Alright! You all are in for a treat. I have asked my sister-in-law and friend to write about her story and leadership journey. Mandy, and her husband Trevan, actually are a key factor in Sara and I getting together. I’m so thankful that a joke about “dating Mandy’s sister” became my life story. Freaking awesome! Anyways, enjoy her humor, her drive, her love of family, and most of all her love of Jesus.
My senior year of high school, my parents were at a football game watching me cheer, and they ran into one of my previous Sunday School teachers. Now mind you, we hadn’t seen this family in YEARS, they moved to another town when I was really young, maybe 4 or 5. After talking with my parents for a few minutes, he turned and asked my Dad, “Is Mandy still as spirited as she used to be? I always remember having to make her think something was her idea or she wouldn’t be on board.” That was his very polite way of saying I might have been a little too big for my britches in my younger days, (ok, ok, maybe nowadays too.)
Now that I’ve painted this trailblazing picture, let’s get a little of the current details. I live in Northern Indiana, in a small little town called Pleasant Lake. Growing up, I was MADE for the big city. I had dreams of living in high rise apartments, public transportation, just owning the sidewalk I walked on. So, you can imagine my surprise (and much of those who knew me), when I ended up in a town of no more than 500 people (that might even be a generous census). I’ve been married to my husband, Trevan, now for 7 years, and we have two ADORABLE boys (also look up the phrase “all boy” and both of their pictures will be there). I graduated from the greatest MAC school out there, The University of Toledo, with a double major in Marketing and International Business, and I’ve spent the last 9 years with the same Fortune 500 Company, in electrical distribution. Fun little fact I love to share, we are 1 of 37 companies on the Fortune 500 list that has a female President & CEO. I spent the first half of my career in sales and business development, and the last 5 years of my career has been in management. I’ll say each job has come with its own set of pros and cons, but I firmly believe that my current role has been the most beneficial for my development as a wife, mom, leader, and employee.
One of the things I expect of myself, and from my management is full transparency, and I wouldn’t be giving you all any justice if you couldn’t expect the same. Faith has always been such a hard concept for me. I’ve grown up in the church, so I should be able to see God all the time, right? If I can be honest, it hasn’t been until recent years that I’ve really recognized God’s hand in my life. There were months that I wrote in my journal just begging God to talk to me. Now, please don’t mistake that for me thinking he wasn’t there the whole time, I just think it was more that I was oblivious to the orchestration that was happening around me. For some reason, I’ve had this belief that other people can ask a question of God, and within seconds they have an audible answer. Like, I’m going to ask, “God, how is this job going turn out, as if he would answer me just like Alexa. Sadly, for those of us with an obvious Type A personality so often wish (at least in my experience), he’s never just shouted out, “Well, Mandy….you’ll be at this job for approximately 4.2 more years, and then X company is going to hire you, and you’ll make 20% less, but you’ll be okay.”
Have you ever thought, what would you even do with that information? What if you didn’t like that answer? What if you loved the answer, and you spend the next however much time frame dreaming about what’s going to happen and miss everything important that happens in the in between? My “married in” family is full of pastors. I joke that it’s become the family business. So, I tend to ask them a lot of questions, because ya know, they went to Bible college and know everything, right? I can’t remember what question I asked of my Father in Law, but by the end of the conversation, my newest brother in law, Nick jumped in. I’ll be honest, I was asking questions that no one this side of Heaven has answers to, and he said one of the most insightful (yet awfully simple) things, “Mandy, sometimes we just don’t get to know the answers right now.”
W.H.A.T. Like for real, what?
Referring back to my obnoxiously Type A personality, that was hard to me to hear, but he was so right. He was so right.
I don’t know that I ever thought I would be in management so early on in my career. For my company, there used to be a very traditional career path. You’d start, be a trainee, then customer service, eventually into sales and so on and so forth up the ladder. So, when I was in my business development role, you can imagine my surprise when my District Vice President approached me about a Branch Manager role. At the time, I was one of the youngest BM’s by several years, tons of my colleagues worked for the company longer than I had been alive, but my boss was confident in my potential, and so I said yes and never looked back.
My manager when I started was amazing. I don’t know if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to work for someone who would literally make you believe you could move a mountain for them, but that was Steve. He was also great at making you believe in yourself and the potential you had. I was confident that manager was going to be with my company forever, like legit, I thought he was in line to become the President eventually. He was what some might call, the “golden child” of the company. Sadly, 6 months after I took the position, he left the company for what he felt was a better opportunity. I was just telling someone the other day, the Friday he announced he was leaving, I had the same feeling you get at a funeral, just an emptiness and not really sure how to move on or feel.
I always tell people, in the 5 years I’ve been in this position, I’ve had 3 managers, and somehow, they’ve all managed to “steer the ship” in 180 degrees from the person before them. My first manager was very empowering, he wanted you to put thought behind your strategy, and then it was yours to succeed or fail. My second manager was just here to party, haha. He was a great guy, and so long as he thought your ideas were fun, he was all in. My last and current manager is vastly different from the first two, much more focused on squeezing and pushing as hard as he possibly can to get the results and strategy that he thinks is right for the business. He’s always wanted you to (what feels like literally sometimes) fight to the death for the decisions you believe in, and prove to him 7 ways to Sunday that it’s going to be the right call.
I’ll say moving into management was a “pre kid” decision. While I wouldn’t change my career path for the world, I definitely think I would have potentially made different decisions if I had a family at the time. All that to say, it’s not that management and raising a family isn’t possible, for me, I always want to have this perfect feeling of balance. I don’t know if it was by nature or by nurture (maybe a little of both), but it’s always been a part of me to be an overachiever, perfectionist. As much as my “tough” confrontational exterior would lead you to believe I don’t care what other people think, I very much struggle with always wanting someone’s approval.
THAT IS HARDDDDD when you try to overachieve in every aspect of your life. Perfect Mandy wants to wake up at 5:30 get to work, put in 120% there, come home, be the perfect housewife, cook dinner, clean up dinner, be the perfect, super fun, energetic mom, put the kids to bed, go back to being the perfect wife, have a (semi) spotless house, get the right amount of sleep, and then wake up the next day with no bags under my eyes and do it all over again.
I’m here to tell you, because ya know, I’ve tried it. This is impossible. Maybe it’s just me that can’t achieve this, but I don’t think I’m alone in this. Everyone wants to toss around work life balance and ask you, “so, how’s your work life balance?”
THAT IS MADE UP MALARKY.
I hate to admit it but holding myself to that standard is impossible. Now, that being said, I think there is a season for everything. I fully believe you can do it all, just not all at once. Hear me out….there are seasons for sprinting. Seasons where you feel like if you stop running at the pace you are, you might die. Of course, I’m being dramatic, but you get the picture. Seasons where you feel like if you let off the gas it’ll almost all fall apart. That was last year for me. Work was insane, the world was insane (thank you global pandemic), we had our second little one, adding that to the mix alone might have been enough to put Mama in the ward, lol.
But then, there are also seasons for “rest.” Seasons where work evens out enough to breath, your newborn turns into a toddler that you are a little more confident in his ability to fight off his brother and he’s less dependent on you and your body for sustaining him. That’s right now for me. This is a season where I can give 120% at work, but I don’t have to forfeit the time with my family to do so. One of the hardest things for me to do is give myself the grace that I give others. Give yourself grace to not be thinking about work 24/7. Push that Mom guilt or whatever guilt you have out the door, it is not welcome here. TAKE VACATIONS. Even if that means just stepping away from work for a week, long weekend, a day, half a day, whatever that looks like for you.
Here’s the deal, working is hard, I don’t think God intended it to be easy. So, there are times when you’re going to have to put in more at work, whatever that looks like, more hours, more brains, more whatever. There are also going to be times when your family and personal life will have more or need more. So, throw the standard of “everything must be in balance at all times” out the window because for me that standard only gave me more anxiety. Give yourself grace. Even when you’re at work or away from your family, you’re doing what you’re doing for them. Everything I do is to help give my family and a good life, to be able to teach them what hard work looks like, to show them what it means to serve God through our work. Shoot, to be able to go on vacations and make memories, and to show them how amazing the feeling is when you have your needs met and you can help meet others needs too.
I hope you came here looking for some real talk, a place that you can take a deep breath and say “thank goodness I’m not the only one feeling this weight.” As my girl Elsa says, “let it go.” There’s so much else in the world that can be anxiety inducing. You trying to balance all the plates, while sitting on a unicycle, in alligator infested waters shouldn’t be one of them.