Becoming a Startup Person

It’s February, which means by now most of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. Take me, for example. In 2016, I resolved to eat better, exercise regularly, read more and—in the interest of full disclosure—boost my femininity. And in respect to each of these, I have consumed my weight in brownie batter, I’ve exercised twice, I’ve read 30 pages from Jane Austen’s“Emma,” and I have cut my hair in the same style as Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.” In short, I’m off to a rocky start.

But despite all this, there is one resolution I have tried desperately to keep, and that resolution is to get out of retail. Like many post-millennials, I have spent the last three years since college graduation working one retail job after another out of necessity. This year, I decided enough is enough. I’m determined to escape the retail trap, however long that process may take, and I’m going to become what I’ve wanted to be for nearly all my life: a writer.

One may wonder why, if I’ve dreamed of being a writer for so long, I’m just now beginning to pursue this goal. I could argue that I simply haven’t had the time. I could say that, between work and marriage and my social life, I haven’t had the energy to maintain a blog or submit to a literary journal. I could make any number of excuses, really. But when all has been exhausted, the only excuse I am left with is that I’ve been afraid.

That’s something I very recently learned about myself: I’m afraid, or more specifically, afraid of making mistakes. I’ve spent my entire life avoiding situations in which I could do something wrong; it’s a form of self-preservation. But I’m learning that sometimes making mistakes is unavoidable, even necessary. Mistakes are what help us to learn, move on and grow. To try to avoid making mistakes can prevent you from ever attempting to accomplish anything worthwhile, even if it’s something you’ve wanted for nearly all your life.

Ayumi Bennett, Startup Southerner’s founder, gives a wonderful definition of what a startup person is. The startup person, as she explains it, isn’t necessarily the owner of a business-in-utero. Rather, she is one who gets up every morning and wants to find a way to disrupt life, to make a change.

I interpret this definition of the startup person as someone who is brave. The startup attitude requires risk. One must be willing to challenge oneself and others to achieve something great. One must be willing to make mistakes.

So my goal this year is to be a startup person, to pursue my dreams despite fear of making mistakes, to learn, to innovate, and to achieve.

Here’s to doing great things in 2016. Here’s to being brave. Here’s to being a Startup Southerner.