Just over a year ago, Vagabond Heels was born. Since that time, I’ve battled depression, survived an abusive relationship, traveled through Asia, visited a Balinese spiritual healer and studied start-up entrepreneurship at the first creative incubator in North America.

I’ve seen a lot. Done a lot. Fucked up a lot. And learned A LOT.

Tomorrow is my Demo Day. I finally get to present Vagabond Heels as a brand to potential investors, clients, and the media. My self-starter blog now has business cards, marketing materials, and interns. In other words, she’s all grown up and graduated.

But like any graduate, she had to pass a final exam.

A few months ago, I was on top of my game. For the first time in a LOOOOONG time, I was happily single, had a regular gym routine, had fabulous grades and with just a few months left until Demo Day, I was poised for greatness. Things could not go wrong; in fact, they had never been better.

You can pretty much guess what happened next.

I met someone and fell madly, crazy, can’t-live-without-eachother omg omg omg super in love.

He looked like Nick Carter with the eyes of Jack Dawson  – and he chose me.  He celebrated my success. He loved that I was a blogger. He was inspired by me and supportive of my career.

We were smitten.

“You’re my soul mate,” he would say.

“You are a blessing in my life.”

“You are the woman I’ve been waiting for.”

“I love you.”

Oh baby. Was I ever in trouble.

Suddenly, the success track I was so excited about seemed less exciting than lengthy morning cuddles, endless conversations, and giggle fests.

Of course, this unexpected Romeo soon revealed himself to be a project of epic and colossal proportions. Disorganized as all hell. Hung up on his ex-wife. Looking for a rebound, but he found me and I can’t be a rebound and can he really be in this relationship but it sucks cause he loves me so much and can we just not deal with this right now. I was a distraction from the unbearable pain of his messed up, post-divorced life. He was a distraction away from my goals.

And the thing is – he didn’t ask me to fix any of his problems. I gave my time, energy and love willingly. In fact, he would often tell me NOT to worry about his problems. He even went so far to tell me that despite loving me, I clearly deserved more. I was too good for him. He was a f*ck up that couldn’t make me happy. I was perfect, and smart and amazing and special and I’d probably do best to simply delete and block him from my life.

But I just pushed harder. He was the priority. I mean, I was obviously super emotionally healthy, so I could totally help him through this!

And then I realized I had stopped writing. I stopped taking care of myself like I had been. I was becoming as disorganized as he was – if not more. I was emotionally unbalanced.

Demo Day was coming up. Was it a coincidence I chose to invest in this person during the last mile of my journey?

Like many others before me, right before the last mile of a big project, I always feel emotionally balanced. Excited. I start to see the fruits of my labour. The end is in clear sight!

So why do we allow ourselves to be distracted to such epic proportions before the damn finish line?

Because winning at something bears an even greater responsibility than merely trying.

If I failed – ah, well. I tried, you guys! I can always try again. In the meantime, as I try, I have the freedom to keep fucking up and not try hard enough to actually win. It’s a lot more fun down here with folks who don’t give life their all. Lots more canoodling with cute guys, lots more partying, lots more bitching and judging and lots more avoidance of serious stuff. Tons of people to keep me company here – we can all laugh at how we overslept again, slept with the wrong person again or got too drunk again.

But if I succeeded –  I had a responsibility to live up to that title of success. I would have to be accountable to it. Entrepreneur Steph couldn’t dabble in toxic relationships with charming boys anymore. Entrepreneur Steph had to wake up earlier and say no to temptations and distractions. And as a personal development coach, I had the ultimate responsibility of having my own life together first. 

It’s a lot of pressure. But in the end, I chose success.

After an achingly and nearly impossibly long drawn out goodbye, I took my man’s advice and deleted and blocked his number. I wiped my tears away and got back to work. I recognized the relationship for what it was: a shiny beer cap catching light in the sand, three feet away from buried gold.

Now the finish line is in clear sight, and I know he’s waving goodbye to me somewhere from a crowd of past lovers on the sidelines. I passed the final blonde, blue-eyed exam, and I’m not looking back. My eye is on the finish line, and I’m coming for gold.

I want to dedicate this post to my friends, mentors and support group at iC Mtl for believing in me all through the race towards Demo Day. A special thank you to Rocco and Nathalie for always being my voice of reason when I need it the most.

“The race is long, but in the end, it’s only with yourself.”  – Mary Schmich