Here's to Letting It All Hang Out
27 years old. Black. Female. Running a business in the “No Days Off,” era where millionaires are made in half the time it used to take and fame is more attainable than government assistance. That’s the not-so-deep introduction to me, Neikita Jackson, literary editor, and bookworm. Now, I’m not your typical 90’s kid. While I may have entered this world in 1991, I’m convinced I was baking in my mama’s belly for a few decades because my soul is about 20 years older than the body that it’s housed in. This presents a problem for me in today’s entrepreneurial realm.
You see, there’s this misconception that to be an entrepreneur, you have to work every second of every day. There are no days off. If you even think of taking a break, you’re lazy, complacent or broke. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’ always work to be done and you certainly can fill every second of your day with one thing from your laundry list of daily tasks. However, taking care of yourself should always be number one on your list. Why? Because none of that other ish is gonna happen if you’re not 100%. Believe me, I learned it the hard way.
Most business owners want to show you the rewards of entrepreneurship, but what they don’t show you is the moments where they’re hanging in the balance. They want to keep you in the dark about the dark clouds that roll through every now and then. For some reason, there is this unspoken rule that entrepreneurs must suffer in silence. Well, I say to hell with that. Here’s to letting it all hang it out.
My days aren’t just filled with clients, like-minded friends, happy hour and networking events. They’re filled with chemotherapy, doctor’s appointments every other day, routine bloodwork, clients, students, professors, research papers, and whatever else is thrown my way in a matter of 24 hours. I’m a lupus patient, program director, administrative assistant, editor and full-time college student. Go ahead, take a second and digest that. It’s a lot, I know.
My days are so jam-packed, I’m surprised I have time to even secure my seatbelt, let alone a client. Most days I want to mentally check out, but, I make it work. It takes an arsenal of alarms and reminders, but it works nonetheless. According to the gazillion business mentors and gurus popping up all over the social stratosphere, I’m supposed to manage all that with my mouth shut and my calendar wide open.
I tried it that way and almost landed in a casket way too early. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what God has in store for me or my business, so I had to figure out a way to self-preserve before I self-destructed. It was literally on my death bed, that I realized, this entrepreneurial life was more than losing sleep and securing the bag. I had to ask myself, what would be the point of either if I ran myself in the grave while doing it.
That’s when I decided entrepreneurship was not to be peer-defined. It was my business, I needed to run it according to my terms. I didn’t have to live up to anyone else’s definition of what entrepreneurship was. In my definition of entrepreneurship, scheduled office hours and at least two days off a week are included. Telling people “no, or not right now” is included. In my entrepreneurship, I am allowed to feel overwhelmed or tired.
Self-care is not selfish. I know that is a bit cliché, but many of us hear this, preach it, and share it on social media, but we don’t get it. We, especially as women, have to truly realize that we matter. Our time matters. Our sleep matters. Our bodies matter. That means not running ourselves into the ground because this person or that person needs our attention. Because there is someone more deserving of our attention, who pays the price and always seems to take the back seat, US.
So, give yourself permission to take a day off. Close your laptop. Turn off your phone and just exist with yourself. Spend time with yourself. Listen to your body when it says it’s tired. Don’t be like me, laying in a hospital bed, listening to the monitor's beep and the saline drip before you decide to take a break. Self-employment shouldn’t mean deployment of self at all cost. Think about it, you’d leave a job if your boss never gave you a single day off or always tossed a month’s work of tasks on your desk and expected it to be done in 2 weeks. So, why do it to yourself?