Today I woke up at 6am. Like any other Monday, I rushed to get out of the house by 6:30am to begin my two hour commute from Washington Crossing, PA to New York City. I grabbed a large cup of coffee & jumped on the NJ Transit express. As caffeine washed away the remnants of morning grogginess, my heart-rate quickened with growing anticipation. Today was not like any other Monday. Today was the day I’ve been thinking about for three years- the day I get to quit my corporate desk job to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.
For two years, I had hustled to create a solid foundation to my start-up while maintaining a full-time position as an operations analyst at a hedge fund. I had carefully crafted a respectable exit strategy from the company and even lined up an enjoyable part-time position at a local winery to ease the financial burden of quitting. Yet, the idea of walking into my boss’s office today to hand in my resignation was turning my stomach inside out.
Most entrepreneurs are over-achievers, and despite our overwhelming desire to go out on our own, the idea of quitting runs counter to our go-getter cores. Not to mention the “small” concerns running through our minds like paying the bills, getting health insurance, & funding a business. We have spent months deflecting the negative, often under-handed comments from friends & family who believe our entrepreneurial dreams are foolish. We are self assured, creative, and ready to take life by storm. Yet there I was with my sweaty palms and heart racing.
It was 3pm as I sat in my cubicle gathering up courage to take the plunge. For four years, I had worked my tail off at this company in order to be recognized as a valuable asset. Despite the long hours of monotonous work, I had been rewarded handsomely. Now at 25 years old, I was about to walk away from it all to start over. It was easy to make excuses to delay the task at hand. I kept my eyes focused on the computer monitor in order to avoid a guilt-ridden glance at my coworkers. After countless hours of working side-by-side I considered them close friends, and the thought of having deceived them made me uncomfortable.
4pm rolled around; time was running out, and there I sat, glued to my chair. It was then that I clearly pictured getting home Monday night, disappointed & ashamed that I had let fear hold me back one more day from following for my dreams. This image propelled my shaky legs straight into my boss’s office where I firmly proclaimed I was leaving the company.
As soon as I passed the hurdle of telling my boss & coworkers, I felt rejuvenated and ready to move forward with my big plans. However, beneath the joy & relief I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed for having allowed myself to get so distracted. Second-guessing was not a characteristic of my self-persona as the confident, fearless entrepreneur. What I realized today, though, is that it is okay. It is okay to get scared; it is even okay to temporarily lose focus. The difference is- we, as young entrepreneurs, don’t let that stop us. We get up, dreams in hand, walk into the office, & quit.
Tina Paparone is the co-founder & CEO of the unique gift company BeMe, which creates products to inspire girls to embrace their individuality.