Creating this docu-series has been one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. I've met amazing people and learned amazing things. I could probably write an infinite number of posts about the things I've learned from interviewing our #ladybosses, but I'm going to try and distill it down to the top 5, because this is my first blog post, so cut me some slack, haha.
1. Everyone Second Guesses Themselves
I don't know about you, but I used to feel like that little voice in my head would probably disappear once I'd "arrived." And what did "arrived" mean? For me, it always felt like it meant more money, more free time, following my dreams full time, and for some reason, a dream body. I'm sure we all have our own personal list in our head.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but that voice doesn't disappear and that list doesn't matter. That voice doesn't care how much money you make, how you spend your time, how you're making your money, or what your body looks like. In talking to the interviewees, I was blown away by how many of them mentioned that not only did they feel self-doubt when they were starting out, but they currently continued to experience it at times.
But these women were bad asses, I thought to myself. They owned their own businesses. They were inspiring others. Giving back. They dictated how they spent their time. They were following their dreams - and killing it! And they're all insanely gorgeous with amazing personalities. How could they ever have moments of doubt? Because of fear. Because they're human. Because no one wants to fuck up or seem vulnerable. Because it's hard to put yourself out there. And because that voice lies to all of us.
These interviewees were so vulnerable and brave in sharing this with me, and it was so inspiring. It would have been much easier for them to say they always knew what they were doing and felt 100% confident all the time. But that wouldn't have been as interesting (or true).
Listening to these insanely talented women tell me that they have moments of self-doubt was huge. It made me realize I wasn't alone in those thoughts. That you can still pursue your dreams in spite of those thoughts. And, the most useful piece of advice I learned was that while the voice doesn't 100% go away, it does get quieter and less frequent the less you listen to it and the more you go out of your comfort zone.
2. It Is Okay To Start Small
Have you ever felt like everyone was just born with their skillset and talent and you're the only one struggling or feeling dumb? I know I've felt that way. It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others and forget that people don't typically show the messy learning and mistakes along the way. But those are the things I think it's important to show. Important to talk about. Everyone was a beginner once. I have to remind myself of that all the time.
During our interview with the founders of Recycled Barre, they said something that really resonated with me. "It is okay to start small and dream big." They shared with me how they dream of Recycled Barre going nationwide and of it being a household name, but that just because they're not there yet doesn't mean they're not making a difference or that they're not chipping away at that goal. They're taking small, actionable steps while still dreaming insanely big.
3. You Can Teach Yourself Anything
For the longest time I felt like I couldn't really do something unless I had gone to school for it. I saw people all around me doing things different than what they studied in school, but for some reason, that was the narrative I had written for myself. Maybe it was a way to get in my own way, maybe it was because traditional education can be so ingrained in us. Either way, doing this docu-series has shown me that it just isn't true.
Every single woman I spoke to owns a thriving business and did NOT, I repeat, did NOT go to school for business. Sometimes they didn't even go to school for the type of business they own. For example, Audrey Francis, of Black Box Acting, went to school for Journalism. And Black Box Acting is now one of the premiere training schools for actors in Chicago. She's a company member at Steppenwolf. Can you imagine if Audrey had decided she couldn't or shouldn't pursue acting because she went to school for journalism? Or that she couldn't open a training school because she hadn't studied it? We'd all be sorely missing out on a truly amazing place and person. Vichcraft? Jenna Blazevich didn't study fashion design and yet some of her designs are some of my favorite ever. Could you imagine if she didn't create the Nasty Woman products?
Speaking to each of these women opened my eyes to the fact that we are our own best teachers and students. If we truly want to learn something new - we have the means to do it. As long as you have time and the internet, you can learn most things. Unless your dream is to be a doctor or dentist. Then you should most definitely go to school and probably not learn surgery via the internet, haha. But beyond some very specific circumstances, there's very little we can't teach ourselves. Fun fact? I didn't go to school for film. Or journalism. Or writing. In fact, none of the #ladyboss team went to school for film. But here we are, making this thing the best way we know how and I couldn't be prouder.
4. You Don't Need Permission From Anyone But Yourself
I spent a lot of time waiting for people to give me permission to follow my dreams. I thought that once I got a certain audition, it meant I was "allowed" to be an actor. That once I received a certain recognition, it meant I was "allowed" to be a filmmaker, a writer, a creator. Guess what? This permission never came and I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated.
I used to feel really alone in this feeling. All around me, I felt like I saw people chasing what appeared to be their dreams with reckless, wild abandon. Before I interviewed our ladybosses, I made the assumption that all of them were that type of person. The risk-thriving entrepreneur, the "jump and the net will appear" type of people. I assumed they never felt they needed permission.
You can imagine my surprise when so many of them described exactly how I had felt. A lot of them described wanting to follow their passion but feeling unqualified, like they needed permission from others. Again, I felt like I had an out of body experience. But they're here doing the damn thing, I thought. Clearly they didn't need permission.
But I learned that this feeling is just another form of doubt. And we all experience it. And it's okay. It's okay to be scared, it's okay to feel unqualified, or like you're not "allowed." But do you know what's not okay? Listening to it. Because the only person you need permission from is yourself.
One thing all of the interviewees had in common is that at some point they decided fuck it; I'm doing it. And they did! It doesn't make it any less scary. But they explained to me that with each milestone they crossed, it became less and less scary. The thing they used to be afraid of didn't seem that bad because it was in the past now. It was crossed off their list. It was onto the next scary thing. And with each thing they moved past, their confidence increased. So if you are feeling this way - remember, you are in charge of your life. You get to give yourself permission. And I will be rooting for you the whole damn way.
5. Everyone Is Rooting For You (and you owe NOTHING to anyone who isn't)
Speaking of rooting for others, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. All the good people are totally, 100% rooting for you..
This was something else I used to think: What if I try to create this docu-series and fuck up? What if I look dumb? If I'm not that good at asking questions, at interviewing people, at listening? I have zero experience in this thing I'm trying to do. Everyone will totally think I'm a fraud. Everyone is just waiting for me to mess up. But it's just not true. I promise you.
During the Recycled Barre interview, both Barbara and Dianne spoke about this. They said they were afraid people would think they were stupid, that the idea was dumb, and they were blown away by how many people were the exact opposite. They talked about feeling nothing but support and encouragement from the people they shared the Recycled Barre idea with. A lot of the interviewees had this exact same experience. It doesn't mean you won't have people who will doubt or question; but you owe NOTHING to them. If they're not supporting you or encouraging you - show them door.
Everyone wants you to succeed. And if you mess up, it's 100% okay because you are human and you are a #ladyboss.
What have you learned from the ladybosses in your life? Share your favorite from the list below!