Inspirational Women 2017 – Mechel Neser nee Campbell – From VP to SAHM
Mechel and I met when we both worked for the same company. Perhaps that we both grew up in small towns is what drew us together. A business trip to Vienna, Austria changed our friendship forever. We went from colleagues to being friends. I believe she was my alter ego (we’ve now grown up) and I grounded her. For the last decade, we’ve shared each other’s low and highs. Attended each other’s weddings and experienced the welcoming home of our only children. We now live across the ocean from each other, but our friendship remains strong. I am sure that there are many individuals who come to similar crossroads to hers. Where you have to decide if you want to continue to pursue your corporate dreams or give that up, to become a Stay-At-Home-Parent or even follow the dream of becoming a writer for example.
The decision to give up my career and become a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) for me was very easy!!
My journey really began at the age of 24, when I embarked on what I thought back then, was the biggest adventure of my life. Little did I know…..this would only be the start of a global adventure.
I moved from my little-isolated hometown called Pinetown to Johannesburg, South Africa. Knowing only one friend in the City of Gold, I chased my dreams in this city.
I started my career as a legal secretary and began my climb up the corporate ladder into senior roles, with 12 African countries reporting into me. I was a successful independent, career-driven woman, with my own house, great friends, a social butterfly and had the world at my feet!
Having been blessed to hold positions where I was able to travel and see the world, I made friends across the globe and got to experience the vast amount of cultures each country has to offer. Majority of my travels around Africa were mostly alone and this taught me to open up to new experiences and absorb cultural diversity and personalities it came with. I met so many people and best of all, got to experience public speaking. Never will I forget my first public appearance and how nerve-wracking that was, but it was a testament of how much I had grown as an individual.
After I got married and had my child everything changed. The way that I viewed the world and life became different. Suddenly I was prioritizing my family and our daughter’s future. Top of mind was a nudge in the form of an opportunity, to make a move to another country.
My husband and I are best friends and we have a very strong bond. Both of us are very resilient and adventurous people, we saw our move as a big adventure to add to our memoirs. It is so important to have a strong marriage and to be on the same page when taking on a challenge like this. The main reason being that you will rely heavily on each other. Our deal was that my husband would take the lead on the move overseas and get us settled, my responsibility would be our toddler during this transition.
I’m not going to sugar-coat the change, it was not easy to transition from being in the corporate world to a housewife and SAHM. Washing floors and cleaning toilets (which is still something I turn my nose up to) have become my new norm. Initially, I was terrified to spend money and would always ask my husband first, but being the man he is, his response would always be “…this is ours, not mine liefie...”.
“Don’t follow your dreams, lead them!” – One Republic
A further challenge to leaving the corporate world I found was that of being in the space of a toddler 24/7. However, I embraced it and I have grown so much in this area. In a few months, I went from a level of little patience and tolerance towards my child to being “an expert“. In years to come can only be a positive attribute to myself and my gorgeous daughter.
Today, I don’t believe I would easily return to the corporate world. I certainly don’t miss the stress and demanding deadlines. The rat race was good but now I have a new responsibility, which gives me the opportunity to enjoy quality time with my daughter and appreciate life more!
We left home with 6 suitcases filled with clothes and baby toys, LOL! I miss all the small silly goodies I had (my husband would say hoarded) but at the same time finding all these new little goodies was exciting!
FINDING MY FEET
I will never forget the first time we went to buy groceries out here. I must have stood in the aisle just staring at the shelves of washing powder for at least 30 minutes. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the choice variety and not one familiar brand I was used to seeing on the shelves back home at Pick’nPay or Woolies. The shelf is the length of a 100ft driveway in the Hamptons! Finally, I gave in, swallowed my pride and asked someone in the aisle what they used. I received what I now know is a typical American response, and got a full history of every washing powder on the shelves. Compliments to the people in the USA, they are super helpful, love to engage and share stories and just generally good people! You can go anywhere and walk up to someone and converse, it’s amazing!
Becoming a SAHM has given me the opportunity to watch my little girl in awe as she grows and experiences all the new things life has to offer. As well as experience all her amazing milestones!! These are priceless moments I am sharing with her and time that no one ever gets back!! I now get to be the one that takes and shares all the new experiences in life with her. When she learns something new it’s because I taught her, that’s the most rewarding feeling ever for me!! Best of all I get to see the world through my child’s eyes. She is someone who is adventurous, eager to learn, doesn’t judge or hate and just loves life, every moment of every single day! It’s one of the most important lessons I have learnt through her, to live and love life! We love exploring our new city, albeit we explore all the toddler related venues, but they are such fun and I get to be a kid all over again. My husband loves it and I wonder sometimes who the kid is… !?
OLD & NEW FRIENDSHIPS
Leaving friends behind and having to make new friends, out of sight out of mind, right? Not entirely true, I believe that you know in your heart who the ones are true and will keep in touch and they do! Everyone moves on with their lives while you build a new one, just as they build on their own. It’s tough some days, I will be honest. You learn to adapt and open yourself up to new experiences and allow new people into your lives and before you know it that void begins to fill. By the way, Americans love South Africans, they admire us for some reason and love to engage and learn from us. This has instilled a sense of pride and being proudly South African within me!
On the lighter side of things, most of what you are used to will not feature in your new surroundings. It takes some adapting, for me especially from a sporting perspective! Being an F1(Formula 1) fan, I often say “on a good day driving, I think I am Michael Schumacher”. My new friends initially responded with a huh look or “Who?”. That was me finished!!! Perhaps a reference to Nascar and Ricky Bobby will help going forward.?!
Change, some people are averse to it and others see it as another adventure or an opportunity for growth. For the most part, it’s just taking a leap of faith. It’s about having confidence in yourself and embracing the change with a positive attitude. We can’t avoid change in our lives, it will always happen and the biggest favour you can do yourself is to learn to embrace it and live your life to the fullest.
Our journey has just begun, another chapter in our book of life!
We are very fortunate to be here and we will continue on this path to the next chapter.
Wherever it may take us as a family!
This post is shared in Mechel Neser’s own words.
Find her in the social world via Instagram.