I started my business a few weeks before I graduated from college. I was just shy of 22 years old, I, and most of my friends around me did not have a job lined up and I knew I needed to figure something out. I had 6 months until it was time to start repaying my student loans and I was out on my own. No more room and board scholarships. No more stealing meals swipes from freshmen.
Today, I’ve been in business about three years and I’m floating around where my goals indicated I should be. It was definitely was not an easy path and I made a lot of sacrifices to be able to rest peacefully on my foundation that allows for more growth and steady opportunity. The sacrifices I made were ones my friends and family couldn’t relate to and I was really creating this path alone.
I found myself experiencing both pride and satisfaction in what I was doing, but I also found resentment and anger in my heart. I was jealous of my friends and wanted to go out and socialize and ‘act my age’. I wanted to spend money on new clothes and new cars like so many of my friends were doing after college, although later learning they couldn’t really afford it made me feel better. I wanted to take weekend trips and fun mini vacations and be more carefree. That seemed to be the trend of my generation anyways, and I felt left out.
I picked up a full time job in order to speed up the repayment of my debt and really create a clean slate for my business and finances. I was working 9-10 hours a day at my full time job and then coming home and working for another 4-5. I had no social life and I didn’t get to see my family as often as I’d like. I was exhausted but I made it work.
I would daydream (yes, daydream) about all of the extra time I would have if I just had my full time job. Going to work for 8 hours, coming home and reading a book, watching a movie or maybe even binge watching LOST; my reality was simple though-I simply did not have that luxury. My friends would text me and tell me they were bored or asked if I wanted to go to the beach or the bar and my response was inevitably the same: “I have to work.” I was envious of their time and their leisure to do things and see each other that I started to create negative energy around my business. I wasn’t convinced it was what I wanted to do and I didn’t want to feel over worked and isolated for the rest of my life.
I realized quickly that I needed to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in the long term and what was going to make me truly happy. I slowly started understanding that even though I did feel like I was missing out, I knew my actions were responsible and that my hard work would definitely pay off. I started meditating on the long term and what my future would look like. I also internalized what I was missing out on and that most of it was more material than anything else. I learned to manage my time better so I could spend time with those who mattered and avoiding spending money ended up being a positive.
Today, I am no longer working full time for an employer and I am running my business full time. The sacrifices I made to get my business in a stable and successful state were intense. Being in your earlier 20’s and trying to find your way in such an evolving and ever-changing workforce is not only challenging but also terrifying. Looking back on the things I missed out on, I feel confident that it was worth it.
My takeaway here may sound cliché, but it’s real and it’s legitimate. When things get tough and you question how much you want to push forward, weigh it out. Think about the long term and what you need to do to get there. Great things only come with sacrifice; it’s what separates us from everyone else. Stay motivated and find your coping mechanisms. Realize the light at the end of the tunnel is only the beginning and all good things come back around. Remain grateful for the opportunity to make sacrifice and grow.