Updated: Apr 27, 2021
The path you've envisioned for yourself isn’t always the one you’re meant to follow.
photo credit: Butterflies of Hope Photography
I’ve spent my entire life taking the expected and right path—doing my best to be a good person and living by the code of hard work pays off. Then something happened to me that shook me to my core.
When I was very young, I was told the only way I would be able to attend college is if I made the grades because we wouldn't be able to afford it. From first grade on, I knew I HAD to have straight A’s, or my efforts wouldn’t be enough—at least that's what I always thought in the back of my mind. This is probably why I was always so hard on myself about l i t e r a l l y e v e r y t h i n g.
I am STILL extremely hard on myself, but I'm working on it.
Excelling in school, being involved, and making lots of friends was what I did best. On the outside I probably seemed as if I had it all together, but on the inside I was a constant wreck. I never realized the building of pressure in my chest—that felt as if an elephant were sitting on me—the major stomach aches I would get when I was worried—tests, someone being mad at me, something I had said— or that everything I experienced that lived on repeat in my mind was actually…anxiety.
Fast forward to college, where I also excelled AND furthered my love of art. I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer since 11th grade because I couldn't possibly attend college not knowing what I wanted to do. I had neither the money, nor the time to have the flexibility to decide what field I wanted to go into at a later date…anxiety ever present.
After working my bottom off in the art program at LSU…GEAUX TIGAHS…I knew becoming a graphic designer was what I was born to do. I loved design and felt I was good at it—having a detail-oriented view and a way of making everything I created be well thought-out with a story and purpose. This was the path I was supposed to be on…right? After all of the hard work, long hours, and countless design jobs and internships, I graduated Summa Cum Laude and was damn proud. In true Kadie fashion, I was filled with worry about finding a job, but also of the inevitable, insurmountable disappointment and failure looming over me…because helloooooo anxiety and my darn confidence never being what it should. I snagged a job at a magazine before graduating. Then I went on to work for a casino, hospital, advertising agency, and eventually a large, advertising company.
During this time I married the love of my life and had two, beautiful baby boys. They brought me such joy during complete career chaos—I bet you can't say that 5 times fast. They gave me the gift of motherhood, which I have always yearned to have. Along with this, I also desired to be successful in my career. It's such a difficult balance, and I was barely getting by physically and emotionally.
As most bright-eyed college graduates, when I entered the workforce I was looking forward to my career—to be able to mold all of my experiences into something great. I had worked so hard for so long. The desire to be proud of how far I had come and rise to the top with my amazing work ethic, a caring heart and determination to be the best I could be blinded me. As most of you know… the real world sucks…no one really cares about the individual. Most care about themselves and what you can do for them—more accurately, how much you kiss their you-know-what.
With each job I have had, I have learned more about the true nature of most companies and this industry. Coming in early, working through lunch, and staying late—sometimes working at home, after hours—while managing to pump during the day for my babies and still have an efficient workflow in quantity—most importantly, quality—was never enough. Despite my constant motivation to do well, I was treated poorly and thrown into a toxic environment that made me feel as if I was constantly treading water. Losing my ability to move forward—having lost hope that it would get better because of the way I was treated—I was absolutely miserable at work and, oftentimes, at home.
Aside from the company’s lack of truly caring—disingenuous efforts to make it seem like superiors care—there was also a false sense of security and safety in HR that I, unfortunately, discovered from personal experience…as I have heard, this is nothing new. Everyone is out for themselves, and when it comes down to it, morals and values hold no water. I found myself being let go because of fabricated situations clearly designed to find fault in my work and deflect from the underperforming superiors and peers.
Well…this hurt…naive Kadie—too bad the "fool me once" saying is more like fool me 5 times—thought good would prevail by being honest, putting her heart into helping her team, and finding solutions to make the work culture and environment less toxic…and she lost.
My life was turned upside down. My "right" path was plowed through by the very people who had always had the wrong motivations and intentions. All of this was possible because they knew I cared, was a good worker, and wouldn't go along with their misconduct. My insurmountable failure had become my reality…
At this point I was at an all-time low, not knowing what my purpose was or why this happened to me.
As a hard-wired team worker and lifelong people-pleaser, wrapping my head around the fact that I’d been fired was all-consuming. I’d meticulously spent my entire life with a certain plan—the correct way to do things—so how had it gone completely sideways? And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse…quarantine…need I say more?
Within a couple of months, I went from being an overwhelmed, full-time working wife and mother of two toddlers, to living in a bubble of fear that none of us could have predicted. The creeping depression from losing my job and questioning my self-worth always looming overhead. The "WE CAN'T GO ANYWHERE, SEE ANYONE, TOUCH ANYTHING" panic lasted the entirety of those first three months of quarantine. Being newly pregnant during this time made me feel scared-to-death of what this virus meant for me, my family, and my unborn child.
During those months I lost my mind at times, felt completely alone, wondered when life would feel normal again, and surprisingly gained the most clarity I’ve had in years. My job was lost, my career in shambles, but my family was here, and we were together—so much more than we have ever been. Yes, some days were absolute hell, but others were completely magical. It gave me a new sense of what life could be. That I could breathe, and my so-called failure wasn’t as detrimental as the crippling fear of failure had been my entire life.
With this new lease on life, I sought to find my new purpose. I've always wanted to do good in this world, and utilizing my design skills to spread understanding and kindness felt like the right choice moving forward, but what did that look like? Of course all three of my boys bring me such joy (and chaos), and I've always hoped to have the flexibility to be there for them—which I now had. Still, something was missing, and I knew I could do more.
As fate would have it, I found myself talking with a good friend, one day, on a topic that sparked a fire in both of us.
My friend, Emily (Madelynn's mother), was one of my closest friends that was by my side throughout this entire, all-consuming process. Her support had meant so much to me, yet, not long after losing my job, her life took an unexpected turn as well.
About a month after I lost my job, she and her husband discovered Madelynn was blind. Listening to her story, Madelynn’s prognosis, and everything they would have to go through—not having definitive answers no matter how hard they looked or whose help they sought—really put my situation into perspective. So I lost my job. Who cares? Our family is alive. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, and love in our hearts. Over the next year, I began a path of healing. It just happened overtime without me totally realizing it. I guess what they say is true, time heals all wounds.
Emily, our friends, and I would spend time together, and Emily would update us on Madelynn—how far she has come, the wonderful things she was doing that they never could have dreamed, and the amazing doctors they have had to guide them. On one of our visits, Emily mentioned her love of Harry Potter and how just one of the books in that series in braille would cost $100...insert jaw drop...How on Earth should people who already have countless medical expenses, doctor visits, therapy and so on be required to pay $100 for ONE book. Everyone else can obtain THE ENTIRE hardcover collection for only a few more dollars!!!! Haven’t they been through enough?
This stuck with me for the next two weeks or so. Everyday it would just pop up into my head and make me so incredibly angry. I know there was so much more that they had to worry about, could be angry about, and so on, but this Harry Potter thing was utterly ridiculous. I reached out to my friends about trying to create a blog, or perhaps awareness graphics as an outreach to make the world more aware of Madelynn, her journey, and the resources available to those who need help and guidance.
Not quite one week later, Emily texted me, happened to mention she wanted to start a children's boutique for smocked clothing—Madelynn is naturally the most well-dressed little girl I have ever seen—and that was all she wrote!
From there our ideas were bubbling over, our excitement about the possibility of this new venture and all it could mean for Madelynn and her family, the blind community, and all of our lives planted a seed of joy I thought I had lost and wouldn’t be able to find again.
The path I saw clearly in front of me for my entire life had been trampled. By experiencing my worst fear and what I thought was an ending, led me to uncover my true purpose—creating something good that I can be proud of. What a beautiful sight it is to finally see the journey I was meant for!
Click here to read Emily's story on how we came to be A Beautiful Sight!