From Riding the Bus to Running Two Businesses

By Kim Strobel

September 30, 2017

Embracing Fear, Overcoming Challenges, and Going for Your Dreams

A few weeks ago, I saw the #16 school bus pull around the corner, and I immediately had a flashback. For two years beginning in 2000, I rode that bus as a helper, tending to and keeping watch over the kids. It wasn’t the most glamorous job, and the pay was minimal. But it helped me get to where I am today, all the same.

See, I tried going to college right out of high school, but because of a panic disorder, I was unable to continue with my classes and moved back home after just a year. I felt like a loser. I felt ashamed.

I started working at the local prosecutor’s office as a secretary. But I was struggling, in so much darkness, and weighed down by the fear that I’d never accomplish my dream of getting my degree and becoming a teacher.

Every day I went to my job as a secretary, and every day I felt a little more lost from myself. It wasn’t the job. It was just that my heart and mind were screaming at me to GET THAT DEGREE! Instead, I worked at a job that didn’t align with how I wanted to serve the world.

I was pissed off, too! I felt like an adult trapped in a two-year-old’s body. Everything was hard for me. Going to Walmart was tough for me. Driving five minutes to my job was a challenge. Just walking around my block was an ordeal. All because I had a panic disorder.

It made me question myself. Why wasn’t I a strong enough person to do what so many others could? What my soul longed to do?

But one thing I never lost was my dream. So, I began therapy and, little by little, started learning how to control my panic disorder—never forgetting my goal of one day reentering college.

In 1996, that’s exactly what I did—with a basketful of nerves!

I’d been married a year and was working full-time when I decided to jump back into school (also full-time). I knew I’d have to continue working my full-time job because we needed the income. Thankfully, I had a boss who understood and even valued that I wanted to return to college. So, we worked out a deal: I would start work at 4:30 a.m., then leave the office around noon to get to my classes at the University of Southern Indiana. I’d drag myself home around midnight and start all over the next day. I did this three days a week for three long years.

There were times I thought I would lose my freakin’ mind! The days were long, the work (school and job) was all-encompassing. I was overworked and exhausted. But the long hours and hard work paid off:

In 2000, I got that degree!

Unfortunately, there were very few teaching jobs available at this time. So, I went to work as a program assistant for $8.00/hour. Here I had just worked my ass off for three years straight, had a college degree, and was making just eight bucks an hour. Argh!

Plus, I was newly divorced with a two-month-old baby, and my meager pay just wasn’t quite enough to make ends meet. That’s where good old Bus #16 came in.

For one hour in the morning and another hour in the evening, I rode that bus. It added an extra $80 to my weekly paycheck—and made all the difference in the world to a struggling single mom.

When I saw that same bus roll around the corner, it made me truly realize just how far I’ve come. It made me pause to honor my struggles and my ability to push through them. Because with a healthy dose of courage and determination, I’ve realized so many of my dreams! I’ve been a teacher, a literacy coordinator, and a curriculum director. And now I’ve launched not one, but TWO businesses.

None of it has been easy. But it has ALL been worth it!

Because I’m a dream chaser. I refuse to lose hope. I see obstacles and try my best to leap over them (even though I might be filled with fear). Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But I always TRY.

Someone once asked me where I find the courage to take such big steps in my business. My answer? When you’ve known fear as intimately as I do, you also know how to walk through it.

P.S. Curious about that second business I mentioned? It’s Strobel Education. If you’re a teacher, or involved in the education field in any way, check it out!

Question: Are you letting fear hold you back from something you really want? What is it? And what steps do you think you need to take to accomplish it? Share your fears and/or a story below in the comments.


  • I’ve been involved with developing a literacy plan for our school and the process has created a passion for literacy that has reinvigorated my work in the classroom. As a result, I’ve also become VERY interested in pursuing an advanced degree in curriculum development or literacy coordination so I can share this passion with others in their classrooms. Three young kids and a very busy schedule; however, make me feel nervous/anxious at just the thought of adding more to my plate.

    • Oh yes, I understand that fine line between pursuing my career passions and also being the mother that I want to be to my children. This is definitely something for you to sit with and pay attention to what your heart tells you is the direction to go. How fun to discover a new passion you have!

  • I’m so very proud of you, Kim. You continue to be my inspiration, be it from afar most of the time. Thanks for sharing these personal tidbits.

  • Dear Kim

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your inspiring stories! You remind me that all things are possible if we just keep our faith and plug on through.

  • I like what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and exposure! Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll. befeacdebgkgbabb

  • I have been teaching in Honolulu for 2 years. My daughter and grandson have been with me. My grandson is starting K this fall and is advanced for his age. I want him to continue to be challenged and enthusiastic about learning. He was chosen from a lottery my daughter entered him in, to be enrolled in a public charter school in Portland. We have to show proof of residency by today in order to keep his spot. I have been applying for teaching jobs in the area but I have not secured a teaching position in Portland, YET. I still have 8 applications out and 1 interview that I have not heard back from. I see 2 options: Stay in Honolulu where I have a job or take a LEAP of faith and move to Portland, then secure a job. I have a lease in Portland that should be ready to sign today for proof of residency. Would I be positive and brave to make this move or foolish? Also, I am ready to be back closer to family!

  • Kim, I want to be a singer, photographer, and artist—like designing floral fabric and sell or rent out dresses I make from vintage lace tablecloths.
    Oh—and market and sell a pain cream blend that doesn’t have the “Bengay” smell that I came up with.
    I just hate business stuff. I have ideas. I have visions. I take good/neat/cool photos. I just don’t like business-not good at it-hate it.

    • Yes, I understand, but here’s what you have to decide. Can you do the hard stuff so you can be working in your passion. I don’t like selling, marketing, or any of that, but in order to get my message into the world, I have had to learn how to do it and do it! Follow your passions, girl!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Never Miss A Blog Update!