Editor's Note: Lately, I've been thinking a lot about women and entrepreneurship and asked Ashley Ambirge to write a post on this topic. Ashley is one of my favorite writers and today she is launching her first ebook: You Don't Need a Job, You Need Guts!
I hope you enjoy the post peeps. And be sure to check out Ashley's blog, The Middle Finger Project.
Woman (noun): 1. The female human being. 2. An adult female person.
A splendid, albeit limited, definition. We know—we've got lady parts.
But what does it really mean to be a woman? In modern times, it's so much more than that. Being a woman these days means HATS. Lots and lots of hats, of all different shapes, sizes & colors—some with bows and feathers, others with a big wide brim, but always varying.
At any given moment, being a woman can mean:
Lead Motorcycle Groupie (you know, if that's your thing)
...and many more, depending on who you are.
Somehow, as women, we manage to wear many hats all at once—sometimes all of them at the same time. We're expert jugglers, making room in our lives for the many demands & requests of others, as a function of our many roles. Because not only are we expected to fulfill all of these roles at once—we're expected to rock the hell out of each one, too.
And, by golly, we do.
We give it our all, laboriously going out of our way to ensure that everyone is happy, that no one is disappointed in us, that we've tied up every possible loose end, and that we don't ever miss a beat.
But there is one role where many of us consistently drop the ball—over and over and over again—yet, quite possibly, it's the most important role of all.
It's the role of you, baby.
You, you, you, you, you, you, you.
We might sometimes get confused and think that we are the sum of the roles that define us, but we aren't; there's another layer there, and that layer is you, just as you are, brilliantly shining like a diamond the moment you're stripped of all of the other layers, all the other roles, all the other responsibilities.
But we're so busy taking care of everyone else's needs, that we forget to peek underneath those layers from time to time to remind ourselves of who we actually are. We continually self-sacrifice, pushing our own needs to the back of our minds, shoving our own wants under the rug, and telling ourselves that there will always be time for us later. Usually because:
Right now, (fill in the blank) comes first.
Right now, (fill in the blank) is more important.
Right now, (fill in the blank) is the priority.
But sooner than later, “right now” turns into later, too, and inevitably so, because the truth of the matter is, that with the responsibility of filling so many roles, there will ALWAYS be someone or something demanding of your time.
And too often, we feel obligated to give it. We're genuine, selfless, altruistic souls, and we generally do want to make those around us happy.
On the flip side of our good intentions, there comes a hidden price to pay. It doesn't only come in the form of our time, but the price we pay also comes in the form of anxiety, angst & restlessness.
After all, working to make everyone happy is one hell of a tall order to fill.
And as that cycle of anxiety, angst & restlessness swirls around your mind, it becomes even more difficult to ever concentrate on the role of you.
But the role of you is important. You are not a martyr. You are a living, breathing, dreaming, yearning human being who has needs, too.
It is in this sense that I've found entrepreneurship to be so empowering.
Unlike a regular job, in which we merely put on another hat and play yet another role toward fulfilling someone else's expectations—that of employee—entrepreneurship awards us the opportunity to pursue something that's meaningful to us, and something that we're passionate about, and acts as a way that we can start fulfilling the role of us. And unlike a mere hobby, there's a financial component involved, helping us not only afford that sexy new pair of Jimmy Choos, but also to justify the time we dedicate to the role of us, enabling ourselves to (finally!) fully engage. (While it's true we shouldn't need a justification, many of us seek one, plain & simple, because otherwise we have this ugly tendency to feel guilty and selfish.)
While you might be thinking, “Girl, you are out of your mind. The last thing I need is to take on the responsibilities of running a business on top of everything else,” that's likely because you're envisioning entrepreneurship in the antiquated sense of brick & mortar, endless hours of grueling work, years of sweat, and accounting. Lots & lots of accounting. Ick. I would bawk at the thought of entrepreneurship, too, if meant all of those things.
But it doesn't have to be that hard anymore.
The digital age has changed all of that—we just haven't fully realized it yet.
Never before has there been an easier way for entrepreneurship to exist—and for women around the world to begin harnessing its powers.
Never before has there been an easier way to segue into the role of you, and not only that, but to make a living being you.
It's possible, thanks to the web, and it's actually relatively simple, too.
Imagine—people all over the world are performing several hundred million search queries every single day. That means that somewhere, someone is searching for you. Somewhere, someone is searching for the answers to questions that you have. Somewhere, someone is searching for knowledge that you have. Somewhere, someone is searching for your ideas, your insights, your perspectives, your opinions. Somewhere, someone is searching for you, crossing their fingers that you exist.
That would imply that at any given time, no matter who you are, there's a demand for you.
Therefore, this would also imply that if you can provide a supply to meet that demand, by giving yourself to the world in the form of information that is sought, magic will happen.
That magic is called profit.
When demand exceeds supply, the result is profit—whether you're running a multi-million dollar corporation, or a small business from your laptop.
In the most basic sense, this is what the new face of entrepreneurialism looks like. And for the many women around the world struggling to find a little bit of themselves in sea of responsibilities to others, this type of digital entrepreneurialism can be a welcome reprieve. It has revolutionalized what it means to do business like never before, allowing you to build a business around YOU—and find some fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace along the way.
In essence, it's one way that you can live up to the role of YOU.
It's one way that you can take control of your life, rather than having your roles control it.
It's one way that you can go beyond society's expectations, and start making your own.
It's one way that you can add to the definition of what it means to be a woman, and show the world what we're made of.
Because right now?
For once, you come first.