There are several reasons I decided to start my own business and launch Bags by Bento. Check out last week’s blog Why I FINALLY Started My Own Business for all the details. But mostly, I don’t ever want to work for a business owner who destroys my self-esteem again.
Two and half years ago I was working in finance. I was never meant to work in the corporate world. I had the skills and I was damn good at my job but my heart just wasn’t in it. It was always a poor fit for me. For years I tried to change myself to make it work. I was exhausted, depressed, and constantly frustrated. I longed for the days when I roamed freely and had new experiences often. I dreamed of going out on my own and started teaching myself the skills I needed to accomplish my goals. In the meantime, I looked for other jobs that might suit me better but nothing was working out. I felt totally trapped.
After over two years of trying to escape a toxic work environment, I found myself unemployed. I was angry, confused, and deeply ashamed. At first, I completely blamed myself. I look back on those memories and there several things I learned in the process:
1. My value isn’t determined by my job/career
I think we all know this in theory but then proceed to put our blood, sweat, and tears into a job or career that is sucking us dry. I thought I was “earning my stripes” and one day I would get to jump off the hamster wheel and realize I had arrived at success. In my case, it never happened and I was one passive-aggressive comment away from burning down my office building (kinda kidding). Being unemployed for an extended period of time has taught me how to value myself as a human not for what I do but just because I AM.
2. Take. Up. Space.
Literally. I choose to spread out my beautiful body the way it was meant to. I don’t believe them when they say I’m “too much” because the same people will later say I’m “not enough”
3. My voice matters
I’m not “aggressive” I’m assertive and confident. I have something to say and it’s important no matter where I am in the “hierarchy.”
4. There’s no shame in starting somewhere.
Taking a risk isn’t inherently irresponsible. My gut is telling me, “There is more!” I will never know what’s out there in the world until I explore it. It may seem stupid taking tiny steps forward but most people don’t reach their goals by the snap of their fingers. It’s the combination of thousands of tiny actions that make a dream come true.
5. I will no longer waste my time trying to convince people I’m worthy.
My essence and personality aren’t for everyone and that is OKAY. I don’t try to be all things to all people anymore (well, for the most part. I’m still a recovering people pleaser). I choose to embrace all of who I am and I don’t apologize for it.
Getting fired is actually one of the best things to happen to me. I was released from the cage of expectations. I was able to let go of my need to abandon myself for the sake of others. Now I’m free.