I cried at the mall today (outside of a JCPenney, no less!) Yep. I stood there with a bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding in one hand and a Great American Cookie (chocolate chip) in the other, absolutely sobbing because it was raining too hard for me to get to my car without drowning mid-step.
Okay, so it was raining, but that’s not really why I was crying.
In January, I quit my great, comfortable, full-time job to start working for myself. I wasn’t 100% sure what that would look like for me, but I knew I wanted to build something of my own. In the four months since I quit, I’ve managed to cobble together a little boutique marketing and content creation agency called Content Is Queen that I absolutely adore. I adore my clients who will never know how much they’ve helped me change my life. I adore the writers who work with me and lend their time and their talents to help me grow my business. I adore the freedom I have to work on whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.
There is a flip side to this newfound freedom. It’s the side that everyone warned me about, the truth that I knew would eventually find and catch up to me: I am now 100% responsible for my success or my failure. I am my own boss, yes, and it’s amazing. But I am also my own CFO. I am my own HR Manager. I am my own Investor. I am my own Account Manager. I am my own Director of Business Strategy. I am now 100% responsible for my success and my failure and it’s really, really hard and lonely.
It’s hard and it’s lonely to not have someone telling me what my goals should be. It’s hard and it’s lonely to build and manage client relationships as a shy introvert who struggles with public speaking. It’s hard and it’s lonely to figure out taxes for a small business (please don’t throw me in jail, The IRS! I promise I’m trying!). It’s hard and it’s lonely to work from a home office, no matter how cute my new puppy is. It’s hard and it’s lonely to not have someone telling me whether or not I’m on the right path.
It’s hard and it’s lonely trying to be my own champion all day, every day.
It’s hard. It’s lonely.
To top it off, your girl is also a serial over-committer. You guys, I have about 1,000 ideas floating around in my head at any given moment and I somehow believe that all of those ideas should be done right NOW. What can I say? I’m a Taurus girl in a Taurus season world right now.
I have ideas and I get excited, okay? I have big plans for my company when it grows up. I want to build something that does damn good work for companies I admire. I want to build something that gives a voice to other women who may not always have a platform. I want to build something that helps women who are experiencing the same struggles I am as a new business owner who works remotely. And I want to build it all yesterday, damn it!
But alas, as my wife told me yesterday while I sat moping over an Old-Fashioned (we are deep in a Mad Men rewatch right now): I need to chill the fuck out, sit in the phase in which I currently find myself, and stop burning myself out. I am putting pressure on top of pressure to already be something that I am years away from becoming. I’m not sure why this is my default function, but it is. “Go, go, go because you’re already behind.”
And it’s that overwhelming voice in my head whispering “Go, go, go because you’re already behind” that has finally caught up to me here, at this JCPenney in the pouring rain, as my good bitch Mother Nature was preventing me from rushing off to The Next Thing™️.
But as I was standing there crying (and, let’s be real, eating my chocolate chip cookie) I realized that this is exactly where I want to be because it means that at least I’m trying. I’m trying and I’m growing and I’m learning so much it’s stupid. And maybe it won’t work out. Maybe a year from now I’m at another full-time job at another awesome company and this essay is just a fun anecdote that I share in my interview.
But maybe it does work out. Maybe a year from now, two years from now, ten years from now, I can look back at that time I openly wept at a mall and laugh at how dumb I was for expecting so much from myself so soon.
Either way, I love where I am right now. I love trying to build something from scratch and all the fun, lonely, exciting, difficult, sad, happy, and fucking hard moments it brings me every single day. Even when I’m soaking wet in a JCPenney parking lot.