"My name is Jacqueline Martinez. I am from Indiana, and I will be sharing my story about leadership."
What is your story?
"I grew up the oldest of three, and early on in my life responsibility was given to me on many levels - emotional responsibility, mental care, and tangible day-to-day responsibility of helping raise the herd.
Early on in life, my parents were divorced, and my mom was remarried. I did a lot of moving around - we moved eight times in eight years before the age of eight.
I also learned early on that hard work and achievement gave me in return what I really wanted in life - to expand myself in life, to be seen as worthy, and to be loved. So, I studied, got good grades, and involved myself in any extracurricular activities, where I usually took some sort of leadership role. Even though I was surrounded by people, I always felt separate, disconnected, and not fully seen or supported by the people in my life. This left me with a gnawing sense of emptiness that I just couldn’t put my finger on. The support and connection I sought was something I thought I needed before I could accomplish my big dreams and live to my potential.
As a young woman I had big, out of the box dreams for myself. I wanted to grow up and change the world through my hard work, creativity and enthusiasm. I didn’t know what it looked like (it took many different forms), I just knew it was possible and that it could happen. My first job I actually created for myself. I had the desire to start a traveling teaching business for kids. My first entrepreneurial venture left me excited, buzzing, and so proud of how I had served and what I had done. But the people around me, who I thought were in my corner, didn’t seem to notice how big of an impact it made, and the support for future ventures wasn’t there.
The cycle of big dreams - big actions - lack of connection and support kept happening in my life. I found myself married and then divorced. In single motherhood. Difficult relationships. Job searching. Day dreaming of what life could be. Until finally I realized something very profound.
I had to go first.
I had been leading myself through this amazing journey as a pioneer desperately waiting for others to SEE me, GET my passion, and support me as fully and deeply as I would support them. But that’s not how it works (for me, at least). I suddenly realized that I had to see myself first and support myself before anyone else could. I had to stop being a victim of my relational circumstances. I had to stop thinking “if only others supported me, I could make magic happen”. No, I had to lead myself through my life in this way.
So I did.
On one very non-glamorous afternoon, I decided it was time to radically own my life and support my dreams. And as I started truly believing in myself, my wildest dreams started coming true.
But it wasn’t until the grief and desperation of feeling alone on my path as a pioneer did I realize that this was not how my story would keep telling itself for the rest of my life."
In one word, how would you describe/define your experience?
"Determined. Through my story, I found myself in situations where I could have easily thrown up my hands and stopped, saying it was too hard. But I kept reaching for what I knew was possible."
What would you compare your experience to? And/or what analogy would define your experience?
"A pioneer forging their way through uncharted territory."
What advice would you give yourself or someone else experiencing something similar?
"Write a letter to yourself on your best day, telling yourself why you’re so proud of the things you’re doing and the challenges you’re facing. Pull it out on your down days and read it as many times as it takes to decide to get back to forging your path."
Hear the song "Your Own Trail" inspired by Jacqueline's story: Available Everywhere 10.15.21