After grad school, I had an interview with one of the founders of a top tech company for a design research position. I was really nervous and excited about the interview. But when I walked into the office, I noticed the grey carpets and neon lights and felt a rock in my stomach.
My intuition was flagging me: no, no, no. But another side of me was saying: "Majo, this opportunity is AMAZING." You'll be able to tell your family, "I work for such and such" and you'll be able to write it on your Twitter bio "design researcher @swankystartup."
The interview went ok. Definitely not great. After the interview, I fell into a mini 2-day depression. At first I thought it was fear as I knew I wasn't going to get the position. I was afraid of the impending rejection. And I didn't feel the energy or motivation to fight for it.
But as I listened deeper and through the fear, there was another voice from the universe: "Majo, you're too free-spirited... carve your own path."
That freedom also felt very complicated and I felt a lot of resistance to it at first (that's why I started interviewing at companies after grad school). My thoughts:
- How am I going to support myself?
- What would I tell my family?
- What on Earth would I write in my Twitter bio (sounds pathetic, I know)?
- It seems like way too much work to launch my own business; I don't want to sacrifice my healthy lifestyle
All these voices were the voices of my inner critic by the way who hoped I would avoid the risk of what I was about to do.
If you're an independently minded woman like me, it can be hard to ask others for help when you transition into what you truly want to do. Often we feel like we don't deserve it, it's too much to ask or we hate the idea of depending on others for our progress.
If you have high-achieving or perfectionist tendencies, swallowing your pride to ask for financial support as you follow your calling can feel like crap.
But the most important key to transitioning into your most meaningful work is managing the negative emotions around asking for support.
Because if this is your dream and you believe in the work you want to do, feelings of pride, guilt, and shame must not get in your way.
When transitioning out of a full-time job or school and into carving your own path, here are 3 "safety nets" or "anchors" that can support you as you leap.
*Important note: This post assumes you have little to no savings or runway from a former job to help bridge you over. If you do, congrats! You may still want to consider the possibilities below for supplemental support if needed.
1. A part-time "bridge job"
What's a bridge job? A bridge job is a part-time employment that doesn't take up brain cycles and has a predictable schedule. The tiny problem with them is that they can often feel like you're regressing. It's the job at Starbucks, the local spa or bookstore.
It isn't great, but it pays the bills! That's the key. It's the job on the side that supports you as you do what you really want to do. If you don't have a partner, family, or savings to support you, a bridge job may be the best investment you make into your new path. Here are a few requirements of a good bridge job:
- It does not take up brain cycles
- It is part-time
- It has a regular rhythm and set schedule
- It is relaxed, low pressure, and even boring
2. A romantic partner
I know, how 1950s right? The feminist in you cringes. You think of all the generations of women who suffered so that you could play with the big "boys," not depend on them all over again.
Turn down all the feminist narratives running through your mind, and listen to the calling of your dream.
Remember that this support isn't necessarily forever. Make a commitment to yourself to utilize the support from your partner as a way for you to become economically viable.
Don't question the blessing and be grateful!
I can hear the moans from here. But you've depended on your parents for so long and you're ready to take flight and "unburden them" so to speak.
I have friends and clients out of undergrad and grad school who are more than capable of becoming entrepreneurial changemakers TODAY I know it with every bone in my body. But, they have to move in with their parents for a period of time and they can't stand the idea of it being for too long. Instead of taking the time to start their business while they live with their parents, they're looking for any way out of the house.
I highly encourage you to reframe the move in as another opportunity to springboard into your business. Often when you communicate to parents openly about your direction and are specific about how they can support you, they agree.
What do you need to manage? Your sadness of their "disappointment" that you're not working for McKinsey. But they'll come around.
The problem is keeping them in the dark or making them feel like you are completely lost (even if that's true, present some game plan to them to quell their little worried hearts).
In the end, the key is to swallow your pride and feelings of "shame" about moving back in (especially if you are a child of immigrants) because again from an objective viewpoint, it's quite the blessing and advantage.
Conclusion: swallow that pride
All in all, these safety nets may make you feel like you are regressing, either back to high school or to your grandmother's epoch...but you will get through it and it won't last forever.
Swallow your pride and go for it.
The people you will serve one day will be so grateful that you managed your negative feelings around "not being good enough" or "having failed" by society's standards to follow your heart.
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Photo by Jaclyn Le