LITTLE BY LITTLE, SHE BUILT HER STORY: starting over and celebrating the little wins
When I stepped away from my career in banking, I went through what I refer to as work-withdrawals: I missed the feeling of being really good at something. I adopted a self-deprecating sense of humor saying things like, “Well, I have plenty of time now,” when friends admired something new I was doing with my kids. I similarly downplayed my new business venture saying things like, “I didn’t leave banking to start a skincare company – I left banking to spend more time with my kids.”
One night, after I made some version of those comments again my husband asked me when we were back home: “Why do you do that? Act like what you’re doing with the kids isn’t amazing? Act like your new business venture isn’t a good enough reason to leave banking?”
I could say it was self-preservation, but even that wreaks of insecurity, because the only reason you “self-preserve” is if you expect to fail…or maybe just fail other people’s expectations of you. Reflecting on this, I realized I was allowing the outside world to be the editor of my story – to decide what was good, what should be cut or presented a different way, and maybe whether or not the story was even worth telling.
It took a full 2 years for me to re-train myself to embrace the new story I decided to write for myself. I had to remind myself: I didn’t go into this lightly. I’m not really a “go-lightly” person. I’m ALL IN on being a stay-at-home mom (more so than I anticipated given the pandemic….) and I’m ALL IN on Paraguas. I love both so much, and I care deeply about doing my best possible job. No more keeping those decisions to leap at arms-length for fear of failure. I can’t fail, because I’m just going to keep showing up. I’m just going to keep writing.
Yet….while I no longer apologize for starting a new story, I still have more work to do on embracing my timeline. I’ve never felt such complete authorship over my own story – I previously sold another company’s products and services by their clearly defined rules. Now, that I get to choose everything from formulation, to ingredients, to packaging, to social mission, and more, I find myself meticulously scrutinizing every detail. The result? Slow progress. Progress that I’m proud of, but it’s slow. Whenever I downplay progress with this business as “just a baby step” or throw in a “but we’ll see” caveat, my dad’s response is always the same:
He’s reminding me that ingredients, techniques and time all matter when you’re cooking an amazing meal…but at a simple and fundamental level, if you don’t have your water boiling, that homemade Pasta Bolognese isn’t going to happen. “Bubbles” come from the friction of forward progress: the back and forth that happens as you build a story brick by brick. In sales, it’s putting in your calls; in writing and art, it’s drafting and re-drafting your work; in parenting, it’s being there day after day so they know they you’ll be there for the big stuff. It’s not always beautiful, but it’s essential in building the beautiful.
I just finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s so damn good. One part that really resonated with me was this: “I am a human being, meant to be in perpetual becoming. If I am living bravely, my entire life will become a million deaths and rebirths….The goal is to surrender, constantly, who I just was in order to become who this next moment calls me to be.”
I love how it honors the bravery it takes to start a new story for yourself – to be willing to not be good at something for a little while. It also acknowledges that once you’ve gotten good at it, it’s probably going to be time for a new story. So, why not enjoy the journey?
I hope you celebrate each little step you take in building your story (new or well-worn), and remember: You gotta have bubbles.