From Black to White to Grey – a personal account of how I got here.

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Here is a letter I was asked by a newspaper to write when I explained my journey from accountant to jewellery designer. Its deeply personal but has led to this new personal blog. 

Dear Áine,

I must say as I think about you, I am in admiration. At 18 years old you are very self-assured and you have a plan. A path you plan to follow. You’re very black and white, however my dear, you’ll learn that black and white with experience becomes grey.

Remember how at 6 years old how you loved drawing and fashion. You wanted to be a designer, you just loved art so much! Somehow, as you became a teenager and your academic ability began to shine this was forgotten. Would you laugh if I said you’ll return to these passions?

You’re about to start university, you have great plans to become an accountant, to make money, be a career girl and to travel. When you qualify maybe live somewhere exciting like Hong Kong. What if I told you, that you’ll live in mainland China and it ‘ll be because of a man not because of your fabulous career.  Your famous quote is “I am never having children’. Yes, my dear, that statement will come back to haunt you, because life isn’t that black and white.

In the next 15 years, you’ll have the best life. Mostly great highs and you will achieve everything you want right now. But you know that gut feeling you have right now, about accountants, about how they sit in offices and quietly work. You’ll have a moment when you sit in the offices of the biggest accountancy firm in Dublin and say ‘I don’t belong here…’. Always listen to that gut but continue to see the bigger picture, it’s a great qualification, soak up all experience in different companies as an auditor you don’t have to be an accountant forever. Keep on working your university summers in retail rather than offices, that’ll stand to you in the future. Things will evolve over the years in an unexpected manner.

You will realise there are greater strengths than just being good at a subject at school. Your ability to talk with everyone and relate and empathise with people from all walks of life is a talent that you don’t recognise as a talent right now. You will meet people in University that are better than you at certain subjects. Rest assured, you’ll shine in a workplace, just like you do in the local shop as shop assistant right now. Hone that skill, listen to people, talk to people, don’t ever be afraid to be that part of yourself.

So you don’t end up living in Hong Kong, but you will get to visit Hong Kong loads as you’ll live in Beijing. You’ll end up there with your husband? HUSBAND?? I hear you ask. Don’t be sceptical but yes it’ll be love at first sight and he will make you a better version of yourself.

You will struggle in China. You will be homesick, you’ll struggle to enjoy your once prized career BUT you will find something very important, you will find your six-year-old self. You will take a calligraphy class. You will begin to draw again. You will have a light bulb moment for a jewellery brand.

However, 18 year-old Aine that biggest evolution will be becoming a mother. I know that’s not in the plan right now but trust me life is more grey than black and white and as I said things evolve. You are right about one thing though, motherhood is hard! It’ll take time but you will adjust into your motherhood role in time, don’t worry.

Once you become a mother, you will realise that you want to be there for your kids, to have a flexible job. But mostly, you’ll also realise if you are going to be a working mother you need to be doing something that makes you feel alive and uses your talents. What if I said, becoming a mother will give you the courage to open your own business? Yes, it will be so difficult to turn your back on your accountancy career, all that hard work, exams, long hours in the office. Motherhood will make this easier. It will give you the courage to combine your love of jewellery, design, business, sales and talking to people a lot? A jewellery business sparked by learning about the beauty and meaning of Chinese Calligraphy characters. It sounds crazy but life is journey, it evolves and you use everything you learn along the way.

You will find yourself in your early 30s, doing two of the toughest careers on the planet – being a mum and running your own business. Enjoy every minute of the next 15 years. Work hard, absorb every experience you have as you are going to need all that life and work experience in so many ways. And remember life is grey not black and white and things will evolve over the years.

Best of luck, you are one lucky girl!

The more experienced continuously evolving 33 year-old Áine

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