Today’s Defectors contributor post, the last of series 2, comes from Presence’s Kayley Robsham. Not sure what we’re doing here yet? All is revealed here.

It’s been two years since I wrote my first post about defecting.

I learned so much from falling out of love with a career path in residence life I thought I wanted, I feel compelled to share my story about what I’ve learned.

To begin, this journey was very much unplanned. You don’t expect to fall out of love with a career—much like entering into serious partnership or marriage, I imagine. When I made the decision to accept the position with Check I’m Here (now Presence), I never thought this was where I was going to be.

As I shared two years ago, the doubts I identified were considerable, enough to make me want to test new waters:

I had seen women in leadership roles that seemed like they couldn’t move up the student affairs ladder (never mind queer women). How long would it take me to “climb the ladder” and prove I was worth it? Why did I feel like I had to? Things like work/life balance and lack of women in leadership positions in a field heavily populated by women made me think advancing was impossible (in addition to moving across the country if I wanted to take higher level positions in the future). Considering the quality of life and systematic deterrents I decided to consider entrepreneurship in higher education instead.

I was proud of myself for trusting my gut instinct and I was pretty damn excited. I stepped out of the light of I what I should be doing, and started to look forward to a space where I would feel more authentic and dedicated. Up until that point, I had worked myself to the bone and had not prioritized self-care. I was depressed and was hard on myself for oversleeping, drinking, eating unhealthy, and the list goes on. My new job made me see self-care in a different light, and that’s when it settled in that I made the right decision.

I think many people in the early stages of their working life feel this pressure that they have to figure out everything around their career at a young age. My observation is that most people go through many career changes and don’t find their calling until later in life.

Elle Luna’s book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion validated my own feelings of not being sure of what I want to do. She embraces the message and highlights differences of being in a job, creating a career, or finding your calling. Luna explains there is a difference between going to work and becoming one with your work, which I believe takes patience and time to figure out.

Although I do feel much better about how I am spending my time and living my life, I don’t think I’ve found my calling just yet. There is so much to do and to explore, and I’m so excited to see where my strengths lead me and what new strengths I potentially develop.

Here is what I’ve learned overall: If you are in a job that is not making you happy, and you know there is another job, career, or calling you’d rather be doing, no matter what it is, it is up to you to facilitate change. For me, I didn’t want the ‘what if?’ to be in the back of my head forever.

Now, I feel like I’ve had the time to create more opportunities for myself since I’ve defected. I’ve taken the time to get to know who I am, and I’m still figuring out where I’m headed. Two years ago, I noted, “Pushing myself to apply to a position that aligned with my professional goals outside of my comfort zone has strengthened my inner voice immensely.” That notion remains true, and I encourage you to similarly empower your inner voice: who knows where it could take you?

It was a hard decision for me to defect, but I knew I wanted to be happy in my job, whether I was working in student affairs or adjacent to it.

Kayley Robsham (she/her/hers) is a life coach, inclusive data advocate, and teacher of social media marketing to fellow solopreneurs in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2015, she found herself as a new student affairs professional and decided to make the jump to educational technology (“edtech”) to impact the lives of thousands of SA pros and students. She’s currently the Community Engagement Manager at Presence.

The Defectors (series 2) is sponsored by Presence. At Presence, we’re working to solve all of the higher ed problems you’ve always heard couldn’t be fixed. If you love asking questions, finding solutions to intricate problems, and learning about new people and places, we want you to join our team. Check out our open positions and apply today!