So, recently a strange thing has been happening to me…. Whenever I tell people I left Google to start my own business, a common response is, “that’s brave!”
I’m utterly bewildered by this. What’s so brave about quitting a stable, high-paying, loads-of-benefit, working-with-great-people-job?
The truth is, I quit because that high-paying awe-inducing job wasn’t sustainable for me anymore. I was stressed out and anxious all the time, the anxiety would lead to insomnia, which then spirals into a bunch of bad health outcomes. I didn’t enjoy that my time was not my own, but belonged to the big G; I hated having to scramble for childcare, every time there’s an early dismissal, or a random day off for my kids.
And, because I was too afraid to quit, I started something else so I can TELL everyone I was off to do something else. That’s not brave, that’s finding a good reason to quit.
Then I thought about it, a lot. And you know what? Maybe it was brave? Maybe it was brave to call it when I realized something wasn’t working for me; maybe it was brave to start something from nothing.
With Be Merry I did everything wrong. When I filed the LLC I got the address wrong (d’oh!) and had to refile. When I filed the Fictitious Business Name (FBN) I did that wrong also, the nice people at Santa Clara County sending me a letter asking for a re-do.
Opening the bank account took 3 days (turns out I couldn’t do it over the phone, and had to go in in-person); getting the website took many weeks; I had a whole team of people help me decide on the Be Merry logo, and even that took a few days. It was a long, slow, drawn-out, not-fast process, but you know what? I kept going. And now Be Merry is an actual business (!!!).
I started to think about how we don’t talk about “brave” things. My parents, at the peak of their respective careers, left their friends/family/communities behind and moved to a new country! Was that brave? Yeah! My mother, as an immigrant, decided to start her own business, and, due to a bunch of logistical reasons, that business had to move locations and change names 3 times until she finally landed. That business would ultimately pay for my very expensive private school tuition. Was that brave? Heck yeah!
But we never talked about it that way. We never celebrated my mom, who is this amazing entrepreneur, who’s probably on her 20th business now? In her mid-50s, she decided to start all over, in a different country. She's the bravest person I know, but I never talk about her.
I think, as women, we’re taught to minimize ourselves. Minimize our accomplishments, minimize our presence, our voices. Hm, well, I think that stops… TODAY.
I am brave. I’m brave that I called it quits when I realized that the fancy job wasn’t working for me. I am brave that I can walk away from the money/social prestige/instant respect that comes from working for the G. I am brave that I started something from nothing - I DID THAT. I am proud that I advocated for my own wellbeing, and even more proud that I used my voice and advocated for what I wanted.
So today, be brave, and own it. What did you do today that we could celebrate? Like Sara Barelilles, I want to see you be brave!