Seven years ago this month, my first book was released. When I wrote A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way, I wanted to demystify the journey and give voice to a rarely talked about piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle.
Being an entrepreneur is an emotionally demanding feat.
And I had a hypothesis - that most people quit their entrepreneurial endeavours not because of the money (which is what they say), but because they have run out of emotional bandwidth to sustain.
Almost in a strange twist of fate, the universe would respond to my efforts by immediately testing my own emotional resolve. A struggle that's taken my time, attention and energy for the last seven years.
In 2016 (the same time I was publishing my book), I experienced three separate events that triggered a trauma response. One was familial, one was from my childhood, and one was ancestral. The compounding nature of all three of them happening at once was too heavy a burden to carry. And it turned my world upside down.
Instead of acting on my plans for 2017, I often found myself crying at my desk for long stretches of time. I was highly sensitive, easily hurt, and consumed by fear. But I didn't realize any of that at the time. I just thought I was an epic loser.
The disconnect between the way I had to "show up" as a business owner and the reality of how I was feeling inside seemed extremely disingenuous. It was also exhausting. I both wanted to be seen and acknowledged in my suffering, while also portraying the confidence and success people expected, lest I entirely lose my ability to provide for my family.
Rather than stepping into my new found business prowess as I intended, I enrolled in a small group spiritual program. I was lost, confused, scared and hopeless. And I needed a place where I could embark on the first part of the framework in A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide, understanding myself on a deeper level.
Rather unexpectedly, I had encountered this entity inhabiting my mind and body that I had never acknowledged before. And she was fierce!
There was no going back to the way things were. The doors of my own traumatic past were flung wide open and had infested my consciousness like a virus. Forever present, even when dormant.
I could no longer ignore these parts of myself that were making life feel so unbearable. And yet facing them was no easy feat either. It seemed the more work I did, the more gremlins within myself that I uncovered. The more uncomfortable I felt. The harder things got.
I instinctively stepped into a mode of self-preservation.
Whereas before, I would act with haste and dedication to new ideas, I found myself consumed with doubt and fear. Putting myself out there. Taking risks. It all felt nearly impossible. This is when and why my blogging became less consistent and I stopped pursuing speaking gigs.
As time ticked by, I progressed on this journey of recovery by getting additional support. I found a therapist, enrolled in my first HeartMath training and took my first Be Free breathwork class.
I felt like I was finally turning a corner, 3 years later. As 2020 began, I had hopes that it would be my comeback year. We all know what happened instead.
My past struggles oddly prepared me for COVID. I had tools, journaling, heart focused meditation, exercise, therapy, breathwork, yoga, friends, all to help me weather the storm with greater ease. Despite all that, the disruption was disorienting. And I found myself grappling with anxiety like never before.
The last three years, my hopes have continuously been dashed. I spent 2022 dealing with cancer instead of focusing on rejoining the world post COVID. And 2023 has been yet another year of unexpected challenges that have demanded my time, energy and attention.
I've spoken with many people that have also found this year to be difficult and trying. It's nice to know I'm not alone.
And that's why I'm sharing my story with you now. To let you know that you are not alone either.
I'm no longer hanging my hopes on some magical shift in the universe where all is wonderful and life is easy. For years I've counseled myself in my journal. "the challenge is what makes it so rewarding in the long-run."
But this advice can be difficult to accept when in the thick of despair. When I experience a hallowness in my gut, along with a sinking feeling and a heavy heart, conventional acts of perseverance are unattainable.
The answer is not to push on. It is to succumb to my needs for rest, rejuvenation and recovery. And to accept that the work of self-restoration is important even though there are so many messages suggesting I'm worthless unless I'm producing something.
I don't need to buck up and move on, like so many have suggested over the years. What I need is to show myself compassion, kindness, and care. I need to remind myself that I am capable and I can handle this. And then be open to the fact that I'll figure out how in time.
Perhaps the greatest challenge, is not confusing my propensity to freeze for self-care.
I have come to recognize that I have a deeply ingrained freeze response to certain things I perceive as a threat. It's a sneaky knee jerk reaction that can be easily disguised as "productive." Things like compulsively checking my email. Impulsively searching for answers to random questions online. Letting myself get lost on social media. Are all ways I have gotten locked into a freeze response that feels temporarily rewarding but is ultimately demoralizing.
This awareness brings me back to A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide. It was in writing the book that I realized this:
"You must learn to listen from within and distinguish between the voice of your inner critic and the wisdom of your inner genius. The former will help you out of fear while the latter will guide you to heightened levels of awareness and self-actualization."
For the last 7 years I've been teasing apart my habitual modes of self-preservation. Some of them are actually harmful while others enhance my well-being.
This kind of self-awareness and reflection is what wholehearted leaders continue to prioritize and practice. To explore what it means to be in right relationship with ourselves and others. And to act accordingly, especially when it goes against long established habits.
As circumstances cause the stress and pressure to mount (as I assume it will since we are heading into a contentious election year), discernment between fear and wisdom will be a bedrock for weathering choppy waters with more grace and ease.
My own story may or may not mirror yours. We all have different patterns and life lessons we must lean into. And yet, I often say, sharing is an act of generosity. When we share a piece of our story with others we are offering them a chance to gain insight for their own journey.
I don't know what it is you needed in reading this blog post. But I trust if you've read this far, you have received it. And if you'll indulge me, I'd love to hear what was gained from my story so that I may hear what's on your heart and let you know, you are not alone!