Career Progression Through Heartbreak

It should be no surprised by now that I was married and divorced at 21. If you catch me on a good day, I'll share the story of my early 20s trauma. But for now, I'll spare the details and talk about what it's like to move forward in your career while dealing with heartbreak. It's just interesting that I'm writing this blog post while watching Big Little Lies.

Each speaking opportunity in which I've attended, a woman from the audience approached me to thank me for sharing my experience with domestic violence and consequently divorce and how they themselves are women in tech who are in the middle of divorce and trying their hardest to move forward with their careers. They feel seen and are made aware of the fact that there are women out there who have walked in similar shoes and have came out on the other side.

I've had women shed tears and feel motivated that despite what they're going through, they feel a new glimmer of hope for themselves by hearing my story. That is why I share all of the icky parts of my career transition - there's always a guarantee that someone out there can relate.

So, heartbreak. It sucks when it happens. I won't go into detail on the emotional toil it takes on our body. Rather, I will touch upon the mental roller coaster we consistently ride until we're able to cope with the reality that loss has happened.

When I left my ex-husband, I was in the middle of trying to find my next step in life. I was nearing the end of completing my degree and I had spent far too much time on LinkedIn. LinkedIn made me feel like the worst possible person on this earth. Seeing my peers from college land 'big time' jobs in career fields they had spoken passionately about since Freshman year really hurt. I had even seen some progress into Director roles (like seriously, what?) and it was all just very frustrating. That's why I tell people to this day that I'm not a fan of LinkedIn. I say it's where you wanna go if you want to feel bad about yourself. I'm well past that phase in my life now but unfortunately, I still seldom visit the platform just given my past mixed emotions over the website.

I think the worst time to experience heartbreak is when you're in the middle of trying to get your career together. The second that heartbreak happens, you shut down. If you're in the midst of job searching - too bad. If you were working towards getting a promotion - well maybe some other time. The heartbreak takes power over you and you essentially lose all motivation to work on your career.

However, you gotta power through it. Yes, feel all the feels and experience your emotions. You're entitled to feeling those feelings. Just don’t let the pity party turn into an after party. It can be very easy to do that. I personally kept myself as busy as I could with work so that I could [a] forget about just how financially broke I was [b] take my mind off the fact that I had a couple of months to go before I could get my divorce finalized and [c] work towards leveling up so that I could find a job in tech.

And it was hard. I'd never want to wish that emotional toil on my worst enemy. Oddly enough, seeing all of my peers excelling on LinkedIn actually motivated me to want more for myself. I just really wanted more for myself. I wanted the ability to become a better person, past my then life. I wanted the ability to look back one day and realize that all of the work and sacrifices I made while transitioning during that period of heartbreak had been worth it.

I made it all work out in the end. Some days were more tough than others. I've had my fair share of crying and thinking that life was practically set for me with working a job that paid me the bare minimum to live slightly less than comfortable. But it was all a mind game. Our mind has such crazy control over what we feel and think of ourselves. I tried to shut out the noise and focus on the future I envisioned for myself. At first, it was easier said than done. But eventually, it became easier.

As much as I would like to share with you all that it only takes 3 simple steps to work through heartbreak while progressing in your career, the reality of the matter is that it's all relative. Different strokes for different folks. But I feel one thing that should motivate you to work through the dark times is to remember that everything in life in temporary. Those feelings of heartache that you may be feeling are going to go away eventually. Strive to do your best to minimize the amount of power that your emotions (or more important a person) has over you.

If you have a confidant, confide in that individual and express how you feel. I've found life to get easier by talking through my feelings with someone - not necessarily asking that individual for a solution. It's just helpful to get out how you're feeling. And once you've laid your cards on the table, place those thoughts and feelings into a metaphorical box and get to work.

I think the one thing that has helped me the most was to realize that no matter what, life goes on. I could've spent ages worrying myself over the fact that I was now single and divorced at 22 but at the end of the day, that wouldn't have helped me reach my career goals of getting into tech. It would've been wasted time and energy. So instead, I channeled that energy into striving to become a better person professionally and the April that you see today is the end result.

CareerApril Speight