It’s been almost 3 months since I walked out the doors of corporate america. I feel like I’ve done so much yet not much all at the same time – Does that even make sense? Part of me feels proud for following my heart, being a little irresponsible and going the nontraditional route. I’ve started something that’s all my own – that’s more fruitful action than months spent creating power points. Part of me feels in awe of all that I still would like to do and the possibilities and challenges ahead.
In honor of my own 3-month anniversary with freedom, I made a list of things I’ve learned along the way. It is after all a process of self-discovery right?
- Passion is oxygen: yes this sounds cliche but it’s so so true. I remember at my old job, I worked hard but I was just going through the routine and doing everything out of conscientiousness. I lacked passion and I lacked energy. Now I work around the clock (even at 4am!) but I never feel the dread of getting up to work. My love for what I do just keeps me going. I’ve come to really appreciate having a passion and I really think (for me at least) passion is the #1 factor that I need to stay happy.
- I’m not alone: I think of myself as a one-woman show. while at the beginning I found this little title exciting (I am doing everything!), it quickly grew into a mental weight. I am alone by myself during most of the day and on those days when things don’t go right, I feel downright frustrated and unable to clarify my thoughts by talking to a partner or confidant. But then I discovered the power of community. There are people out there going through similar experiences as me. All I have to do is reach out and be a part of the conversation.
- Busy is not always good: I often find it hard to stop working and to stop thinking about work. If I had to psycho-analyze myself, it’s probably because I associate busyness with commitment and progress. Now I try to disrupt that equation, because I find that sometimes being busy makes me less productive. It pigeon holes me into an approach without taking that necessary step back to ask if it all still makes sense. Plus my brain and body are just not so happy about being trapped indoors all the time without fun breaks.
- Be my own cheerleader: Growing up in China, it was not cool to pat yourself on the back. You waited for others to complement you and then you derive that sense of satisfaction from the recognition. All my life, I think I’ve based a huge part of my confidence on what others thought of me. And when positive words aren’t forthcoming, I start doubting myself. Now that I work on a start-up, I’ve realized that I can’t count on other people to recognize me because they don’t know me yet!!! I’ve only got myself and I’ve got to believe in myself. I’ve got to celebrate (even baby steps count) and I’ve got to pick myself up.
These are some of the” tip of the iceberg” lessons that I’ve learned so far. I don’t have it all down perfectly yet but saying them out loud helps me appreciate them and hopefully continue doing better in the months to come!