It’s a long story. But, I’ll sum it up in three words. I got tired.
Tired of trying to fit in. Tired of trying to conform. Tired of wearing a mask. Tired of leaving pieces of who I was at the door so others could feel comfortable being completely themselves.
Tired of other people deciding how much I was worth. Tired of giving other people the power to determine when I got paid and how much. Tired of negotiating my value, my abilities, my freedom.
So, I jumped. I made the leap. I’d dreamed of being an entrepreneur for years. Not so much the CEO part, but certainly the part where I had control of my destiny and would create an enterprise that was my own. I don’t believe I thought it was a bed of roses, fields of purple lavender, or magnificent utopia. Nevertheless, I knew it offered a degree of freedom that the corporate plantation would never allow me. I’d also worked enough years in financial services to understand that every business at some point was a small business. Working in private equity taught me that small firms could have an enormous economic impact and make lots of money for both owners and investors. But, most importantly, I learned those with the real power founded and ran their own company. They had a courage and fortitude those satisfied with merely coming in to collect their paychecks did not. I always wanted to be like them, the one whose name was on the check.
I love being an entrepreneur. It’s freedom. A freedom I don’t think I would have ever experienced in corporate America — -especially, as a black woman.The loneliness of entrepreneurship I was not prepared for, which I don’t think anyone is ever truly prepared. Not the kind of loneliness you feel after a breakup; or after someone dies. Or even the loneliness of solitary confinement. It’s a different kind of loneliness. It’s the kind of loneliness I imagine foreigners feel in a new country where no one understands their language or culture. There are others out there who can, but they often are not in your immediate circle. You don’t see them regularly. You have to go out and find them. Create a new squad. Search for a different tribe. Join a new team. Most people don’t understand the life of an entrepreneur — -only other entrepreneurs seem to understand your life, your struggle, your drive, your schedule.
Still, I wouldn’t trade it. It’s not easy, but I’m jubilant. I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been. It feels great. I learn every day. Every day, I experience new challenges. I am forced to grow and wrestle with myself, my doubts, my fears, and my choices. It’s the most exhilarating feeling I’ve ever had. I’m not looking back. The only question I have now is: Why the hell did it take me so long to get here?!?!
And, that is a discussion for another day.