“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”
(Mary Ann Radamacher)
My husband and I are both self-employed. While there is a lot of wonderfulness that goes along with that, there’s also a tremendous amount of stress.
There are months when the money doesn’t line up. Each down month typically takes several months to recover from. Strings of down months can signal more than a year of struggle, even though receipts look good in the moment.
I totally understand why people prefer the comfort and expected predictability of W-2 life.
The Accidental Entrepreneur
I never intended to be self-employed. When I was training as a therapist, I dreamed about setting up a holistic wellness center that was grant based. I could see to it that people who otherwise couldn’t afford the care they needed, would have access to a kind of wellness that would help them eliminate obstacles and take hold of a fulfilling, stable life.
I never found that grant writer to link arms with that would have made that possible.
I wound up starting my private practice alongside a couple of other gigs in 2004 when the Pastoral Counseling Center for which I worked was sacrificed on the altar of its supporting church’s budgetary politics. I didn’t have money to start the practice with. I took my clients with me and made an agreement for space with a different church. I learned how to put a website up and boned up on marketing. Gen X resiliency for the win!
I looked for steady-pay jobs every month for about eight years while building my private practice. I either couldn’t apply because I had the right training but wrong credentials, or they didn’t pay enough to keep a roof over our heads. All the while, well-meaning but uninformed people in my life kept telling me I should stop trying to do private practice and “just get a job.” Would that I could!
You could say that my private practice was an unintended pregnancy. Like so many unintended pregnancies, I just… made it work.
Here I am, nearly 20 years later, still in practice. I stopped working other jobs and took the plunge to focus exclusively on private practice in 2017 as a leap of faith. It was a great leap, and not any more or less stable than my prior job-cobbling career. At least now I was only at the mercy of my own mistakes.
When I help clients find perspective after things go sideways with their jobs, their lives, their relationships, this is where it comes from in me. None of this is what I planned or dreamed. The life I have is a life that has manifested as I’ve walked from one uncertainty through another and another. When I tell you that the circumstances are not the thing that make us ok, I am not speaking from piles of wishful thinking; This comes from decades of uncomfortable experiences.
I’m still here.
Which brings me to the rose in the picture up there.
Don’t think for a minute that I’ve walked through each of these challenges with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and some ridiculous Pollyanna sunshine confidence. These challenges are hard. There are times when my inability to see how we are going to pull out of another economic nosedive starts to lay me flat. Hopelessness is a perpetual lurker that loves to stick its tongue out at me from the corners of my life to accuse and shame me: “See? See?? I told you this wouldn’t work! See?!?!?”
It takes a minute before I remember that the accusing voice has been there in my life for over 50 years and I’m still here. It’s been there for almost 20 years of my private practice and close to 40 in my husband’s business. We are both still here. It’s definitely not because we have such amazing business acumen. We both work hard at being very good at what we do; Neither one of us is much good at running our businesses.
Totally discouraged and out of perspective this morning, I drove to the pool to go push out some cortisol and hopelessness. I sat there in the parking lot for about 10 minutes before I decided I just didn’t have the energy for it. I turned around and drove back home.
Dragging myself back up the driveway, I spotted the rose in the picture. I knew immediately where it had come from.
There were two rose bushes plopped in between the driveway and the front walk when we bought this house in 2021. The thorns seemed to intentionally reach out and grab at our clothes, bags, limbs, dogs. They were downright hostile, so I moved them to the backyard just before the first freeze. They are flourishing back there, unable to reach things they can destroy. I no longer hate them for being.
Two years later, this improbable little rose pops its head out from beneath a bush that, like the now-relocated rose bushes, should never have been planted where it is.
I tried to walk past it. I tried to ignore it. My head in a dark cloud of discouragement and self-doubt, I didn’t even feel like being inspired. But I couldn’t unsee it.
I knew right away what its message was: “I’m still here.” Despite all of the odds, all of the hostile forces, all of the uncertainty and improbability, she is still here. I am still here. We are still here. We are even a little bit of loveliness in an untoward landscape.
Just as I bent down to snap the picture, my husband came out of the house to take care of something and try to figure out why I was back already. I didn’t tell him what I was thinking, but he knew when I left that I was feeling overwhelmed with finances and business challenges.
He said, “That’s us. In spite of everything, we are still here.”
Perhaps 20/40 years of uncertainty isn’t so uncertain after all.
Feeling discouraged and hopeless? Unable to see your next step? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s find it together.
And if you happen to be a badass grant writer with a passion for people’s wellness? I’m still open to that dream!