I was always the kid who had too much makeup for a girl her age. Girlfriends would come over to my house and play in my collection the same way I had played in my Mom’s makeup drawer when I was younger, and it made me happy. Despite that love for beauty, I never really anticipated working in the industry.

All of that changed when it came time to graduate from college. Makeup had remained a personal hobby and passion, and as I saw the end quickly approaching, I had to make some tough decisions regarding what path I would take. This was complicated even further by the fact that I was graduating from Georgia Tech, one of the top engineering institutes in the world; by no stretch of the imagination was being a “makeup artist” a common pursuit.

It took me the better part of a year to become comfortable referring to myself as a makeup artist when people asked me about what I did for work. I always buffered it with something like “I’m getting my real estate license, and I also do makeup…” This was partially because I wasn’t 100% confident in my skills, and partially because I still wasn’t confident enough in myself to withstand the Judgey Judys and Jims of the world who would respond with a weird look and a snide “oh…cool…”

My first photoshoot as a makeup artist was an unpaid, eight-hour gig that I totally bluffed and blustered my way through. I felt so accomplished afterward, and even though I look back and cringe at how much room for improvement I had, I am so proud of taking that first intimidating leap. From there, things took off.

As my skills improved and my client resume grew, I developed the courage to own my chosen career, and proudly opened Biggers Beauty up full throttle. It was a whirlwind of meeting some of the most incredible people (and the worst), long weekend and evening gigs (and every hour inbetween), and trying to stay encouraged in a network that is far smaller and more nepotistic than I ever could have imagined. I said yes to everything and everyone – no matter the pay or time it would take – in hopes of opening another door or meeting an important face that could open it for me. My friends began to wonder if I had dropped off the face of the earth entirely.

At the end of that year, I became a certified Lash Stylist. It was predictable work, brought in good money, and I really enjoyed playing bestie/therapist to the 100+ clients that laid down on my table for lash extensions. All in all, I was thrilled with where I’d ended up by the end of 2015, but ready for something more.

Around that same time I finally discovered the gap in the beauty industry that I’d been looking for; the one that I could take a foothold in and make into my own gear in the industry, rather than remaining a cog in someone else’s. It was time to develop my own cosmetic line that was non-toxic, had an incredible shade range, and performed to my professional standards with bold colors and rich textures. It took me months just to ideate and brainstorm, but eventually I had a clear vision.

That brings me to the present. I’ve spent the last six months in market research and preliminary development for my cosmetic line, Clove + Hallow. It is already quite obvious to me that this is where I belong — at the intersection of my love for makeup, an incredible marketing endeavor, and the ability to use the technical, analytical, and leadership skills I learned at Tech.

For the past two years in the service industry, I’ve given a thousand “yes”s, no matter how miserable it made me. Unless I was sick or had an emergency, I would say yes. Yesterday, I finally said no.

Developing a cosmetic line requires structure and a consistent schedule, which is the opposite of how my life had been functioning (to be clear, I *loved* the flexibility and randomness that being a makeup artist entailed…but not anymore.) So, I spent the last three months in a weird transition stage where half the time I had a structured plan and schedule for my cosmetic line, and half the time I was running around last minute to accommodate my lash and makeup clients, being totally inefficient at everything all the time.

I woke up yesterday morning with that familiar pit of panic and anxiety in my stomach. It was hard to breathe, I felt weak and shaky, and I didn’t have the energy to even make it out of bed before I texted my Mom to say that something had to give. If you’re a “yes” person like myself, then you understand; I had spread myself too thin, and it broke me. I had to prioritize and put my goals first, no matter how much it sucked.

So I said no.

I emailed my beautiful, *incredible* clients and partners to tell them that since Clove + Hallow is my #1 priority now, I could no longer keep up with the demands of my makeup artistry and lash businesses. As much as it hurt (and I mean physically hurt…I was nauseous all day because I was so distressed about “quitting”), it was necessary.

But it isn’t quitting. Re-evaluating is critical to staying on a path relevant to your goals, and learning to say “no” — and, yes, even knowing when to “quit” — are key elements of success. Do I still feel bad? Yes. Are my clients a little bummed and inconvenienced? Yes. But life goes on and people understand, and if they can’t or won’t, then they’re not the supportive folks that I want to keep around anyway.

If you made it this far, thank you for indulging my narcissistic tendency to think people actually give a damn about what’s happening to me. More importantly, if you made it this far, I implore you to think about what it is in your life that you need to quit, give up, or say no to…conversely, it may help you to think first about what things you need to begin doing and say yes to.

It is human nature to minimize conflict. Believe me, I get it. But often the things we’re avoiding are things with the biggest payoff. Say yes, say no, say whatever the hell you want — just say what is in your best interest, and not just the most convenient.*

*disclaimer: just don’t be a dick about it.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a quick trip down memory lane of some incredible moments I’ve had during the last couple years, including being published in consumer magazines THREE times — twice by Modern Luxury Brides, once by Shop Smart Consumer Reports — and in editorial magazines over a dozen times.