Updated: May 23, 2022
I am a psychotherapist who is passionate about understanding the beauty and complexity of being human, and like many of you reading this article, I am a founder.
I can remember, vividly, the moment when I made the decision to build a company. I was 32 years old, a single mom and working as a counselor at a local non-profit. I didn’t have any experience in business but my father was an entrepreneur and my grandfather had been one as well. I didn’t really have the bliss of ignorance as I had heard the stories of hardship and witnessed, first hand, the struggles.
I knew becoming a founder would be hard, that it would challenge me, test me, push me and surprise me. And, yet, I also knew it was possible and the experience might just be worth it.
The moment that I decided to take my idea and turn it into a business, I was standing barefoot, with a cup of coffee in my hands, in the middle of my kitchen, wrestling with fear and doubt. And, in the span of one deep breath, I acknowledged to myself, “I prefer to experience the sting of failure than the regret of never having chased this dream at all.”
That was my defining moment, the day I decided to become an entrepreneur.
Has it been worth it? Absolutely
Also true? It's almost cost me my mental health
The truth about entrepreneurship is that it will push you up against all of your edges, your boundaries, your identity, your sense of value and your sense of self. It will cause you to question your worth, your purpose, your significance. It will tempt you to obsess, to work too hard and sleep too little. It will isolate you and disconnect you from the people you love. It will trigger your trauma and torment you with doubt. It will exacerbate mental health vulnerabilities and dysregulate your brain and body.
The Other Truth
It can change you, transform you, and expand you. It can widen your sense of possibility and deepen your trust in your capacity. It can be your sacred calling, inviting you to transcend and self-actualize. It can move you, transport you and send chills through your body. It can delight you and excite you. It can change the way you see the world. It can change the world.
So how do we navigate these complicated truths without sacrificing our mental health?
Find a place of belonging - a compassionate framework that can hold you, guide you and pick you up off the floor. A space that pushes you to be brave and celebrates your vulnerability. A place to do your own work in the good company of others doing theirs.
I was fortunate to find my place of belonging within the coworking movement. Not just one particular coworking space, but within a community of changemakers seeking to find their way forward through the art and science of connection. My compassionate framework and support system was the community of care I co-created with others just like me - the founders, entrepreneurs, healers, changemakers and the dreamers.
Coworking saved me and it saved my mental health because it wasn’t just about the desks and the workspace, it was about love, shared vulnerability and a sense of belonging.
I like to say that Coworking found me at the most serendipitous moment. When I was just learning how to become an entrepreneur, I discovered a business model that was designed to center the human experience, not the transactions. Its core values being: Community, Connection, Openness, Sustainability, Inclusivity and Collaboration.
And, wrapped up in those values, it delivered the best gift a founder can ever receive: a place of belonging and a community that believed in me as strongly as I believed in them.
This month, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, give yourself the gift of asking for support. Find a coworking community near you, join a founder support group, seek out a trusted mentor, or find a therapist.
Because, my friends, a sense of belonging does a founder good.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I am on a mission to raise awareness and normalize the prioritization of mental health in entrepreneurship. Therefore, I have compiled a list of comprehensive resources for founders, as a part of the #Tools4Founders Project. Founders can find programs, articles, podcasts and tips to support their mental health. My intention is that these resources serve as an injection of support for founders that will have a positive ripple effect throughout our society.
Founders can explore what mental health support would like with me in a free fifteen minute consult.