I’m not going to lie to you- I was popular in high school. I had a great group of friends, I got along with my teachers, and I made good grades. For all intensive purposes, I had it made.
But when I became a business owner, it was as if I had started high school all over again-- this time, as the awkward new kid, possibly even the girl who had been homeschooled for the past 15 years (yes, that was a reference to Mean Girls).
All of a sudden, I was forced into these “networking opportunities”, that were designed with the purpose of making small business owners feel like part of a group, but instead left me feeling shaken and alone. I would walk into a room and immediately feel as though my clothes weren’t trendy enough, my business cards weren’t nice enough, and that I would never have a portfolio as impressive as the ladies sitting across from me.
People would maybe talk to me, but ultimately, they would speak to each other like old friends, and I would duck out in under an hour in hopes of not being noticed (or too harshly judged).
As we began booking higher paying clients and getting more weddings published, I started to hear this voice in the back of my head, that maybe some of these vendors would start to be nicer to me now. Months passed, and I began to gain confidence in our brand.
Then one day, I got invited to a launch party for a fellow wedding pro’s new workspace. Y’all, I felt as though I had finally made it! Our staff of 10+ and 50+ weddings a year hadn’t made me feel like I was enough, but this-- this was going to be my moment.
Like the nerdy girl getting invited to her first high school party, I could barely sleep the night before. I curled my hair, picked out the perfect outfit, and even found out that I had been published in my favorite local publication earlier that day-- things were finally going my way.
I somehow convinced my husband to be my date, and when we got there, all I wanted to do was to hide in my car. We were WAY overdressed, and although there were dozens of professionals in the room that I knew, most of them barely even said hello. I was crushed. All I wanted was to feel accepted, cool, and enough. I had brought my husband, thinking that he would get to meet some of the professionals that I laugh and joke with during wedding weekends-- and here they were, barely acknowledging that they even knew my name.
I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t shed a tear or two on the way home that night, not just for my embarrassment from the evening, but also for the realization that I had probably put girls like me through that same thing at one time or another.
The thing about being cool or popular, is that it’s all a matter of circumstance. I have sat at the “cool kids table”, and in the moment, I didn’t think that the way I treated anyone was rude or wrong. But being on the other side of that table, my eyes were opened to how ‘the other half lives.”
Y’all, here’s the thing. Owning a business is HARD. The hours are long, the days are lonely, and everyone is out there “faking it til we make it”. This is not like high school, where is course is charted for you, and you have an awesome guidance counselor to let you know if you’re going off course. Our fellow girl bosses are all we have as a guide, so can we all please try a little harder to be nice to one another?