My husband, ever since I met him, has been an entrepreneur. That’s a fancy word for he is his own boss.
It is a scary thing to have your own business. I work for big companies that are less risky. But Chris tells me “Without the risk you don’t get the reward.” I have had to learn to steel my nerves with him as my partner. But he’s been proven right again, so many times. I have had to learn to be able to tolerate risk.
As I think back, though, the biggest risk of my life I took before I met him: the year before, as a matter of fact.
At 25 years of age, I’d never felt older. On my birthday I was staring down what I felt was a failure of a life. I hadn’t finished college–which was supposed to have been completed three years earlier— and I’d had a series of extremely low-level jobs.
In 1997 in Silicon Valley the most glaring losers could be millionaires. Not me; I was left with nothing but loserland. How far I had to go to catch up! I had to get to the starting line to get moving as soon as possible just to be on the map.
Nothing mattered until I got to the starting line. And the starting line was YEARS in the future, because it started at the END of the graduation line with a diploma.
I had gotten a little rag, though, to cover my shame. I got it because I hadn’t fulfilled some prerequisites to get into the University and missed the deadline…moving the starting line even further back. I basically wandered into an interview and got this internship at NASA.
Once that happened, people started to treat me different. It covered up some of the loser underneath. I could at least have a shred of pride while I finally got entrance into being a college student again.
I did all the paperwork and THIS time I passed. I got my acceptance letter into the University of California. SO, that fall I could finally get back on track to be a college graduate.
Because that is what everybody did. That is what everyone said everyone did. Get a degree! I wanted one. I wanted to go to university full time and live there and do all the college-y things.
But I was so far behind. And I was really enjoying what I was learning at my internship. Thing is, the people at NASA said “you can go look for a job now!”
In fact, they said they wouldn’t even call my last year of employment an internship. They would cover for me and just say I’d worked there almost like i had real experience.
Spring arrived. I had my acceptance to University, the thing I had dreamed of since I was 17. And so did this opportunity. I had this vague idea that maybe I could skip to the head of the line and have a career. I’d worked at NASA! If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere! astonauts and rockets!
I was terrified, but I wanted it. I wanted to cross the START line and have a chance at that finish line. I wanted it so bad, and I wasn’t at all sure that I could get it..
May landed me in unemployment land. I chicken-scratched a resume, and I was sure I didn’t know what I was doing. Every day I felt the teeth of this risky choice. College was what I was supposed to do. This was unknown and impossible territory.
By July I had a job. A temp job, but I’d done it. I made it. I was endowed with a name badge and a business casual wardrobe.
The biggest risk of my life, and in hindsight it wasn’t a risk at all. Hindsight is wonderful, isn’t it?
I’ve never once regretted my decision. Chris knows it; he brings it up when I express concern over some risk or other. But he doesn’t have to nearly so often anymore.