As we start a new month in a year that seems to be escaping all worldly constructs of how time should work -- seriously, I feel like it was just last week that I wrote my resolutions for this year -- I feel called to reflect on the journey I decided to embark almost ten years ago when I moved to this country. This happy girl in this photo had just graduated from a long architecture program with her cousin. With that, they had both joined their family legacy of now three generations of people dedicated to architecture, design, and construction.
My cousin and I with our grandpa and his dad. All 3 gens of Orrego architects.
And I had no idea how I would apply this in my life as I knew that only two days after this photo was taken, I'd be arriving in Vail, CO to figure out what to do with my life with my then fiancé who was from there.
Long story short, life showed me that it is never about your plans, it is always about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, facing your deepest fears, expanding, and then starting all over again so you can expand to a more advanced level.
I had to endure one of the hardest times when I got married and we had to wait for my immigration papers to be completed -- for a whole year and a half. I knew no one there. I felt so insecure. I constantly felt like I didn't belong there, and overlooked all the red flags that showed me I was in a bad relationship -- because I kept thinking that if the circumstances were different and if I tried harder, everything would improve.
It was only when I decided that life wasn't about suffering and striving -- and that I deserved to experience joy and put myself first -- that everything changed for me for the better. I was able to turn my life around completely. And it took everything from me to realize this. This was in May of 2015.
This decision led me to give myself so much, I moved to Aspen, I achieved financial security, and I finally closed that chapter. And then, I met the person with whom I share my life now. With him, I learned that real and healthy love is not just attainable, but what we all deserve.
Cory and I at the Maroon Bells
And because the Universe likes to make sure we learn these lessons fully, I had to relearn this one in a whole different setting, this time with my career.
For a while, I had allowed what we are all taught about "putting sweat and tears into things" to run the way I approached my work. I thought if I proved myself in this career, I'd find the recognition I so craved and would finally feel accomplished. I was chasing a sense of inner satisfaction from an external source. So, of course, I ended up manifesting a job in which this exact thought pattern would be stretched to the point of bursting. Just for me to realize that I could never get this sense of security from an external source.
I found myself in a very toxic (and I would argue even abusive) job environment with a carrot in front of me that promised me if I worked longer hours, and tried harder and harder, I'd finally be good enough. I put this job above everything in my life; above my health, my relationships, and my dreams -- just because I felt like if I strived just a little more I would finally reach the breaking point. But every time I thought I had gained some ground, more workloads would be added, the bar would be raised again, and I had to choose not to choose myself all over again.
And I realized that I had created the same situation for me that I did before, just in a new wrapper. I thought that if I strived and strived, I would gain this external validation that would somehow fill the void of the validation I wasn't giving myself.
So I had to make the decision, once again, to choose myself and go after something I truly believe in. As soon as I decided this job wasn't for me and that I had to create a sustainable path for my personal growth, doors started opening up for me and Atelier.
This May, I have the task to apply these concepts to a new paradigm that has opened in the last few months.
With startup financing going upside-down, AI taking over the world, and people, in general, having a whole new approach to life and work, we have the opportunity to build a new concept of a company that doesn't fit into any box ever built.
If there is anything I've learned from this deep-rooted pattern that I've had to break over and over is that there is no external validation that will ever fill our inner wells. No a16z oversubscribed round will ensure the success of your company. No Forbes cover feature will ensure that you are not a terrible person playing with people's money, or taking advantage of a system that favors those who fit a certain profile. And no vanity metric will keep you safe from others' ill thoughts and wishes.
The only thing that will build a sustainable life and purpose is your unwavering conviction that living a wholesome life and working on creating positive change -- that you might not even get to rip the benefit of -- is the best approach you can go after. We need to fill our wells, only then we can bring positive change to others.
My sister (now co-founder) visiting me in Aspen when I moved here.
Atelier has been evolving since its inception, always adapting to new ways to solve the problem we set out to solve: to streamline the home design process in a way that promotes sustainable practices and local economies. We know that there are a million to infinity ways we can solve this problem. And we are committed to finding the path of least resistance and the easiest adoptability for it. We believe AI is a tool that will help us get there faster. And we are very excited about this approach.
So join us in this new chapter. Follow our social media channels, subscribe to our blog, or reach out to offer help in other ways. And don't let your fears run your life decisions.