How Entrepreneurship Helped Me Find My Real Calling
Completing my business and marketing studies at a renowned French business school, I established a freelance digital marketing and content creation agency. I was determined to succeed. Making the transition from being a freelance content creator into a full-time agency owner, I expected to continue doing what I had been doing but with collaborators and at a larger scale.
I loved writing, creating visual content, and exploring new industries. This was the primary reason that had prompted me to start freelancing. Starting an agency seemed a logical next step to me. Hence, I took the challenge and started my agency.
Running a business was completely different from being a freelancer
I had to learn how to negotiate, how to ask for help, manage people, and convince them that I provided something worth buying. I had to “WOW” the customers while making sure that my team did the same. Additionally, I had to comply with all legal requirements. I had to manage various risks.
The list went on.
Facing a myriad of difficulties, making a couple of mistakes, iterating, at last, I got my long-awaited success. As paradoxical as it may sound though, the moment the agency started to make profits, I realized that I was on the wrong path. I realized that, for some reason, I despised my success.
I’ve realized that I had become a result-driven robot. What was devastating was that my professional objectives did not reflect my inner motivators. I did not enjoy what I was doing: I found it tedious and unworthy of my time.
At that point, I suffered from a pernicious feeling that I was wasting my brains and creativity. In retrospect, I know I was doing “the right things” and the discipline was fascinating. The issue was that I was not doing what was right for me. My actions were not in congruence with my personality.
As a kid, I was an experimenter, an adventurer, and a dreamer. I was fascinated with art and science. Curiosity about the underlying mechanisms of our world was my chief stimulus. I could spend hours playing on my own — drawing, solving mathematical puzzles, creating my own characters and communicating with them.
I’d daydream about the inventions that I wished to make and the trips that I hoped to take. I was determined to become either an artist or a scientist. However, I had two other traits which, later on, deterred me from doing what I felt was right for me.
I was too sensitive and my sense of dignity was overdeveloped. I dreaded making mistakes and for me, asking for help was the hardest thing ever. Because of these peculiar characteristics, when the time for choosing my college major came, I shut my inner voice, gave in to my tenuous self-esteem, and made a decision based on what I considered “logical reasoning”.
Thinking that perhaps, I was not talented enough for art and not inventive enough for science and doubting that either art or science could help me develop the skills indispensable for becoming financially independent, I decided to choose business as a major — a safe haven. Back then, it seemed like a wise decision. I was adept at rationalizing anything. Thus, I tricked myself to believe that I was doing the right thing.
What a mistake!
After entering college, I was enthralled to explore a new field. However, starting from the sophomore year, I got anxious. I realized that the field that I was studying did not challenge me. I started to take courses from other departments — computer science, mathematics, arts and so on. Academically, I was an achiever. I worked part-time and everything went smoothly.
Nevertheless, I was not content and my anxiety continued. It seemed as though I was trying to lead a race, but I did not need the winner’s trophy. In fact, I had no desire to compete but something prevented me from leaving the race. Even under these circumstances, instead of realizing that the simple reason for my dissatisfaction was that I had put myself somewhere I did not belong, I ascribed the fault to external factors.
Founding my business caused me to experience the greatest “A-ha” moment of my life
Having loops of failure and success, facing hurdles, coping with them, and cultivating self-confidence in myself, I realized that even though I seemed to have figured out the formula of success, I was miserable. From the very beginning, choosing a discipline based upon my fears and doubts rather than my core values and personality, I had put myself in a wrong place.
Essentially, I emulated the actions of people who appeared to have succeeded in my field, but I missed the crucial point. I was somewhere I did not belong. Failures that I experienced when doing business hardened me while success raised my self-esteem. Thus, I learned to be in harmony with myself.
I was reborn.
I realized that giving in to my hidden fears, I had taken the common path instead of listening to my heart. That is, I tried to do what the world eulogized instead of doing what motivated me and in which I had real faith.
After running the agency for less than a year, I sold it, applied, and got accepted to a Master of Engineering program. Then, I created my art portfolio. I dared to follow my passion and never looked back. I knew I could face difficulties but I knew I would never ever betray myself and let my fears take control over my life.