I struck out on my own in terms of business earlier this year. I had always done some design work on the side, but relocating cities and leaving my out-of-home job to work from home while raising my girls was the perfect recipe for me to jump all in and make my dream a reality. My design and marketing company was born and the work quickly started to pour in. This wasn’t surprising given my background in sales and business development – especially when you factor in my no-holds-barred type of approach to everything I do. To put it mildly, I have a history of getting stuff done no matter what it takes.
I certainly haven’t made up for the entire income that I lost when I had to give up my full-time marketing gig in manufacturing, but I haven’t done badly by any means. I’m unabashedly proud of myself, and I have no doubts that my husband and parents are, too. I wanted to do something, so I did it. This is the message and example that I have always wanted to send my children.
So, what a surprise I was given when a 2-hour drive back to the city to meet with a client became the subject wherein everyone who had previously been cheering me on suddenly became my biggest doubters. All because I had to drive a car by myself 2 hours away in one day. A drive that I had made a million times over to a city which had previously been my home for nearly a decade.
My mom: “Do you need to me to go along? I can go along so that you don’t have to drive by yourself. I don’t mind sitting in the office and watching movies on the iPad while you work.”
Despite my solid, “No, Mom. That couldn’t be any more unprofessional. I’m fine,” statements (and a lot of teeth gritting on my part), she continued to ask and ask and ask every day. Like someone sticking their finger in an open sore until it’s oozing and bleeding. Until, finally, one evening while sitting at the kitchen table discussing my business with my husband, the subject finally came to its grizzly end.
“Do you need me to drive with you, Sam?” my husband, Tim, asked me. “Are you confident that you can make the trip alone?”
Those two little sentences were finally enough to set my three-alarm-temper blazing, and I’m not necessarily proud of my reaction regarding the subject, but ultimately, it all needed to be said.
Yes, my husband. Yes. I am confident that I can drive a car 2 hours north, meet with my client, and then drive it 2 hours south again at the end of the day.
I am as confident as you are when you make your 4-hour roundtrips 2-3 times a week out-of-state to visit jobsites. Alone. On a highway without so much as a gas station to stop at should you have trouble.
I am as confident making this trip alone as I was when I left the farm for literally the very first time in 19 years to attend college four hours away in an unfamiliar city where I knew no one.
I am as confident making this drive as I am when I saddle up a young, green horse for its very first time.
I am confident because of who I was raised to be and who I’ve become.
But most importantly: I am simply just confident.
I understand that my parents’ and my husband’s doubts weren’t necessarily coming from a bad place. We worry about each other. That’s a given. Worry is a natural feeling that shows we care. But (and this is a big but), BUT, the fact of the matter is that my husband has never been asked if he was confident he could make a jobsite trip alone. My parents would never offer to drive along with him and sit in a client’s office while he worked. This subject has not and likely will not ever actually be a subject in his life for the sole reason that he is a HE.
Like it or not, you can’t deny the fact that a man would never be asked this question. And that is what I have issue with. As I was showing my girls what a good work ethic looks like – what a woman-owned business can do – they were simultaneously being taught to doubt themselves by the people who love them the most.
Our girls – the girls of the world – have self-deprecating thoughts imbedded into their beings from birth. Regarding their looks. Regarding their weight. Regarding their intelligence. And their abilities. And everything in between.
It has been said that the same-sex parent has the most influence in a child’s life. For me, I know that was true. My mom undoubtedly held the biggest influence over me and honestly, still does. If the same ends up holding true for my girls, then I have to put a barrier between us and the doubters now – while they’re still young and the damage is minimal.
And so the barrier goes up between me and the doubt that I’ll be ok making a 2-hour drive alone.
I bet you can all guess what happened a few days later when my dad asked if I would be ok driving to the city without Tim … let’s just say, we almost had to call the fire department.