When I started Engaged & Inspired, it was driven by a deep purpose to make the wedding planning process easier, faster and less confusing for brides. I was overly honest on my blog, put my pricing on my website, took a lot of the fluff out of my process, didn’t charge as much as others because I simply didn’t have the same overhead costs, and at every turn did whatever I thought was best to make the process more efficient and in line with my purpose. It didn’t go over incredibly well in the industry but brides were loving it. I heard my fair share of advice about how I shouldn’t do something or how I should do something differently. All that chatter didn't really phase me. I was and still constantly get feedback that my website is the best they have seen, I make things so easy, etc. etc. etc. That purpose shined bright and was the driving force leading the way in those early years.
After achieving some traction, I think I got a little comfortable, took the blinders off and started looking up at what everyone else was doing. I noticed that the culture was shifting. Design was becoming everything and I felt like that pressure to have “the most beautiful wedding” was dictating a lot of decisions and causing a lot of stress for couples. There was just a fundamental shift with the rise of publications and the clout those features bring, perfectionism and showing your worth as a planner by the size of the budgets you were working with. I’m not saying design isn’t important, there is just a difference between comparing and deciding between 2 shades of blush ribbons and comparing, stressing over, going back and forth on, having a small panic attack and then deciding. Spoiler alert: everyone is
Instead of fighting for what I believed in and educating clients, I said nothing. By default, I become a very design heavy planner and contributed to that culture and the pressure. I began looking for outward approval and acceptance. Was I good enough? Did other people find my work pretty enough? Was I getting featured enough? I let magazine features, my social media following and other external factors define my idea of what I thought success meant. I started feeling a disconnect. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at wedding albums or features and felt completely empty inside.
I looked at my goals list for every year I had been in business and found that I had completed or surpassed every single one. Even those crazy goals you put on there and think “there is no way”. I had this misconception that if I hit those, I’d be happy. As it turns out, I was exhausted, numbing myself in a variety of ways, and definitely not happy.
I was working ALL the time doing 35+ events every year (entirely by myself for several years), missing weekends, missing milestones in my life and the lives of those around me, and was burning myself out faster than I realized. After 3 years of intense self inquiry, reading over 100 books, a lot of therapy, a change in my lifestyle, business coaches, lots conversations with anyone who would “go there with me”, and about 85 blog posts that I wrote but never published because I felt self-induced pressure to keep up a certain appearance, I finally realized that I had swayed away from my original purpose long ago and there was simply no way to resurrect it.
I believe I have gained everything I was meant to through Engaged & Inspired and at this point, it is time to let it go and find a new calling. I always knew this day would come eventually, and though it has taken me a long time to gain the clarity I needed to make this decision, I feel so much peace just writing these words. I feel a tiny bit more myself again.
I’ve learned so much through the last 7 years and I’m incredibly grateful for the entire experience. I am a completely different person because of E&I, both as a businesswomen and as a human. I am incredibly proud of myself and the brand I have built. It has been my baby for so long, and though part of me is sad, I’m thankful that it brought me to a place where I could have the time and space I needed to realize and actualize my future goals with the confidence to do so.
So, what is next?
As far as Engaged & Inspired goes, I am looking at a few options to keep the brand going, and will continue to pursue those avenues. Nothing will change with current clients and things will continue to remain the same for a bit until we can comfortably transition over.
As far as my next move goes, honestly, I don’t know. Which scares the crap out of me. My current plan is to finish up the 2017 wedding season and execute the handful of events I have in 2018 while exploring various interests on the side. I have already started volunteering at a prison rehabilitation program, am training to work at a crisis hotline center, and continue to research and apply for opportunities as they come. I’ve pretty much ruled out getting a “real” job, unless it was at a smaller startup with a deeply social mission (something I am really craving right now), but who knows, that all might change too.
Right now I’m just trying to be ok with the unknown and see where it takes me. I’m going to start actually publishing a lot more of my writing, and do whatever I can to speak my truth, be honest about my actions, stand up for my beliefs and see who/what that type of energy attracts. I’ve bottled up so much for so long because I felt like I was not worthy of having or sharing my voice, but at this point, I am just ready to start living a life where my insides match my outsides and I feel like I’m in alignment with myself.
Talk soon, bye for now.