• Ellen

I never got anywhere by making the safe choice

Updated: Jul 18, 2020


A few days ago, I asked some of my closest friends to tell me about a time they took a risk and it turned out to be the right decision. I felt as though I needed some inspiration, some proof, that going out on a limb wasn't always as crazy (or stupid) as it might feel.


It was only after several friends had recounted their own life-changing moments of truth that I realized I didn't need to look any further than my own history to see the pattern. So, while leaving a stable job at an established company during a global pandemic and economic recession might seem like the world's worst idea, I have about 20 years of experience telling me the same thing:


I never got anywhere by making the safe choice.


When I was 16, I gave up my spot at a prestigious high school to pursue an alternative style of education that suited me better. I was warned the choice would keep me from getting into a good college.


When I was 18, I gave up a nearly-full scholarship to a perfectly good college to attend NYU, who didn't offer me a penny. Not to mention, I had to move from Alabama to NYC, which everyone said would be impossibly hard to do.


When I was 21, I left my Brooklyn apartment (still locked into a lease, and all) with just my car and some clothes to drive to Miami because I was offered a production assistant job on a little-known show (at the time) called "Miami Ink."


When I was 27, and the victim of the periodic re-orgs and layoffs at Discovery Channel, I turned down an immediate offer to move to a sister network and keep the same job, opting instead to start my own company and sub-contract with larger production companies. This eventually led me to a job as a Producer on 2 seasons of Ink Master.


When I was 29, I packed up my car and drove from Maryland to Iowa, giving up a house and my entire career, because I knew I needed to be with the person I loved despite all facts that told us it wasn't possible.


When I was 33, with my new husband in tow, I bought a house sight-unseen and moved to a city I'd never visited to take a job that seemed promising.


So now, as the reality of my situation sets in (I just resigned from a stable job at an established company in the middle of a global pandemic and economic recession), I see that my current circumstance is not only unsurprising: it's downright predictable.


When faced with the option to do something risky vs. something secure, it's hard to recall a time that I've chosen the latter. I don't mean to sugarcoat things or imply that everything has gone smoothly along the way. I mean, don't get me started on the time I spent living in a treehouse in Miami because it was all I could afford. Or the time I worked at a grocery store sushi bar and a Swiss Colony call center simultaneously because I needed to pay rent and Dubuque, Iowa wasn't the best place for a career TV Producer to land.


But however tough the times were, I can look back and see that my path (winding as it was) always lead me to a better place...eventually.


Part luck, part stubbornness, and maybe even some divine intervention. I certainly can't take personal credit for the way things have always turned out. But that little voice inside me that screams when things get too comfortable? That spark that says "do it" even when there's every reason not to? I guess that's me.


When I was 36, I resigned from a stable job at an established company in the middle of a global pandemic and economic recession.

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