How Chase Your Dream When It Looks Like It Has Run Away
Photo Credit: Christine Sullivan
My path to creative entrepreneurship has been a very unlikely one.
I was born without my left leg and hip and a few other medically essential things. The doctor that delivered me cried, and told my folks to start preparing for my funeral. Thirteen years and 23 surgeries later, it was evident despite the odds I would be sticking around.
I learned early on that obstacles don’t have to be walls that stop you. If you kick them over, they can become the very things that propel you into your greatest purpose. (Yes, that’s me up above showing off my super secret ninja sidekick. Let’s keep it between us, OK?)
In 2006, I became an MBA dropout and moved sight-unseen a world away to war-torn South Sudan. With a few hundred dollars and a passion to see every child safe and free from exploitation, I hired a very scared cab driver to drive me on a barely there dirt road eight hours into a nation still at war.
I was welcomed because everyone thought I was a war hero injured in battle. No one had seen a white girl with one leg and crutches before. Let alone one wearing mascara riding around town on the back of a motorbike.
Photo Credit: Anna Betty Photography, Yei, South Sudan 2011
I rented a bombed out shell of a building and made friends with local mamas needing work and we opened our doors on Christmas day to any child needing a home. Over the next 7 years, I became mama to over 130 children, launched schools for hundreds more, trained leaders, walked into brothels and helped young women escape, and built an international development base in the middle of the bush. There was no running water or electricity, no paved roads, no banks, no real hospitals, no infrastructure and loads of active conflict.
Eighteen cases of cerebral malaria, chronic stress and malnutrition, and other tropical bugs completely destroyed my health. Ultimately, it forced me to move back to the USA and leave everything I had worked for, dreamed about and fallen in love with behind. I arrived back in the USA in 2013 sick, stunned and spiraling. I was being forced to attend the funeral of my 98% dreams and say goodbye to children I planned to spend the rest of my life raising.
Maybe you have had to walk away from a dream (or two or three). Maybe the big business goals you set 2 years ago are still missing in action. Maybe you feel so stuck and frustrated, you are inches away from giving up.
Don’t. We need you. Your voice. Your art. Your creativity. You. Disappointments are really just setups for reappointments.
My time in Africa may be over. But the dreams that were formed and birthed there are only now beginning. They just look way different than I imagined.
I found out in Africa, I love, I mean as in crazy-happy-dance adore helping people start things. I love the blank canvas, the empty page. I love helping creatives craft their brands and tell their stories. I love lettering and watercolor. (Who knew doodling could become a career path?) I love creating web spaces and seeing people be empowered and equipped to chase down their most-audacious, impossible dreams. I love connecting realm of creativity and business with social purpose and global generosity.
Photo Credit: Michele Perry Design Co.
I would have never discovered these things without my time in Africa. And I would have never been able fully step into them without leaving.
Don’t let a past loss steal a future gift. You’ve got this. Dream big dreams. Take small steps. Watch those obstacles become stepping stones.
I did the scariest thing I have ever done as 2017 arrived. I decided to chase the dreams that looked long gone. And I found out they have been with me all along.
Cheering you on in the chase. Your dreams, and the world are waiting.
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Brand Strategist + Business Champion for Creative Entrepreneurs | Stationery, Lettering and Design: MichelePerryDesignCo.com