If you didn’t know by the bags under my eyes, I’ve been running my embroidery art and events business on the side of my regular 9-to-5 job, working nights and weekends and if we’re being honest, barely surviving.
Last week, I finished my last day at the job my college degree trained me for, closing the lid of my laptop and shutting out Corporate America [hopefully] for the last time. The emotional labor had gotten to me and I felt so burnt out from the toxicity of my job, all while my extra energy was going into my “hobby” that was really the only thing getting me out of bed every morning.
It’s been a dream of mine to own my own business since I was a kid totting around my father’s carpeted office from the 70s and overhearing talk of revenue and ROI and whatever the fuck else white businessmen talk about. As I grew older and began to form my own opinions, I looked back on those years with a less golden hue and decided that if I were to actually own my own small business, I would do my own thing a different way.
Growing up in an environment which never accepted me for who I was really cemented my need for independence and individuality in my business. I knew I would never be able to just pull a business out of a box or jump on someone else’s bandwagon. My business would have to be an extension of me—and a large extension at that.
But, when I started making moves to leave my salaried tech job, I was (and still am) really fearful. And while, yes, the financial reality of becoming self-employed loomed over, the real fear I had was the toll a creative business would take on me. When anyone would ask if any of my hobbies or side-hustles would go full time, I would respond…
“Oh, god no. I would be a TERRIBLE boss to myself. Nothing could be worse than that.”
Which…is honestly funny because I’ve had truly abusive jobs. Like once, I was on a work trip and had a series of panic attacks so debilitating that I had to be flown home halfway through the trip. I’ve been expected to work 80 hours a week for no overtime or extra pay and I’ve sat in meetings with coworkers sobbing.
All of this…in the name of security. The salary. The benefits. The “guarantee” your job will be there tomorrow. But, you know what? That’s actually a fucking lie. What job security? What guarantee? If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that no one really has job security in the first place and companies can take it away at any moment.
I don’t have desires to be an influencer or aspire to be a CEO, I just mostly don’t want people telling me what to do or my ultimate fate resting in the hands of people most concerned about profit, and I don't want to become a boss who holds employees accountable to see my vision from my view. In fact, working for myself in this capacity is EXACTLY accomplishing what I want to do and what I want to avoid. As I told my therapist...at the end of the day, I just want to make things, do what I love and pay my bills.
Although I'm scared and this all feels unknown, I'm excited to venture on this journey of self-employment. I know I'm not alone and I'm so grateful for my community of fellow makers and creatives and small-biz supporters (hi, that's you!)
Thank you for being on this journey with me!