Tiffany’s Take: I Love Office Supplies

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Image by CO-PhotoGuy via Flickr Creative Commons

By Tiffany A. Potter 

I always have.

And not just “I don’t mind that I have to go to Office Depot today,” but the “I need to find a reason to go to Office Depot today” kind of love. Since as early as I can remember. The exciting part of every new school year was going to pick out all of my school supplies for the upcoming year as soon as I received the list from my teacher of what I would need. It was tradition, and it was magical. Pens, pencil cases, highlighters, binders and notebooks, sheer bliss. The supplies represented all of the exciting experiences that were to come: a symbol of freedom to create, and learn, and explore and grow. They also meant that a part of my life was already speaking to me; I just didn’t know it yet.

Clearly, I was meant to own my own business.

From my earliest childhood memories, I can remember watching people in my world go to work, come home, eat dinner, spend a few hours with their loved ones, go to bed, do it all over again the next day, and live for the weekend. Also, from my earliest childhood memories, in my old-soul way of thinking, I was searching for the answer to the question “is that all there is to life?” It never set right with me. It is a beautiful way of living if it fills you up, but at my core, I knew that that lifestyle would never fulfill me because my life was calling me to a different, less conventional, path. I also knew, innately, in some capacity, I was meant to be on a stage.

Whether it was singing in the school choir, performing in community theater, or public speaking whenever asked to (and I was asked to a lot), being in front of an audience was something I was good at. I felt free, I felt alive in a way that didn’t show itself anywhere else, I felt whole, and my heart felt full as it responded to the energy that came to me naturally with each experience. The challenge was that I didn’t know how performing would translate to a career unless I was as an actress; it had been my only example of people doing what I loved to do so I assumed that was where I was going.

Community theater and, for a time, while living down south and having an agent in Los Angeles were the only outlets I had in front of me. But I struggled because I was so much better in front of an audience as myself than I ever was as a character. Odd jobs and a few 9-5’s (which I loathed like nobody’s business) paid the bills (barely), but whenever I was asked to speak to an audience, to tell the story of my life and inject lessons I had learned, I lit up and found myself wholly in my being. Which meant that I felt lost more often than not, wandering and disconnected to my soul as I went from one audition to another; all while fielding questions and judgment from some of those around me.

I felt that some of my inner circle wondered if I would ever get serious about my future, lobbing opinions about my lack of direction and the apparent lack of any desire on my end to grow up and become a “real adult.” True that I had no idea at the time that there would ever be any other way to respond to my calling of performing while earning money other than acting, but I had committed to my journey. Then one day it hit me, it was through what came naturally for me and the many requests to do it, that the idea for my company was born.

Now, not only do I spend my life in front of audiences teaching compassion while sharing my life’s experiences and being paid handsomely to do so, but I also have a reason to go to Office Depot at least once a week (I could probably consolidate shopping trips but, really, why would I when I enjoy it so much).

Make no mistake, I am immensely appreciative and grateful for every single experience (successful or not) that I have gone through for they taught me how to create and run my own business. Every odd job and 9-5 that I tried desperately to conform to all taught me how to commit to decisions and choices, how to own my successes and failures, and how to believe in something so deeply that you’re willing to walk through fire for it.

The term passion comes from the Latin root pati, which means “to suffer, endure” and believe me when I say that I have spent years devoted to, suffering for and working toward a dream that caused me great emotional pain at times. My first year was tumultuous, full of high-highs and low-lows; experiencing depression at times when my phone wasn’t ringing and giving too many people in my life the power to affect me with their support or lack of, but I knew in the deepest parts of my soul that I would never, could never, give up on my dreams. Owning your own business is climbing that proverbial mountain. However, what no one tells you in the beginning is that the peak that you were so anxious to get to reveals itself as merely a base camp to the mountain you couldn’t see behind the first one. But, the climb is definitely worth it. Trust me.

Life lesson: Your life has been speaking to you. There have been patterns and recurring themes that have been screaming your name in hopes that you’ll listen. Those themes, those experiences in your life that have spoken to you, have piqued your interest in hopes that you’ll sit up and take notice. They are your soul speaking to you loudly. They are the very reason why you feel most like yourself. I understand that you may not find a way to be paid for what you love to do, and that’s okay. Just begin. Volunteer. Offer up yourself and your experiences. This world needs you; you are not here to merely exist and understand that no experience is wasted. Rumi says, “What you seek is seeking you.” So what has filled you up and made you feel most alive? Sssshhhhhh. Listen. It’s okay. I give you permission.

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Tiffany is an entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and change agent. Find her at www. TiffanysTake.com and contact her at contact. tiffanystake@gmail.com. 

  • Janet Capella

    Tiffany, I have read your heartfelt column in Community Alliance, your voice is strong and so needed in Fresno. I am a grandma, artist @ Chris Sorensen’s, teacher and community activist. I have not spoken to Ernesto, CA editor about articles, however have been encouraged to connect with you by Patty Bennett and Jean Hayes about UPC/artist collaborations and your focus on ADA. Today, I am meeting with Dylan, my fellow Sorensen’s artist & UCP instructor and your friend Kim, who steers media at UCP. I have long been affiliated with folks at Community Alliance, through action and articles. I would like to meet you to plan focus and timing of the story of how UCP client/artists have place for art at our Warehouse gallery/ studios. cmsartstudio.com website Sorensens, my phone is 559 974-5541, on Facebook Janet Planet and janetplanet83@gmail.com Hope to meet up with you soon. Janet