Why saying good-bye was really saying hello. / by Antoinette Cauley

“You can be anything you want to. What’s stopping you? You are the only thing keeping you from your dreams. Go for it and fight with all you have! I believe in you.”

This is often the tone of the conversations I have with the group of teens I work with at my day job. I have spent the last two years working full time for a non-profit where I get to help teens who need mentorship and guidance. It is absolutely rewarding. I can’t explain how much joy and love I receive from the teens I spend hours with each day. They are my family. We laugh together, we argue, we joke  we annoy the hell out of each other, we share life experiences with one another and we offer each other advice and words of wisdom and encouragement when we need a little push. I am a role model to them. What kind of role model would I be if I told them to fight for their dreams if I am not doing the same thing? And so, I have decided that it is time to say good-bye. This is no ordinary good-bye though. My good-bye is really a “hello” to truly living my life.

As absolutely amazing as my teens are, I knew that I couldn’t stay here if I wanted my dreams to be my reality. There were days I would drive to work in tears because I felt so close to my destiny but it felt so out of reach every time I pulled up to my job. So many times I would sit at my desk before my teens arrived and think about all of the paintings I could be working on instead of spending 9-10 hours a day away from my studio. I'd think about the galleries I should be visiting, events I should be planning and networking I should've been doing in that time spent at my office. Soon I was having emotional break downs every two to three weeks because I was NOT where I knew I should be. I was also trying my best to balance full time work with my art career which proved to be very difficult and often led to sleep deprivation and other health issues.  I was not living my passion and it was taking a toll on my physically and emotionally. I found myself feeling depressed and unhappy and I knew that only I had the power to change that.

I am so happy to now say that after giving my resignation last week to my full time job, I will finally be the full time artist I have until now only dreamt of becoming.  While I work as a full time artist in my home city of Phoenix, I will teach fine art to youth part time to help maintain my connection with my community and the children and teens that need mentor ship. I will also begin teen fine art workshops in the summer of 2016.

I hope that you reading this right now won’t wait as long as I did to go for it. You can never fly if you never jump. There will never be a perfect time, you will never have enough money and it will never feel perfectly right. That’s when you have to leap. Don’t be that person who 20 years down the road says “I wish I would have…”. No, be the person who says “I am so glad I did.” 

I had a plan. I spent all of 2015 building and preparing to say “Hello” to living in my purpose.  I was a woman on a mission and the things I set out to do last year have now come into fruition.  But, this is only the beginning of what has already proved to be such an overwhelmingly exciting journey. What’s next for me? I have some big plans and big projects in the works. I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you on my road to living my dreams.