Twenty years ago, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin woman fantasized of quitting her day job to pursue her dreams. When a friend told her to “fake it ‘til you make it,” Annie Lamberg-Wahl, 42, unfortunately mistook the catchphrase for practical advice, despite lacking all skills necessary to pursue her dream job as an interior decorator.
Now, after decades of not having successfully made it as anything, Lamberg-Whal faces the harsh realization that she’s ruined her entire life as she knows it.
“My friend Carlos who’s in AA used to say it all the time,” said Lambert-Wahl. “At the time, I just kept thinking, ‘If that advice can pull someone out of an alcoholic rock bottom, then I should be able to apply it to my budding interior design career,’ but now I’m not so sure.”
“Plus, Carlos is totally drinking again, so I’m kind of freaking out, for real,” she added.
Having always been “super interested” in interior design, Lambert-Wahl quit her full-time job as a retail sales associate at a Kohl’s department store 18 years ago in order to pursue her dream of working as a self-employed decorator. Unaware at the time of the qualifications necessary to assume such a position, she is currently left more than a little nervous at, what appears in hindsight, to have been an impulsive decision.
“My friends and family are always telling me I’m a genius at throw pillows, and I get tons of repins on Pinterest. It’s just a natural talent,” she said. “I thought employers would get a sense of my passion for design, but apparently some people actually go to college and get degrees for that kind of thing, so that really sucks for me,” she said.
After 11 years of not making it, Lambert-Wahl bought a copy of the self-help bestseller The Secret. “I read most of it and put so many positive thoughts out there, but even that didn’t help.”
Determined not to give up on her passion, Lambert-Wahl has resolved to continue making a name for herself in the competitive interior design community. “At this point, I kind of don’t really have a choice,” she said.
Possessing no real, marketable skills, and entirely unwilling to return to school, Lambert-Wahl has found herself wondering what might have been. “If I could do it all again, I probably would have just stayed at Kohl’s. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be facing $121,000 of personal debt right now. Since I originally thought I’d make it back in no time, I didn’t really pay attention to the interest rate, which is apparently a super shitty one,” she lamented.
Determined to focus on the positive, Lambert-Wahl offered some advice of her own for anyone thinking about pursuing a career in which they may not be technically qualified. “I would try re-wording the phrase, maybe something like ‘Fake it, but maybe think about getting your real estate license to fall back on, ‘til you make it.’”