July 26, 2011

How We Got Here

At this point, it’s been asked a hundred different ways.

What kind of law did you want to go into? Did you ever actually practice? Well, do you ever think of going back?

But when you really boil it down, I think they are all asking the same question: Deep down inside somewhere, aren’t you really afraid you made the single biggest, gaping mistake of your life?

It was five years ago this month.

Five years ago that I walked out of my advisor’s office with the final notes on my final paper, and maundered down tree lined streets. The stonework and stain-glass windows closed in tighter around me, showing my reflection. Making it harder for me to breathe. And reminding me, just in case there was any doubt, that they were as ever my own personal prison walls. Not to be mistaken as some doorway to a future that I didn’t want any part of anyway.

The dappled light danced and dodged, and played tricks on the unsuspecting shadows beneath me. I shifted under the weight of my laptop bag, as I sat down on a stone wall and waited, like always, for Justin to pick me up. And as I waited, right there on the corner of College & Broadway, somewhere between a stone wall and a hard place… I cried.

Big, fat, soppy, silent tears. They slid down my cheeks and crashed into to my bare legs below. I stared at the newly forming puddles as the silence roared inconsolably through my ears. I closed my eyes and prayed for it to stop. For the whole world to just stop turning. For time and space to take pause and stay where they were. And stop hurtling me in the direction of a life I never meant to choose. Through punching bag eyes and tightly clenched teeth, I shook my head at the silence and asked myself yet again How did I get here?

It was five years ago this month.

I know that because I just got a notice in the mail for the class of 2006’s five year law school reunion. Five years since I sat out on that stone wall crying fat, soppy tears. Five years from the girl who wasn’t sure she even had a choice. I guess I should tell you that I did go on to finish that final paper and graduate, but two months later we left everything behind to start this business. And we’ve never looked back.


Because we made a choice. And what we decided is that we would rather have a life we built and struggled for ourselves, than to rest forever in the sheltered shackles of a life we never wanted but for the simple solace that it seemed safe. See, we all have walls. The only question is what we do with them.

So just so you know, if I ever see you and you ever ask me if I’m worried that I’ll regret it, if I ever worry that I made a big mistake….I’ll look you right in the eye and tell you not even for a second. Not even in the leanest, hardest, scariest times of our business when we’ve both been knocked to our knees, have I ever wished to be standing in that girls shoes. Because this right here, this is a life that we built. It’s a life that we chose.

And if nothing else I can at least always say, I know how we got here.

“I would rather regret the things that I have done, than the things I did not do” -Lucille Ball

  1. Anda

    Loooooooove this!

  2. Katie

    I am there. Right now. Hating my job. Wanting to follow my dreams. It’s encouraging to see others have been there and done it. It doesn’t make the leap any easier….

  3. dawn beirnes

    I cannot tell the times I get off work, walk into the parking lot, and think to myself "one more day over", get in the car and just take a deep breath. Although thankful for my job, burnt out doesn’t begin to describe it. I dread every Sunday evening, knowing it’s starting all over again. I seem to get knocked down just when I think there might be a chance this photography might get going. I hope one day I can over come the things that are pulling me backwards, but until then, me and my camera hold onto the dream.

  4. Gabby / En Route Photography

    Girl I could have written this post myself by substituting the words law school to business school. I even graduated in 2006! ;) The difference is that I wasn’t lucky enough to find my alternate route right out of school… I struggled in a cubicle for almost 5 years before I realized my dream and decided to live it! ;)


  5. Regina Marie

    It’s so good to hear about people who have chosen this path and been able to forge on with it… really MAKE it theirs! I’m still starting out, and hearing this makes me wonder what tale I’ll be telling in 5 years. Thank you for sharing!

  6. MM

    @Regina: ooh I can’t wait to hear your story either!! Rock it out!

  7. Julia R

    Mary, as usual, this post couldn’t come at a better time. When I first met you & J, I told you that I was a China analyst with big dreams of becoming a social worker and helping people to transform their lives. Here I am, 14 years into studying Chinese, 7 years into my career as a research analyst, 1 month into my marriage to an amazing husband…and I just gave my notice on Monday. I’m going to follow the dream and become a social worker! I’m terrified beyond words, but excited beyond measure! Thanks for being so inspiring :-)

  8. GrandmaIna

    I always thought loving your job was more important than making a lot of money. I’m happy that you made the right choice!

  9. Amanda Driver

    Mary, are we long lost sisters? I dropped out of grad school in pursuit of our photography business this year. Great post, lovely writing & photos! Thanks for commenting on the blog! XO

  10. Christa

    I don’t know what else to say.

  11. Candace

    Beautiful as always. I, too, am doing this wonderful photography thing rather than using that degree in Elementary Education I got. And I’m so happy to be exactly where I am. :) By the way, Mary, thanks for the comment on my blog today, it totally made my day today!!! :)

  12. Kristin H.

    Not only did that bring tears to my eyes b/c I related to almost every word (minus ya know the Ivy law degree and all :), but then you had to go and end with a quote from my favorite actress. Like, ever. I heart you Mary Marantz! And btw.. SO glad you’re not a lawyer :)

  13. Gwendolyn Tundermann

    I just want to burst into tears right now! So happy you made that decision and never looked back! You’re an inspiration! : )

  14. Jil

    i love this post. and i am SO HAPPY to see Grandma Ina on here! @GrandmaIna: i hope you’re doing well!!

  15. Catie Ronquillo

    Love this Mary! And you! Also, I love that your name has Equire after it. Fancy! :) And cheers to following your dreams and forging your own path. Cheers to 5 years and many more ahead!

  16. Stephanie

    Very inspiring–thank you for sharing your journey toward change!

  17. Kristin Nicole

    Totally identify with this. So happy you are doing what you love.

  18. Elizabeth

    I am like Dawn exact same emotions….this weekend I will be shooting for a friend it is her daughter’s bridal shower but I am excited to do it, and will hopefully help build my portfolio online…as the weekend is getting closer I am getting so darn nervous. I hope my dream will come true so I can be happy with my life choice. I did not even want to do what I currently do but someone talked me into and I am so burnt out after 22 years as an Office Administrator. I truly need a change.

  19. Roxie

    You have such a wonderful way with words. You – are truly inspiring. :)

  20. The Detailed Life

    Was writing something too long… all I need to write is THANKS, THANKS, THANKS for sharing.

  21. Nicole

    Thank you for writing this! I, too, graduated with a law degree and quickly felt it wasn’t the path I wanted to take. I’ve pursued other areas of interest (including photography!) and don’t regret it at all. But, it’s hard for people to understand why I’d give up a legal career. It’s nice to know that there are others out there who truly understand pursuing happiness.

  22. Ray

    Big applause to you, Mary! Bravo for you, for ditching the road often taken, to the road unpaved. You rock.

  23. Ray

    P.S. I LOVE Lucille Ball! =D

  24. Hillary

    I admire your courage.

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