This week I'm celebrating the beginning of my 19th year of self employment!
Over the past two years as #MeToo, #TimesUp, Trump Madness and other identity related issues and topics have played out in our society, I've come to understand perhaps the most significant unexpected consequence of working for myself -- that, unbeknownst to me, I removed myself from environments that would have oppressed me and ground me down.
For more than 20 years.
No having to wear pantyhose — if men had to wear those things, they wouldn’t exist. No shoes that hurt my feet (except if I choose to wear them). No chemicals in my hair that create burns in my scalp (and introduce who knows what toxins into my body). No code-switching. No enduring or having to figure out how to respond to sexual harassment. No enduring or having to figure out how to respond to racist assumptions, omments or institutions. No morphing or contorting myself to fit in. No being the only woman, and or person of color, and or woman of color, and or Black person in the room.
No having to force-fit myself into a culture or situation. No trimming back my edges so someone else doesn't feel uncomfortable for some ridiculous reason. No not being right for some nebulous reason that people just can't put their finger on even though I work my behind off and do everything they told me to do last year in order to succeed this year.
No incessant drum beat of not being quite good enough. No drip, drip, drip almost-invisible water torture of criticism. No one gaslighting me or telling me that I'm being overly sensitive about a race or gender-related issue.
No one repeating the idea that I just shared and pretending that it was his own.
Thank you, Lord!
Today, I understand that sparing myself from these types of interactions have made a tremendous difference in my self-confidence, self-esteem and self efficacy. Rarely have I had to alter myself to conform to someone else's expectation of who or how I should be.
I have, however, had to improve myself by doing personal-development work.
I have also broken free myself from many limiting beliefs -- ranging from the certainty that I'd be homeless if I followed my dreams, to the fear that I wouldn't be able to provide for myself as a creative person, to being positive that I'd ruin my life financially. These were just some of the lies that I'd internalized, believing that would be my reality if I left the traditional workplace.
Amazingly, those ideas have just gone poof! It's hard to imagine that I'd once believed them.
Instead, 18 years of self-employment, 15 books, 14 countries visited, 12 years of a 6-figure income (and several more in the high 5-figures), 3 New York Times best-sellers, 2 NAACP Image Awards and 1 paid-off house later, I'm pushing into new possibilities -- all while living life on my own terms.
As I approach my 57th birthday, I wonder what other beliefs I carry that 19 years from now I'll think were ridiculous. I want to blast through all of them. I can't imagine retiring or even slowing down. God willing, I'll be uncovering more passions and following them for 20 years or even more!
Thank you for supporting me along the way -- whether by being one of the amazing members of my nuclear or extended family, or through your friendship over the years, or by partnering with me at work or on a project, or by inspiring me with your own life, or by sharing information and challenging me to think more deeply, or by seeing my possibilities and encouraging me, or by taking a workshop or one of my coaching programs.
P.S. — If you’re outgrowing your current job or career and need help pushing past fear, uncovering your current passion and developing a strategy to step into your new season professionally, shoot me a line. I may be running a coaching program that would be a good fit for you!