How My Dad Ruined My Life and Why The Word "Little" Is Terrible
I haven't told you this before, but when I was little my dad completely ruined my life.
There are many moments that could have been the moment that he ruined my life. It could have been when he made me ride the bus to school in my cheerleading uniform. It could have been the time that he made me stack wood for hours in the cold so that I could go to a dance with a boy he didn't like. It could have been the precise moment when I was a toddler that he jokingly told me to "put an egg in your shoe and beat it!" and I burst into tears because I thought that I literally had to place raw eggs in my tiny Keds.
No. This moment was much worse. The moment that my dad completely ruined my life forever was when I found out that he was his own boss.
Also, hi Dad. I know that you read this. Your limit is one embarrassing comment on this post. I will hold you to it.
I actually remember the exact moment that I found out my dad was his own boss. I want to say it was BS (before Steven), but he could have been a ball of pudge during this memory. Not 100% sure. If this was BS or the era of pudge-puddle-baby-Steven that means that the oldest I could possibly be in this memory is 6. You know, not a super reliable age for accurate memory recall. Whatever. I remember sitting at the dinner table when my dad mentioned something about his workday to my mom. I looked at him and said something along the lines of what did your boss say? I didn't know much about work at the time (some things never change amirite?!), but I did now that it happened in offices with lots of coffee and that there were bosses. My dad said well, I am the boss and my brain lit up. I think that this was the moment that I realized that somebody out there had to be the boss. This was also the moment that I remember so vividly because I remember realizing that I wanted to be the boss.
I've always been so inspired by people who do their own thing. I wouldn't say that I glamorize it- I know that it's hard fucking work. I saw my dad work many late nights and weekends. I see my friends getting up at 5 AM to hammer out details on projects before they go off to pitch new clients. I see my friend Karen driving all over the city taking beautiful photos to build her business. I see my friend Lisa literally never sleeping but flying all over the country with her makeup kit in hand so that she can make shit happen. I look at my friends Jess and Dawn who run Just Add Yoga talking to everybody they can to curate amazing events. I don't undervalue the amount of hard work, hours, and emotion that goes into doing your own thing. There's just something about entrepreneurs and people who run their own businesses that just gets me so jazzed. I also think that my dad ruined me because I grew up thinking that this was so wildly normal. That everybody was their own boss. I grew up thinking, and ultimately knowing, that I would be that person one day. It might have looked pretty spontaneous from the outside, but this has been part of a long goal. A strong inner desire.
I am not what you would call a patient person. I like to get shit done and I like for it to be done a particular way. I will pack the shit out of my day and join your club and help you with your project because I like to make things happen and I like to make them happen now. This is not always a particularly great trait, but that's for another blog post. My impatience drives me to doing my own projects because I just can't wait to do something when I'm inspired. I just can't wait to help people or to make something happen. The bad part about this feeling is that, once you get a taste of that feeling, it can be challenging to feel enthused about working on anything that doesn't get you that excited.
A few months ago I was up late working on a project for Donuts + Down Dog. Donuts + Down Dog gets me so excited that sometimes when I start talking to people about it I feel like I am yelling/dancing because my enthusiasm is bursting out of my eyeballs. I realized that I was spending a full day at my office job, then coaching rowing for a few hours, then coming home to work on my own business before bed. I had like... negative zero free hours. It was time to do the damn thing. I had been planning and planning and creating new projects and journaling about where I wanted to be and I realized that it was time to just fucking do it. To rip off the bandaid and just figure this shit out. I put in my notice from one of the best teams of people I've ever worked with and started the countdown. Shit was happening, dudes.
But then something really annoying started happening.
People started using the word "little" to describe what I was doing. A lot.
You're so lucky that your husband has a good job and you can do this little thing!
Would you ever say this to a man? If the situation were the exact same switched around? Or would you say wow, congrats on leaving your job to run your business! You probably wouldn't express thankfulness that his wife had an income he could rely on. You would just trust that he would get that shit done.
How is your little blog doing?
My blog is doing great! But it's actually not little, its an amazing community of thousands of readers (who I am super thankful for) and growing every day.
Are you working on any fun little projects right now?
I'm planning a few big events and I do have some really big exciting things launching this summer. Are you doing any fun little accounting projects, Harold?!
I started hearing the word little all the time. Everywhere. Little implies that these things don't have value behind them. That they aren't going anywhere. That they are too small to care about. I realized that people were doing it to my friends, too. My powerful, strong, badass, fucking smart, entrepreneurial, hustling, *enter more adjectives here*, female friends. Every single person was belittling what we were doing. Even a Facebook friend of mine who has started a fucking national movement. People were asking here if her company was a non-profit. Because apparently are businesses are not only small, but they also shouldn't make any money. Because, you know. We're women. And we should like... take care of people and cross our ankles when we sit down and not make any money and do these things just for giggles and thank god we have husbands with good jobs so that we can have these fun little projects. You know?!?!
I am working so hard to remove the word LITTLE from my vocabulary. I realized that I do this too much. I will call my events little or refer to a client as little and I'm just making the problem worse. Because what I am doing is not little. Whatever you are doing is not little! I don't care if you literally started it this morning. Maybe you woke up at the exact perfect moment in your universe and realized suddenly that you need to leave your job and knit sweaters for hairless cats for rest of your life (that's amazing, please send me one). Your dream is not little. Your life is not little. That goal of yours is not little. It is big and loud and amazing. It might be weird and people might not understand it, but that's OK. That still doesn't mean that it's little.
If you were to leave your job as a Human Resource Manager to become a top Etsy seller of sweaters for hairless cats people might not understand it. I recently had to explain ride-sharing apps to my parents because they didn't understand how you could send money from phone to phone. My parents might not totally get it (hi again, Dad!), but those ride-shares make a giant-butt-load of money. Your exclusive line of cat clothing might not make sense to your attorney uncle, but he doesn't have to understand what you do. Here's the thing. You don't have to understand that I do. Social media and online companies can be confusing. But what I do is a business. I make money. I'm not relying on my husband in terms of my business. Neither are the other women that I know. If somebody is doing something that you absolutely don't understand, you don't need to belittle it. We don't need to use the word "little" to describe the work that we are doing.
Also, it is not a bad thing that I fucking love what I do and that I get paid for doing it. I love this work so much. I love connecting with other women and active humans and collaborating. I love making people feel like they have a place that they belong, to make them feel empowered by their choices, and for them to fall in love with their bodies- lumps and all. It's not a bad thing that I get paid for this and that I work hard to get paid well. It's actually awesome. It is not a bad thing that my friends have amazing food companies and fitness brands and are still raking in well-earned salaries. I think that as a society we tend to think that oh, if she's happy and she loves what she does, she probably isn't getting paid. It's not wrong to get paid. It is not wrong to ask for money to do something even if you really love it. I once quit a yoga studio job because they weren't paying me what other studios were paying me. I asked for a raise, they declined, and so I decided that I needed to leave. Do I love teaching yoga? FUCK YES! Do I like paying my bills and being able to buy Maxi the nice dog food without feeling bad about it? ALSO YES.
My dad ruined my life in the best possible way. While it sucked at the time, I'm even glad that he made me stack wood all those years ago, because I secretly believe that it helped me build the abnormal strength that propelled my rowing career. Despite the myriad of embarrassing things that he's done to me across the past three decades, I'm so thankful that somebody in my life taught me from (LITERALLY) day one that I could do the damn thing. That I was capable of chasing my goals with crazy eyes and wacky hair and that the work I'm doing isn't small.
And you, my dear friend, with your multi-million dollar knits conglomerate for animals born without hair (or, hey, whatever lights you fire) can also do the damn thing. And it's not small. It's pretty fucking rad.
Now let's go get to fucking work,