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Confession From a Single Mom: Being Selfish Made My Dreams Come True

If you know me or have followed along with my adventures then you know that the past four years have been hard. Not ‘cutting corners’ or ‘changing jobs’ hard but ‘we ate plain rice for a week’ and ‘I didn’t have a job for almost a year – a COUPLE of times’ – hard. The struggles were real and scary and caused a burden on my family and friends that was never there before…and cast doubts on the future for my daughter in terms of her education.

I was living in Spain when I was laid off when the recession hit, and the country continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Being American, the logical step would have been to return to my homeland – where I had actually started my career with technology start-ups back in 1996 – to look for work there. Although that would have certainly and undeniably been the most practical solution to my problem, it just wasn’t the dream.

Looking back, being a Mom, probably I should have thought less about what would make me happy and more about what was practical. Yet as selfish as it may sound, from the moment I was divorced and a single mom, I consciously decided never to operate that way. My daughter is my greatest joy and I would do anything for her but I believed (and continue to believe) that I would be a much better Mom to my amazing daughter if I was HAPPY, and not in a job that was passionless or in a life that made me always wish for MORE. Most of the time we were really fortunate and had plenty of disposable income, we traveled around the globe on fun holidays together and had nice things. I even upgraded my daughter’s education when my salary finally hit the right number at the beginning of 2009. Then all of a sudden things changed and we didn’t have the money for any of it.

Working for start-ups and changing jobs a lot meant that my daughter and I had a lot more ‘ebbs and flows’ than we probably should have. Also, I never received any child support from my ex so I always paid 100% for our life (well, okay, there were three months in 2009 when he paid something but it didn’t even cover half our rent so I don’t really think that counts). I probably should have taken him to court to demand it…not for me (as a friend recently lectured me on) but for my daughter and HER quality of life.

So we moved from Spain to India after a year of fruitlessly searching for a job in Barcelona and there life offered up a literal whirlwind of diverse opportunities, including handling social media for Guns N’ Roses Live India Tour and having my own column in a national newspaper. None of the jobs paid worth a darn, not a single one. It’s true that we struggled so much there but in the end both my daughter and I acknowledge that what we gained from the teachings India gave to us were absolutely invaluable and irreplaceable lessons that have forever changed and shaped us.

From there, my daughter went to the UK to uni and my next move was to mainland China for a job that turned out to be a disaster and I lost thousands on the seven-week relocation but it gave me insight into the marketing and the social media landscape in China.

So why am I sharing this mix of sad and sort of depressing ‘bla bla bla’ with you?

Because all of those career moments that I embarked on, that I chose to take even when sometimes it meant we sacrificed our quality of life but not my hopes and dreams as a professional and as a woman, they all paid off. The choices I made 100% groomed me for a new role with a company headquartered in Hong Kong that has been doing amazing work for almost 35 years. I’ve lived and worked in America, Europe, India and East Asia…exactly the markets where the company I’m working with has offices! Turns out that the path I chose to take for the past 19 years (and that’s exactly how old my daughter is, coincidentally) was just the RIGHT one.

After four years, I’m in my dream city, doing exactly what I love to do, working alongside talented and friendly people…living a life that makes my heart sing.

It’s hard to do what your heart wants and not ‘what is right’ for many people. I lived in India long enough to know that. I’d like to think that my daughter forgives me for the struggles we faced because I was not always the most responsible parent. I know that she’s happy starting down her path, working towards her dream shot at a future working with NGOs like Doctors Without Borders. Now I just need to stay focused so we can pay for her education and cost of living at uni (like most everything else, that responsibility is ours 100% because my ex refuses to help pay for education).

Letting my heart lead me and allowing passion instead of logic to dictate my path went a long way in shaping my overall happiness in life. Imagine coming home from work every day fulfilled, with fun stories to share and tales of projects that really stimulate the senses. You would return home SO much happier than if you were stuck in an unfulfilling job or living the life that you (or your family) think you’re supposed to be leading. I realise that may seem very selfish to think this way but it’s the only recipe for happiness that I’ve ever known to be honest, and it’s servin’ me pretty darn well!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE on how my daughter felt about our move and our life.

XOXO Angela

© 2014, Angela Carson and All rights reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. ElizaMaree

    oh my goodness angela. congratulations. i felt i was reading my own story (placenames excepted). i saw this originally on linkedin. this is all so true, we must follow our joy, and it’s not always the easiest path. please keep writing, sharing and inspiring. and if there’s ever anything i can do to contribute, in any way, please contact me


  2. Gary P.

    Angela, I’m of a different mind here. I’m in the process of divorcing a woman who celebrates her selfishness as her pursuit of happiness. I have full custody of our youngest daughter because my wife’s pursuit of her own happiness was extremely damaging to the child. She doesn’t understand that as a parent, everything that you do is seen and modeled by your children. Therefore, using drugs, drinking and prioritizing your children 3rd or 4th in your life will be modeled. I’m glad things worked out for you and that you still have a good relationship with your daughter. However, in most instances that I’ve seen, the children aren’t as lucky and end up with significant problems later in life.

  3. Rosie Martinez

    I just read your article called “Confession From a Single Mom: Being Selfish Made My Dreams Come True.” I believe that there is nothing selfish about everything that you have done to arrive where you are today. Selfishness comes from the ego, but you have demonstrated self love, which comes from the heart. I don’t have children, but I observe that mothers label themselves as selfish when they are simply looking out for themselves and for their families. I admire you for all that you have done to be where you are today. You are phenomenal, and I wish you continued success!

  4. A. Madhavan

    Great post and very inspiring!

  5. anna

    angela i just want to congragulate on these please keep going with your inspiring words which is as sharp as sword

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