Dear women reading this letter because you were drawn in by the headline and thought, ‘no, for real, I am f*cking everything up.’
You just feel like you are. Because this shit is HARD.
Fulfilling a wonderful, passionate living out of your dreams, yes.
Easy? Hells to the no.
Fun? Depends on the day.
Don’t get me wrong: You love your business, you believe in its mission, and on good days, you can’t believe that this gets to be your life.
But on bad days, you can’t believe that this swirling shitshow of unthinkable chaos is your actual effing life.
And, perhaps the worst part, is that while your self doubt slowly eats away at you like a flesh-eating bacteria, you have to publicly pretend that this is the LIFE. To your friends, to the family that’s making sacrifices because you wanted to all “follow your dreams” and shit, to investors, to your staff — you must act as if what you’re doing is not only super-fun all the time but totally worth leaving your steady paycheck and the hope of someday having a retirement plan that doesn’t consist of “we’ll burn that bridge if we get to it.”
While you stare down problems you don’t know how to fix like a Wild West shootout, you must pretend as if you’ve got it all together. That you don’t sometimes feed your cats treats as meals because you ran out of food. That you aren’t eye level with your laundry pile. That the cashiers in the liquor department don’t end every transaction with, “see you tomorrow!”
You’re living a lie. And because of this lie, you feel like an imposter. An imposter who is f*cking everything up.
I get it. I feel you. I am you.
Which is why I feel confident enough to say this: You are not, even remotely, f*cking everything up. You are kicking ass. You are doing the best you can with who you are right now. You, we, are going to figure this out. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to be an overnight sensation. You don’t even have to shower every day.
Truth be told, though, you could probably do with a haircut.
We will get through this the same way we’ve gotten through every other hard thing in our lives: With our girls. Or boys. Or bois. Or grrls. You get my drift. Our people.
We will power through this with tears, late-night phone calls and tell-all conversations that leave us feeling raw but refreshed. Vulnerable and validated. We will find people who understand what we’re going through because they, too, have walked or are walking the pulsating plank of entrepreneurship.
We will build our own villages of fellow women entrepreneurs who will help raise the babies that are our businesses. You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. Even if you’re a single shingle, even if you feel like everything about your business depends just on you, you are not the only woman entrepreneur feeling overwhelmed, overtired and like you want to chuck everything and live off the land like a militia person.
Connecting with other women business owners will not only help you feel less alone, it can help you build your skills: There’s another woman out there who’s really good at the things you’re really bad at, and vice versa. You can work together to get better.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I have a feeling you need to hear it. In the last week, I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of women entrepreneurs. Some have established businesses, while others are raising capital for their start-ups or are riding out the growing pains of growing their businesses. Each conversation was a slight variation on the same theme: ‘Holy crap, this is hard. And I feel like I’m f*cking everything up.’
If you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, you probably already know that you can’t swing a cat without hitting a meetup group for women business owners. Go to events. Test out the crowds. Feel awkward. Strike up conversations with strangers on the off chance you click. If you want someone to go to these events with, hit me up.
If you don’t live here, see if there are networking events for women business owners in your city. If there aren’t, create one. Or, well, hit me up.
We’re gonna get through this together. I believe in us.
This piece originally appeared on MAQTOOB for Entrepreneurs on Medium.