Working in the waiting room

A story of resiliency by guest contributor Jenny Campbell

Photo by Ian Kiragu on Unsplash

by Guest Contributor - Jenny Campbell

There’s a reggae song from 1990 named Life by Frighty and Colonel Mite. The song is really about a man not wanting a deadbeat love. But, the refrain is:


Life is what you make it.

So darling, my dear.

Try and make it.

I know that you will.

We all have a past; some of us, worse than others. I know there are things that we’ve endured that we wish to forget. But, what I’ve learned is that those things, left unhealed, will be the backdrop of your entire life. Healing is the honey to that horrible cup of medicinal tea, or a shot of Buckley’s in the midst of a terrible cold. I’ve had my share of heartaches. But, I know that my healing has been God’s saving grace for my life’s journey.

I started working at the age of 14. My first job was with M.H. Lamston’s – a one-stop shopping store similar to Woolworth’s. I worked there part-time afterschool for two years, then continued after graduation. Unbeknownst to me, I was required to give my mother every dime. I couldn’t buy myself anything – until I got hip to the game. I started buying my personal items from the store before payday; they would then deduct it from your weekly pay.

My next job was a full-time job as a cold caller for Drexel Burnham Lambert. I had to get a full-time job with benefits to take care of my baby. Yes, I had just turned 18 – just started my first semester of college, living at home with my mom, and pregnant. I was wise enough to know that if I was ever to have the chance of getting to the other side of this bump in the road I would have to work harder and smarter. I stayed at Drexel for two years, until they were bought out by another brokerage firm who decided to change the entire benefits package for those of us who were staying with the company. My search for job security was on.

I secured a position with a magazine publishing company – better benefits, more money, opportunity for career growth, and a great boss. I stayed with that company for almost twenty years until I was laid off as soon as I returned from maternity leave with my last of four daughters. I took my severance package and opened a restaurant! Yes. I cashed out my 401k and took a chance on entrepreneurship, doing what I love – Cooking. I didn’t know the first thing about running a business. Nor did I have the right people around me. I ended up spending every dime of my 401k, remodeled a small counter top eatery, met and fed a lot of nice people, only to shutdown the restaurant in one year. I realized I loved my family more than I loved cooking. I lost tens of thousands of my savings in that venture.

It took me a few months to secure another corporate position with a major bank. I stayed with the bank for several years, until an unfavorable interaction with my boss had me throw my hands up and quit. The destruction of my marriage wasn’t far behind. I was making a high 5-digit salary at the time. It felt like I was losing everything – including my mind. It would be several months before I secured another full-time position.

I secured a position with a well-known non-profit; at which time I lost my mother. I have since held positions as a substitute teacher, higher ed development manager, teacher, and am currently unemployed. I don’t think I have stayed at any position longer than the years I worked in magazine publishing. My curriculum vitae (CV) attempts to summarize all of the work experience and skills I acquired in my years in my many jobs. But, what is missing is my resilience, my valuable intellectual property. It doesn’t show the time and encouragement I’ve fed into others to secure their dreams. It doesn’t display my ability to remain calm in the face of adversity. It doesn’t display my leadership style – my ability to build up future leaders. It doesn’t display what I’ve developed and implemented between jobs. It doesn’t show what I did/do in the ‘waiting room’.

I am a walking business. I have since learned a lot about building a business. But, more importantly, I’ve healed from my past pain, learned lifelong lessons that I continue to use to build my three businesses. I continue to encourage and lead others to their greatness. I understand James 2:14-26 – faith without works is dead. I have relinquished all fear of failure a long time ago. I can’t fail – I just learn. I am running two businesses, simultaneously, Retention Strategies Unltd. and Moments in Travel, and working on becoming a Loan Signing Agent.

I’ve always worked in the Waiting Room. I don’t know what God has in store for me. But, I know He will never forsake me. We are working hard at holding on to our home. So much so, that it would actually be better if I had a full-time position with a regular salary. However, the opportunity hasn’t materialized yet. In the meantime, I will continue to build my businesses – because they’re mine.

I don’t have all the answers. But, I do know you owe it to yourself to toil and sacrifice for you. There’s an old adage - If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. My journey has had many losses – financially, especially. However, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything. I focus on what I have. I focus on the intelligence I have and the greatness that is to come. I’m not wealthy; sometimes I don’t even know where my next $20 will come from. But, I know better is to come. I know money in abundance will come – and I will never have to worry about a bill or mortgage, ever again. Life is always what you make it. So, try and make it. I know that you will.



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