I'm back from a brief blog hiatus after a wonderful and terrifying two week vacation and I look at the calendar and suddenly realize that it's a year. It's a year since I left my old job, a year since I ventured out on my own, a year of terror and sheer joy and incredible happiness and tears and laughter and so much success and so much failure.
When I tried to decide what to write about this week, I had a different topic planned. But the words just wouldn't come. Instead I started thinking about how thankful I am for where I am today, how different everything was a year ago and about everything that happened in between.
And so this blog post was born. It's written for my one-year-ago self - a list of comforting thoughts and hard truths and encouraging, loving words that I would have desperately needed. Maybe you need it right now. This is why I write this up. (This is why I write anything, really. Because if it just helped one single person it was worth it.)
Dear Hanna Lisa,
you're shattered right now, I know. You put your heart and soul into this, and now you feel like you're left with nothing. Worse, even. You're sitting here, thinking "How on earth could this have gone so wrong?" and you're angry. So angry. And scared.
You're alternating between "Oh my god, I have no idea what I want to do with my life" and "Finally! There's no better gift than time to figure out what I want to do!". Mornings are hard. You drink too much coffee, and you read too many self-help blog posts.
I know how you feel right now. But ...
1. You are going to be fine.
Really. Like - fine doesn't even cut it. You are going to be glorious. You are going to be so happy like you've never been before. You are going to wake up in the mornings and can't WAIT to get to work (Remember those days? Yeah, me neither.). You are going to look at your life and feel guilty because you are so fucking lucky. And you are going to feel like a walking cliché, but trust me - you are going to be fine.
2. You will be patient. Because you need to.
I won't tell you you're going to figure out what you want to do with your life and where your path will lead you in the next two months. Heck, not even in the next six. After seven, a little bit of the fog will have lifted and you might be able to glimpse the tiniest idea of a path. At twelve months in, you are going to make your first two months plan. I know that you're laughing at me right now because you've never been the patient kind. But trust me, this is something you'll learn. You're going to have a lot of help learning this, but you are going to force yourself to work through the uncertainty and insecurities and the fog and you are going to learn how to be patient with yourself.
3. Trust your gut.
No one - I repeat, no one - can do this work for you. This figuring out what your dreams are and where your passions lie and what you want do with your life? This is HARD. And it's WORK. And it's going to hurt. Your best guide? Your gut. And an inner compass that is "Does this make you happy?" If your answer is no, don't do it. Say no to the project. Say no to the client. Say no to your mom, even. Listening to and trusting your gut is going to be another exercise in patience, because we have un-learned how to listen to it. It will take you months until you finally trust that feeling in your stomach. And even at 12 months in, you won't be very good at it - but you're getting better, and that's what counts.
4. Surround yourself with cheerleaders.
You're going to learn SO MUCH about yourself in these next months - and one of the key lessons is going to be that you need to be without people to recharge. But don't be mistaken - this does not mean you don't need people. You need them more than ever before. You need people in your life who believe in you even when you don't, who tell you that you're going to find the right path, who cheer you on from the side lines and who might even carry you a part of the way. Find these people. Allow them to help you when you need it. And then, one day, you'll be strong enough to carry them.
5. Be prepared that people won't get it.
Oh, you lucky soul. Until now everything has always been smooth and people understood what you were doing, even if they didn't necessarily agree with your choice. Be prepared that people won't get what you are doing. Be prepared that they make fun of you. And be prepared that this is going to hurt, even if it's people you couldn't care less about. But honestly - you are going to get better at not giving a fuck about this. At selecting whose opinion matters to you and whose doesn't. Because at the end of the day, you get to wake up happy and fulfilled and maybe, just maybe, these people make fun of you because what you're doing - figuring out what you really want to do - makes them look at their own life and they end up feeling empty and hollow.
6. You're going to suck at things. And you're going to be brilliant at others.
You're going to learn how to be humble. Which, honestly, is something you're quite bad at. The next year is going to teach you how marvellous it feels when you're succeeding at something that you built with your own hands, and how shitty it feels when your dreams don't work out. You're going to learn SO MUCH - be mindful of treasuring the fact that you are learning and be patient with yourself and reflect and laugh about yourself. That's always a good idea.
7. You're going to meet the most amazing community in the world.
This knitting thing you have going on and that makes some people think you're a hippy? This is going to be your life saver. You are going to meet so many amazing women who run their own businesses or who just enjoy doing what they love by engaging with this community that you won't believe it. The kindness and heart and compassion and love and support these people have for each other and how they are going to welcome you with open arms is going to amaze you over and over again.
8. It will be so worth it.
I know that you're asking yourself right now if you should just go for the easy option - go for another startup job. Don't. It's going to be hard, yes, but it's going to be the most rewarding journey of your life. In 12 months you're going to look at yourself and you're going to LIKE yourself. You like the person you've become, you feel more like yourself than ever before, you feel like you can be good to people, you feel like you finally are the partner, friend, daughter, sister that you want to be. THIS is how you're supposed to feel. Your life is not supposed to be centered around KPIs and setting targets and managing projects. Your life is supposed to be centered around the people you love and the relationships you're building with them and how you help make the world a better place.
Now go, put your neon-pink lipstick on, and conquer the world.