Starting my business wasn’t an overnight feat. But it also wasn’t the typical story. I didn’t sit in on some seminar, hear the whispers of inspiration from #bossbabes on Instagram, or get a degree in business, marketing, or even in the industry I started my business in, Public Relations.
Three major things had to happen for me before I started my own business at the ripe, young, impressionable and pissed off age of 27:
I got angry;
I realized only I was stopping me from starting;
Then, I got a concussion. A literal K-O from the universe.
I’ll back it up just a tiny bit though.
I was approaching my fifth year of recovery from alcoholism. By that point, I had kept a few jobs here and there, found some that felt like they had some purpose, but never really *fit* in anywhere, you know? Purposeful work felt fleeting for me, and I wanted a space where I could create and bring all my big ideas to life. My problem was slow start in the industry. The entry level jobs I was getting, after countless unpaid internships, were contracts that paid no more than $13 an hour. My ex and I lived off of two meals a day, sometimes unable to pay our phone or internet bills and mounting student debt. We’d hit up McDonald’s throughout the week because it was cheaper to eat a dollar menu item than buy vegetables.
Around that time, I also started doing what I call the ‘deep digging’ of recovery work. I was in emotional pain — in my family relationships, in my intimate relationship, and it was affecting the quality of my life. I started going to 12-step programs for survivors of dysfunctional families, and reading everything I could about recovering from childhood abuse. I jumped head-first into Adult Children of Alcoholics, read After the Tears and From Surviving to Thriving, every book on codependency and surviving a childhood of neglect and trauma. It was my mission.
What I came to realize was something significant: the ideas I had about my limitations were not my own ideas. They were ideas implanted in me by the people around me my whole life, beginning at a very young age. Shame and doubt were the seedlings of my youth, sitting ripened on my tongue for an adulthood of false starts.
Having had this ‘blueprint’ for thinking ‘of course no one will support me or think I’m smart’, I frequently found myself playing out these dynamics in all of my relationships. I dated men who couldn’t witness all of me, I had bosses who wanted me to keep quiet and stay in line, I had friends who wanted me around for their convenience and bullying. I never got the job or made the grade because I didn’t think I deserved it. I never asked for it either.
Most importantly, up to that point, I had doubted myself and my capabilities. I doubted thinking I ever deserved anything good, anything wonderful in life. When you’re raised being told you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re annoying — why would you think you deserve anything other than abuse?
This is where the magic happens.
Six months into working this ACA program, and digging deep into family dynamics, pattern thinking, and negative core beliefs, I get a concussion.
After a particularly bad week at a shitty contract PR job I had at the time, I went out for a fancy-pants dinner with my partner at the time (we had gift cards — better use them, right?). On the streetcar coming back home, some teenagers were rough-housing near where we were sitting and a gangly dude of no more than 22 falls into me and his elbow nails the back of my head. I suddenly don’t know where I am, and start speaking slowly.
A trip to the ER and one panicked boyfriend later, I had a concussion and had to stay in bed and off screens for a minimum of ten days.
Cut to me being in the dark with absolutely nothing to do for ten days. I lived in a basement apartment at the time (wonderful for keeping cool in the summer months), so it was a perfect dark cave for staying away from the bright lights of the real world that made me nauseated. It was recommended to me to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while in this cave-creature like state.
So I did.
Hating podcasts as I do, I downloaded a few Wayne Dyer books, the latest Brene Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Danielle LaPorte books. I listened to each one of them, on repeat, all in the matter of ten days. My partner fed me and brought me lots of water between his shifts, and I stayed in a dark cavernous bedroom with no windows. It felt like a womb.
To be as cliché about it as possible, I was completely reborn.
Emerging from this ten-day recovery in a dark room, everything felt and seemed crystal clear to me. I just intuitively knew I was going to start a business. I just intuitively knew how it was going to function. I intuitively knew what our values would be, what our clients would be like, what my every single day would be like. I intuitively knew I was going to get a Masters in Business Design, apply the learnings, and create a business with meaning and purpose, bringing meaning and purpose to the clients I served.
Divinity came, knocked me out, and forced me into a hermit sanctuary in order to right myself with the proper path that the universe intended for me.
I felt awash with peace and knowing.
A few months later, it all came together and I banked my first client. I went on a massive limb after getting my tax return of two-thousand dollars (that was at least a couple months rent at the time) and quit my job. Never mind my mounting debt, my student loans, I was going to make this work.
And I did.
I was working my first TIFF as a solo entrepreneur and someone at a party asked me about starting my business earlier that year. She wanted to know if it was scary, she said starting a business seems like the scariest thing you could ever do.
Starting my business was an act of radical self-love, and service for the clients I would work with for the four years that followed. With my business, I created the community I sought, I elevated the stories I wanted to see in the world, I empowered the voices of creators, and I was rewarded with more and more peace and knowing. Literally the entire time.
So, I told her it wasn’t scary at all. In fact, it was easy. It was one of the easiest things I have ever done. Just like how loving someone is easy, because they are easy to love. As we all are. Sometimes, you just need to get a universal K-O to let the peace in.