Almost three years ago I left a successful corporate career to make the world a better place. Some people thought I was crazy. Others were excited and impressed. I remember being so grateful to have the privilege and opportunity to follow my heart.
I STILL FEEL VERY GRATEFUL, BUT IT'S MUCH MORE COMPLICATED NOW.
Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao
I knew that making the world a better place would require hard work. But I didn't realize how hard it would actually be, or how much of myself this work would require. I didn't recognize the expectations I was bringing with me - or the ones that other people had. And I certainly didn't understand how failure would take on a new meaning in my life.
I also underestimated the beauty this work would bring into my life. How my heart would be shattered into a million pieces and then rebuilt stronger because of the unconditional love and generosity of strangers. That I would find true, fierce bravery walking through the darkest corners of this world.
OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS, I HAVE FAILED MORE TIMES THAN I CAN COUNT.
I'm not being dramatic. This isn't an overstatement. It's been a near-constant state of failure in both big and small ways. The truth is that failure has become a state of being for me - and I'm eternally grateful for it. Here are a few of my big failures.
Within months, I quit working for the startup that I had left corporate to join. My expectations were entirely different from reality and I learned some hard lessons very quickly. But that failure opened up the door to amazing new relationships and gave me the opportunity to commit more of myself to international relief work, which has become a part of my DNA now.
THANK YOU, FAILURE.
I started my first fintech company - it was a really good idea - but I realized that my heart wasn't in it. I couldn't build a company that fed into a system I knew was broken, so I closed the doors. Another big failure. Interestingly, that same kernel of an idea has inspired some bigger solutions I'm working on now for Just A Girl.
THANK YOU, FAILURE.
Image Credit: Ken Treloar
Last year I started creating a nonprofit that would use art to build soft skills. But I had to abandon the nonprofit structure (compliance is a beast) and pivot the strategy twice to align the work to what the world needs. I had to let go of projects I loved to make room these pivots. This felt like a total failure, but I've been able to build some powerful programming and expand my personal education (yay new certifications!). It's this work that also opened up the door to me founding Just A Girl.
THIS ONE STILL FEELS RAW SOMETIMES. EVEN SO, THANK YOU, FAILURE.
I put everything I have into trying to make the world a better place - my heart, my pride, my reputation, my creativity, my money, my career, my time, my comfort...everything. There were many times I thought about giving up. And if I'm being honest, giving up still crosses my mind sometimes (because being all in is hard).
I HAVE FAILED MY WAY TO WHERE I'M AT NOW.
All these failures now seem to line up, pointing me in the direction of Just A Girl. Pushing me toward creating a global dialog around mental health and women's empowerment. I've come to realize that failure is not my enemy. It's my co-creator. It's the ever-loving hand of life redirecting me toward learning, growing and becoming more. Failure isn't something that happens to me - it is the state of being that allows me to thrive in ways I never knew were possible.
I'm proud to be a failure. Because of failure, I have found my voice.