Eve After Eden: Balancing Act
In the two day interview for Eve After Eden, Erica Franklin revealed a side of herself reserved for the respectfully curious.
We met to discuss her transition from journalism to technology sales. Who she has become today is the direct result of who she had to acknowledge, thank, and then leave in the past.
Franklin’s process has been more introspective than externally forced but she had not seen it this way when she was a 20-something college graduate. Initially, Franklin thought she had to prove herself to others. She entered the workforce prepared for just that: Proving herself to any and everyone.
“I was used to being on guard and defensive,” said Franklin.
She began her career as a news reporter intern for the Winston-Salem Journal while completing her undergraduate degree at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
After graduating in 2006, she explored public relations, marketing, and advertising roles before landing a position in education technology in 2011. A few years later, she began a career defining job that pushed her out of her comfort zone and into technology sales. Franklin had a knack for maturing client relationships in the field and she liked working at the intersection of technology and education.
In her new role, Franklin was an account manager responsible for renewing current contracts, upselling existing business and adding to the company’s bottom line.
While her career was flourishing, Franklin continued her self-care practices of exercise and travel. Any stress or tension she felt from a long work day was whisked away by an eight count to Soca in a Downtown DC exercise studio. Any lingering thoughts of what could have been or should have been were wiped away as soon as her plane took off to South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, or any place in between.
She had her career for income, exercise for improved health and her travels for greater perspective. The combination worked well until Franklin realized she was burnt out and unhappy.
The world traveler and philanthropist was a nurturer at heart. Maintaining relationships came easy to her. She naturally looked out for her clients’ best interests, not just the value of a new sale.
The shift in her professional joy and feeling stagnant cause Franklin to tap into her coping mechanisms. She started to over schedule herself with networking events. She began experiencing bouts of anxiety and genuinely felt off balance even with her guards up and her defenses firmly in place. This was not how her career was supposed to go. Franklin went on a quiet mission to figure out what was throwing her off.
She confided in close friends for perspective, sought therapy to understand why she was always on guard and defensive, and explored her own thought processes through occasionally journaling.
“I realized with the anxiety, that I was feeling very complacent. I wasn’t going anywhere. Even though it looked like I was always going somewhere and doing something and growing. I felt very complacent in 2019 and I felt like I couldn’t get out of it,” explained Franklin.
That same year, Franklin quit her job. The anxiety caused by her work became overwhelming. She thought she had been managing well but her friend circle voiced concerns. Franklin was not the same woman she had been and the changes they were seeing were not good.
“My manager was fantastic, still is fantastic. I had very strong people in my corner but I was putting myself in a predicament by staying in a role and not doing things to help [myself] grow in the time and space that I needed. So, I needed to just quit everything. [That job] was not giving me the space that I needed to think.”
Franklin continued her self-care practices during her down time. She made time to rest. She even made time to brainstorm about what she wanted to do next. When she was in a better place, she began applying for new jobs.
It would be more than a year before she was hired.
Franklin was humbled by rejections for jobs she was overqualified for, qualified for, and a few for which she was under qualified.
“It taught me about myself. One, that I’ve always found a way,” said Franklin. “It taught me how to rebuild myself professionally. I was so focused on growing personally that I wasn’t even thinking about growing professionally and how work was impacting me.”
She built confidence in her professional life through intentional networking, working with a career coach, and the countless applications she submitted. Franklin gave voice to her career success and owned it in interviews. When she began to believe her own success story, she spoke to it with more confidence and questioned companies on their qualifications for having her as an employee.
“When you’re in spaces and you have awareness of where [your guardedness and defensiveness] stem from, you can address that,” said Franklin. “I realized that all of these things [on my personal and professional sides of life] tie together. And, if I don’t address something on this side, it’s going to address me on that side. I have to acknowledge these things.”
Now, after completing one of the best year’s of her career, Franklin is back to being her busy self. This time it is with intention. Everything she shares her time and energy with, aligns with who she is at her core.
Franklin’s also left her coping mechanisms behind. Rather than waste time ignoring a problem, she faces it head on.
“I’m okay with being confrontational when it comes to my own personal happiness,” she said. “Confrontation doesn’t always mean ‘bad’. Confrontation means that you’re confronting something that’s an issue. If you don’t have a voice then you’re allowing these things to happen in your space, in your life, to you. You have to ask, ‘Why are you allowing these things to happen to yourself?”
Nothing just happens in Franklin’s life anymore. Her personal and professional lives align. She is the same in the office as she is on travel, sans a fete or two. And, she’s loving the life she created for herself.