life, yet I was so embarrassed to say it.  

I turned to her and said, "I love to organize, but that cannot be a thing."

Let me pause right now. 

The word embarrass means to feel self-conscious or ashamed.

I was ashamed that my favorite thing to do in the whole world was to organize. 

Now we all know the story continues.  Robin was never interested in my excuses as to why organizing as a career and me as a business owner wouldn't work out.  She just kept giving me weekly assignments and I just kept doing them.  

After graduation I started the business and became a full time entrepreneur.  The road has been bumpy and many times I have wanted to hang it all up, but throughout the nine years I've been doing the thing that I love to do. 

Yet that young girl sitting in that chair, red in the face that her favorite thing was organizing, has been struggling this whole time. 

My approach had always been different than what others were doing in my field.  They would talk about taking trips to the Container Store and about getting everything all orderly and pretty.  

Meanwhile, I was over here "coaching" clients through their relationship with their stuff.  I hardly ever got to the pretty picture part where we could stand back and marvel at our excellence.  

I was offering therapy in motion, so clearly I thought I was doing it all wrong.  

You see, I didn't have a psychology degree.  I wasn't trained in this.  But yet again and again I found myself asking clients about the meaning of their stuff and the weight they placed on the reasons why they couldn't let go.  

I was never interested in buying the containers and the labels because I knew it didn't matter if we didn't understand the meaning of the mess. 

Do you want to hear something crazy?  I never saw the value in that.  I still felt like the fish on the boat deck trying to get back in the water to be like all the others.  

Inside I never believed that what I did mattered.  

So year after year I would stuff that little gift into the tiniest of boxes I could find.  I was still that young girl who was embarrassed by the gift God gave her. 

I've been holding myself back for nine years because unconsciously I still felt that my "job" wasn't good enough.  

One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 40:31:
 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." 
This whole time I was waiting on the Lord to show me the way.  I had no idea that the way was already clear and the path was right there in front of me, He was just patiently waiting on me to find the value in the gift. 

We all have a tendency to slow ourselves down.  We want to wait for the right sign or the right time.  We want to wait for more financial security or for our kids to grow up a little.  

We ride through our life with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. All the while, we are burning out the engine.  

Allow me to whisper this to you, "Lift the foot off the brake."

What are you waiting on?

Jennifer Burnham