The 29th Year

Disclaimer: It’s no longer thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. It’s also my birthday. I love, love, love my birthday. I know some people just don’t care at all about birthdays but maybe it’s the youngest child in me, I love the attention, and I love feeling that today is a little different, even if only to me. That it’s a fresh start. It’s like a personalized New Year’s, what's not to love?  

I’m 29 today and I’m not quite where I thought I’d be in life. But that’s not a bad thing. I remember in my teens thinking 29 was so old. That I’d be married with kids and living in the ‘burbs while running a big, powerhouse non-profit by now. But here I am, in my snug Lower East Side apartment, single and building a 2 woman corporate empire (how many people does it take to qualify as an empire?!) It has been a big year. A full calendar year of working for myself, of working really hard and achieving some, but not all of my goals. Of stumbling over and over again, but leaning on family and friends to figure out how to get back up and try again. I want to take today to be thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned this year; to recognize that I have the chance to use them as tools to move ahead in the following year. 

Some things I’ve learned this year are so obvious that they shouldn’t even warrant a bullet point (i.e. #3) but sometimes you learn things the hard way. Or at least I do.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Remember why you do this: the feeling of running in the first Sukoon prototype. Every woman deserves to have that feeling if she wants it. No one can take away what you’ve already built, no matter where it goes. 

  2. A great playlist can turn the moment around. 

  3. Contracts are important. Take time to read them, write them, and stay accountable to them. Make sure you’re ok with the terms. Make sure there’s enough detail in the scope of work. Contracts are important. 

  4. When interviewing someone, don’t be afraid to make them uncomfortable. Startups are the most uncomfortable places to be and seeing a candidate handle an uncomfortable conversation is far more telling than hearing them gush about why they want/deserve the job. 

  5. People will tell you how to spend your time and money, but remember that most people giving you advice have never done what you’re doing. Evaluate their advice but at the end of the day, listen to your gut. Sukoon is your brainchild, your blood, sweat and tears. You might make some wrong choices along the way, but you’ll be way more mad at yourself if you make the wrong choice based on advice you didn’t believe in. 

  6. Build in a 10-12 week buffer. Small team, small company, big goals, only 1 you.

  7. It’s okay to cry on the really hard days. You’ll feel better after you do. 

  8. When things go wrong: pray, do yoga, and eat a salad. You’ll feel so much better after this trifecta. These are the things you can control, and even when everything is out of control, don’t give up on the things that keep you human. 

  9. Read non start-up books, you are allowed to do that.

  10. You are lucky that your dreams look different from what you thought they would be. 

This last one is maybe the most important, and one that I want to remind myself of daily.

When I moved out of suburban Cleveland at the age of 17, the future was bright and sparkly. My dream was to move to The Big City, go to a great school, make incredible and diverse friends (while I love Cleveland, the suburbs are very #white), and get a fancy job at a big non profit. I, aA, was given the opportunity to do all of those things. And as a result, I was fresh out of dreams by 26.

It’s funny how so many of us don’t think about what comes after that 1st job (or the 2nd one…) What are the next steps? Yes, a spouse, a family, kids, maybe. But what about our careers? Our ambitions? Our legacies?

Three years ago, I took a leap into what would become my new path. A wobbly, unsteady one, but a path all the same. I’m more unsure than ever of what the next steps are, but I am still smiling, living and creating what comes next. It’s easy to forget what a privilege it is to have done all the things I wanted to do when I dreamed as big as I could at 17, and to be able to build what I want the future to be, for myself, and for others who look like me. Today, I’m thankful for this new dream of mine.

Cheers to 29, and all the dreams it will bring ✨