How My Chronic Pain Led Me To Entrepreneurship
I have been building businesses since I could talk. Lemonade stands, hair cutting, tutoring, babysitting, if there was a way to structure something into a repeatable action, I was all over it. My parents sent me to an entrepreneurial day camp when I was 8 and I was hooked. Always dreaming, always scheming, always looking for a better way to do things.
It wasn’t until my latest business that I truly began to understand the relationship between this obsession and my chronic pain.
I have lived with chronic pain for most of my life. Before I was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis, I suffered from unexplained chronic pain my entire childhood. Pain that I now understand to be rooted in trauma. But that's another article for another day.
Chronic pain played such a significant role in my life, it only makes sense that it would also influence the ways I moved through the world. Pain that is recurring, constant and inescapable, if nothing else, makes you bloody creative. And fortunately for me it also made me curious.
Always curious about what was happening in my body, what was happening in other people's bodies, why people are the way they are, why we do things the way we do.
There never seemed to be enough time in the day for all my questions. Or the answers.
Through pain and curiosity, my creativity and perseverance bloomed. I used creativity to escape my body. I’d write and design and imagine worlds that were much more beautiful and peaceful than the ones I felt confined to. I’d fill my brain with ideas of ways I could change the world, exploring problems and perpetually searching for solutions.
Becoming an information sponge was a way for me to live inside my mind and outside of my body. The constant quest to escape my body led me to perpetual daydreaming and eventually to becoming a workaholic.
Capitalism not only encourages, but rewards us for leaving our bodies so for a long time this felt like an accomplishment.
I thought that because entrepreneurship gave me autonomy over my time, and thus my schedule that I had solved some sort of unsolvable spoonie riddle. I could just adjust my schedule based on my pain levels. But it turns out that decades of doctors, family and friends invalidating my pain taught me a lot about how to leave myself in pursuit of being perceived as worthy.
Self-betrayal led me to further ignoring, pushing and punishing my body. I was never able to feel success because I was too busy punishing myself for not performing at 100% every waking minute available to me. The inherent competitive nature of entrepreneurship ate me alive and my body just screamed louder and louder until eventually I had no choice but to listen.
In conjunction with some other major life changes, I took a break from entrepreneurship. I worked some casual 9-5's and was swiftly reminded of why that wasn’t an option for me (or anybody with a chronic illness or disability) when I had to call in sick to work multiple times a month. It felt easier to recognize the impacts of capitalism and hustle culture on my body when it was somebody else enforcing it.
This 2 year journey back into the unforgiving workforce was the powerful reminder I needed, that above all else, my body deserves my undying love. So I started prioritizing my health, even if at first only as a big fuck you to my boss who thought I owed him my life in exchange for a job.
For a long time, I believed that chronic pain was something I would spend my entire life trying to escape. But it ended up being the thing that brought me home. To my body, to my truth, to entrepreneurship and eventually to founding somedays.
My truth is that I have an incurable disease. This disease forces me to slow down, to listen to my body, to ask the questions I may have otherwise never thought to ask. What do I need? What is my body telling me right now? Where am I leaving myself for things that don’t serve me or my wellbeing? And most importantly - how can I be of service to others in helping them ask the same questions of themselves.
The skills I built to survive endometriosis and chronic pain are the skills I used to found somedays. So I honor my body and the lessons it so generously provides. I honor my pain - my greatest mentor, with care, with gratitude, and with respect.
Somedays is my own personal celebration of the meeting of my mind and body. Somedays is about respecting the realities and limitations of our bodies while also holding space for what it might look like to lessen those burdens.
Its about acceptance and also recognizing when things are unacceptable. It's about duality. Because if chronic pain has taught me anything it’s that our bodies are capable of many truths and there is always room for pleasure - even when we are in pain.