Do We End Up Exactly Where We Are Meant to Be?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we end up doing what we do. Do we set our own course in life, or does life set its course for us? Is there a larger calling for each of us, or do we just fall into doing something out of necessity? And is it possible that regardless of our plans or intentions, we end up exactly where we are meant to be?

At the end of third grade I was awarded a blue ribbon for a poem I wrote about emerging as a butterfly. While I can’t remember my words, I do remember feeling a surge of pride and accomplishment seeing it printed in my elementary school literary magazine. I decided in that very moment that I would one day become a writer. I knew at eight what I wanted “to be” when I grew up. I was certain of my path. I simply knew I was going to publish a book or become a poet or a journalist.

As I grew up I kept this focus and determination. I wrote poems, song lyrics, and stories. I joined my middle and then high school newspapers. I interned at every opportunity and worked tirelessly at my college newspaper – rising to editor-in-chief. I was going to be a writer. In between all of this writing, I worked with children to make an income. I was a nanny, a daycare assistant, a babysitter, a tutor, a substitute teacher and I took education classes in college because I enjoyed it so much. Working with children was always what came naturally to me. I loved being around kids and I understood I was good at this too. But, this wasn’t what I had chosen for myself. It’s not what my eight-year-old self declared she wanted “to be.” Also, my mother was a teacher and I wanted to set my own course. I didn’t want to do what she did. So, I pushed this out of my realm of possibility. I believed I was in charge of my own destiny.

After college I pursued my first professional job at a newspaper. I loved the energy of the newsroom. I enjoyed the late night deadlines and the freedom to hop in my car and drive to an interview. I was only writing about the local real estate market and my biggest story was about the new communities being built around the beltway, but I loved seeing something I wrote published. It was a tangible proof of my hard work. By this time I was already a mother. I took my son to a home-based daycare provider and I felt this immediate connection to her. I would pick up my son and sit and chat with her every day. I would play with the other kids in her care and looked at what she did with a sense of awe. I realized I missed working with kids.

I secretly played around with the idea of starting my own daycare at that time and even created a budget to see if it was feasible, but quickly brushed it off. That isn’t what I had worked so hard to do with my life. I had alternatives. I had goals. I was on the “right” course. I also didn’t have the best support system to start something like this.

After my second son was born, however, I had changed direction in my professional and personal life. I was remarried and no longer working for a newspaper. I was now working in the world of communications/public relations. I was still writing, but mostly for newsletters or news releases. I was still somewhat on course, but not happy.

So, I decided to make a change. I chose to stay home with my new baby and started my own home daycare — the very thing I had decided wasn’t the right course for me several years earlier. This time though I had the support of my husband, as well as the support of my new mother-in-law who had successfully run a home-based daycare and preschool for nearly 20 years. She became my mentor in the process of opening my new business.

When I think about the fact that I had considered opening a home daycare years before even meeting my husband or knowing my MIL, I can see with amazing clarity that I was placed along this path for a reason. That my journey and all the people in my life were placed there for a purpose. I didn’t choose this career, but sometimes it feels like it chose me.

We end up where we are meant to be - @TinystepsMommy

I take amazing pride in seeing the little ones in my care learn or discover something for the first time. I enjoy watching these babies grow and become more and more independent. But a few years ago, I started to feel like I had failed myself. My inner eight-year-old kept reminding me of that original plan and there were days I felt I had gotten too far off course. So, I simply opened my computer and started to write again. This is when I began Tiny Steps Mommy.  But, here is the amazing truth — without my experience and love of working with children, I never would have found my writing voice.

I now understand that I can do both. No one has to pick just one thing. You can surround yourself with many passions. For me, it’s working with children AND writing. I can grow both of these dreams and find personal accomplishment with both. I do not have to choose – not at eight or at 37. There is not always one path or course and sometimes the “right” one is merely a pathway to the next transformation.

I don’t believe it is a coincidence that my very first piece of writing was about emerging as a butterfly. We are all just butterflies in waiting. But, unlike the butterfly, I believe we can transform many times. You just have to be open to change and willing to take flight.




Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. I do agree that while we don’t always get there the way we planned, we do end up where we’re supposed to be. I really enjoyed reading about your journey to accepting both of your passions – writing & working with children. You’re such an inspiration! xo
    Carin Kilby Clark recently posted…How To Deal With Unwanted Parenting AdviceMy Profile

  2. I love this. I’ve changed my mind many times on what I wanted to “be” I won a writing award as a kid too! But, never thought of that as my passion until I became older. I love how sometimes inadvertently we end up doing something that fuels our original dreams in the first place. Great, thought provoking post!
    Meredith recently posted…If First Time Mom Me and Current Me Met.My Profile

  3. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and SAHM. I always liked writing, but never been considered it as a career until after I had been a teacher & a SAHM for several years. That’s when i started blogging and found my passion. Now, I am trying to figure out how to make my passion into some sort of career.
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted…Joy is . . . {#1Word Linkup}My Profile


  1. […] and accepting that this is part of life. I find it ironic that my very last post was about ending up where we are supposed to be, because today that isn’t giving me much comfort. Intellectually, I know that things happen […]