Bouncing Back From When the Door Shut On Me

October 2017 – Instagram rolls out their first major algorithm change.

November 2017 – my small shop ends the year stable but not great since these changes affected my sales during peak season.

2018 – I continue to see record low months as Instagram, Facebook, Google, and Etsy all change their algorithms again and again.

November 2018 – my small shop sees 1/7 of the amount of sales as the previous November.

By the end of 2018, I finally concede. The last year has left me broke, stressed beyond repair, shattered emotionally, and utterly defeated. I have to make the decision to move back in with my parents because my bank accounts have been drained and my credit cards have been maxed out in failed attempt after failed attempt to try to get my business back up on it’s feet. But it’s been no use.

By January 2019, I have been looking for a new job for a month and have been turned down countless times with one company looking at my resume and even saying “oh you own your own business? So you don’t have any time for us.” Well, no.. Otherwise I wouldn’t have applied here.

But a late birthday present arrives for me in the form of a call back from one of the places I sent an application to – the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The next day I am there for my interview with Flightline and Jungle Ropes Safari. I left feeling great (despite the fact that I cussed during my interview….) and optimistic! I would know by the next day if I got it or not.

That next day, I wait. All day. Just waiting for my phone to ring. That seemed like the coolest job in the world to zipline and do obstacle courses and get PAID for it! Finally the phone rings – and lucky me, I GOT IT! I would get to be a tour guide for Flightline and Jungle Ropes! I would get to be around animals, give tours to people who also love animals, zipline, do the obstacle course, and literally just have fun all day.

I am writing this now ten months into this job. I have met the most amazing, funny, sarcastic people in the world that I love working with. I have taken on another position in the park for a new night time safari. AND as of last week, I have officially been promoted to a relief lead position along with one of my other coworkers and friends, Austin!

Ten months has felt like ten days! That year and a half of feeling like a total failure left me feeling pessimistic and honestly kind of a grouch, because, at the time, what would I have to feel happy about? But as soon as I started working there and started working with people that were happy to be there, were helpful in getting me trained quickly, and wanted me to succeed and be better, my mood started to lift! Month after month, I could feel my stress slowly dwindle down and I could feel my true, happy nature starting to come back. I literally get to run around all day in the outdoors, overlooking some of the best views of some of the most endangered and beautiful creatures in the world, and have the most fun coworkers ever. It took a lot of time (probably up until these ten months here) for me to calm down a little, not be so uptight, and enjoy my work again!

So why am I telling you this?

Because my small shop was me. My small shop was my CAREER. That was MY thing that I built from scratch, and I built it up to be successful and it was something people really cared about. And then somehow practically what felt like overnight, some big company took that away from me.

I felt like a complete failure. It felt like I had wasted my time and energy pouring my life into a business that now gave me no returns. And the worst part of it was, applying to new jobs was the most degrading towards my hard work. Why? Because not a lot of people view owning your own one-person business as actual experience because no one but yourself can vouch for your work ethic. What did they view it as? “Cute. You had a hobby, congrats.” Yea ok, don’t look at my business degree as having helped me navigate record-keeping, doing the end of the year taxes, handling customer service, creating products, marketing those products, collaborating with other people as a way to boost reach, all the while not having any other job during this time because this one brought enough business for me to sustain a living in San Diego. Yea.. that definitely sounds like a hobby to me too….

But I kept trying to make that dream of mine come back into view. But I can’t and don’t know how to bring my dream back. Everything I have tried does not work. And it was finally coming to that realization that made “applying for a new job” seem like a step backwards. It made me feel like I failed. I created my shop so I wouldn’t have to work for someone else and here I was doing exactly what I didn’t want to do.

But you know what? Ten months later, I am fine with it. You know the saying that “when one door closes, another one opens”? Well when my small shop’s door started to close on me, I honestly never imagined another door would open. BUT IT DID! In the form of the best job in the world!

Do I make as much as I used to when my small shop was in it’s prime? Not even close. But I have something so much more valuable than that. A job I care about, people that I love to work with and hang out with, an environment that is fun and sarcastic and chaotic in the best way, and a better attitude.

I want this little story to inspire someone. Someone who has ever felt like I have. Because what I thought to be my worst blunder ended up being the reason for the job I have now. Ten months in and I am writing this as a newly promoted, so much more fit and tan, happily employed by someone other than me, person!

So what I am trying to say is that maybe the dream that you thought was your true purpose was just a stepping stone. And just maybe what truly is the best place for you is still patiently waiting for you.


If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

– Marc Anthony

– Donna Faaborg

{Shoutout to any fans of The Office who can understand why I wrote this quote the way I did}



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7 thoughts on “Bouncing Back From When the Door Shut On Me

  1. JP

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and heartfelt look into your story. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, as hard as it seems. I am also in the process of trying to figure out where I fit in, after an 7 year “career” in a place I no longer feel my work matters and am also struggling with not having the experience job posting expect I should have in this stage of my career. It’s a hard journey sometimes, but I am so excited to see the happiness you write about your new role! I wish you nothing but the best as you continue this new path forward. And don’t forget ‘“you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – wayne gretzky’ – Michael Scott

    Liked by 1 person

    • donnagail.bby

      I hope nothing but the best for you and your new journey! And thank you so much for your kind words. And thank you for that ending comment 😂 Michael is such an inspiration to all of us

      Like

  2. Love you so much. This was hard to read as a friend/supporter because obviously we don’t always know 100% what’s going on all the time. Your next adventure is going to continue to be an amazing one. Hope one day to get out and get a personal tour with THE Donna!!! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • donnagail.bby

      I will surely make it the cheesiest and best tour of your entire life. You May never recover for the sheer awesomeness 😉🐅🐆🦍

      Like

  3. Emily WeveGotEars

    You’ve inspired me again! I truly understand and I’m so happy you came out better. My small shop dreams fell short too. I’m back at a full-time job and working my shop on the side. It was so hard to swallow the “failure”. I still struggle with it. But thanks for reminding me yet again that I’m not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • donnagail.bby

      Emily you are amazing for this! I am so glad you commented because I think all us small shops need to stop faking that everything is fine or that we sell out. We shouldn’t NOT talk about this because it’s taboo or something stupid. I’m glad I can inspire you and I hope for both of our sakes that we can find our dreams elsewhere.

      Like

  4. Pingback: A Different Method in Dealing With Anxiety – Donna Gail

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