Interview: Goodbye, Wall Street.
A graduate of a top-ranking MBA program, Rosario S., 35, was well aware of the expectations of her, and, still, she chose to walk away from a lucrative and prestigious career on Wall Street with nothing lined up. A mother, wife, and now-budding entrepreneur, hear from her, in her own words, on taking leaps of faith, the pain of being judged, and surrendering to G-d's plans.
Interested in supporting Rosario? Check out HuesNook, her e-commerce shop selling colorful scarves, stoles, and shawls, hand-selected in India. For every product sold, $1 is donated to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, in appreciation for their efforts in caring for her daughter, who was born premature at 23 weeks.
The experiences that have most shaped who I am today are: 1) my upbringing in a traditional Mexican household; 2) my father's death when I was 9; and 3) the birth of my daughter, who was born at 23 weeks and spent over 7 months in the ICU.
I credit my parents for my values, my ability to culturally "code switch," and for instilling in me the importance of education. When my father died, I was forced to grow up prematurely and become a sort of motherly figure in my family. However, that experience made me a persistent and resilient person. As for my daughter's premature birth, I discovered a type of love I never imagined I could feel. This love put my life into perspective and made me realize that I value my family above anything else, including a prestigious career and/or six-figure salary.
I grew up in the so-called inner city of Los Angeles, and the level of expectation was pretty low.
For example, in my high school class of close to 1,000, less than 20% of us would go off to a four-year college. The younger me always yearned to move away from Los Angeles, perhaps as a way to escape, and I made that happen. I also remember really, really wanting to work on Wall Street as an investment banker as a way to prove to myself that I could do whatever I put my mind to...and I made that happen as well. So the lesson here is that our friend Paulo Coelho is right when he says (in The Alchemist) "...when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Some may consider this selfish, but, since I was a young girl, I've never really prioritized what other people think of me.
I remember my mom and I would argue about this when she would share with me whatever gossip she had heard about me. I don't want to lie; I do care about people's opinions of me, and, at times, I do feel the pain that comes with knowing you are being judged. However, I remind myself that my / my family's journey is unique -- no one will understand decisions I / we have made, unless they were involved in the string of conversations and thoughts that went into informing key decisions. For this same reason, I do my best to not judge others. So my advice: focus first on what's best for you (if you have kids/husband, they are a part of that "you" as well) without putting too much thought into what people might say because you'll always be judged, regardless of the decision you make.
Against my mother's advice, I decided to leave my undergraduate university to transfer to a very small private university in Los Angeles.
My mother was so scared that I had dropped out of college, and I had to convince her that I would still finish. It was an impulsive decision on my part, and I do wonder how different my life would be if I had stayed. Perhaps I'd be better off than where I am right now. However, I am content with the experiences I had once I moved back to Los Angeles and that they've led me to where I am today. If I knew better then, I'd probably select a university closer to home to attend out of high school since I was not emotionally prepared to face the challenges that came with being the first in my family to move away to college.
I have always had a high tolerance for risk, and I do believe that one cannot get ahead without taking risks every so often.
I left a good undergraduate university to attend a really small and not very well known university, I've quit jobs a person in their right mind would never quit to pursue other opportunities, and most recently, I've started a couple of businesses! I believe every time I've taken a leap of faith, I've always ended up in a better place. However, this better place is not necessarily directly related to the risk. For example, I quit a really good job in Washington, D.C. to go to business school full-time. The outcome? I met my husband, and we now have a little girl. I think it comes down to having trust and faith in what the future holds and also believing in yourself. I really do live by it!
One thing I've learned about love: G-d is good at surprising when one least expects it, and He has a plan for all of us.
The last thing I was expecting in business school was to fall in love, particularly since I was determined to land a job in banking and to focus solely on my career for at least five years post-business school. But He had different plans! When I first met and interacted with my now husband, I immediately felt that he was the one. Although we grew up in completely opposite parts of the world, we shared the same values and thoughts on life. Everything felt right when I was with him, and I did not have to try too hard; I could be myself. It took our families some time to accept our bicultural relationship, but now the love is so deep that you'd never imagine that was ever an issue. From this experience, I learned that G-d has plans for each one of us, and, as much as we want to plan life, many things are out of our control...surrender yourself and your soul.
I am a searcher by nature which means I've not necessarily had an "a-ha" moment about my calling.
Now that I am older, and perhaps wiser, I am working towards being true to myself and pursuing opportunities that are aligned with my values (i.e., family first, self care) and nature (i.e., jobs that bring out both the nurturer / helper and analytical sides of me).
Although I am my own worst critic and really hard on myself when I make mistakes -- and I've made plenty of them -- I do not have any regrets.
I believe that I am where I am because of everything I went through in the past, both the good and the bad. When I do find myself dwelling on the past, I remind myself that it is a futile exercise and to keep looking forward.
Three things that have most helped me to figure things out thus far in life are: 1) meditation, 2) valuing and prioritizing the advice of your most trusted advisors (in my case, my husband's and mother's), and 3) having trust and faith.
In addition, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to stay on top of one's finances (e.g., saving for a home, retirement savings, monitoring credit score). A lot of us ignore this aspect of our life -- it's not exactly fun and sometimes we face constraints outside of our control -- but it is so critical to figuring out key aspects of our life and getting ahead.
I am an introvert by nature, so I need time alone to recharge.
Now that my daughter is in India with her grandparents, I have more time to recharge by meditating and listening to and reading inspirational messages. I'm also trying to be better about jogging regularly since it helps me feel better, mentally and physically, but usually I just hide in my daughter's room to get work done. My husband is also an introvert, so you'll usually find us hiding away in different rooms; occasionally, we'll visit each other and get work done together / catch up.
Photo Courtesy of Rosario S.