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What I learned about embracing change from working at a startup company

By ALAHNA SY Published Feb 10, 2020 5:00 am

When someone on a startup team realizes that something about the business is not working or viable, the next step is to pivot. Meaning, a significant business change when the product or service doesn’t meet the demands of the market — if there’s any at all.

I should know; I worked at a tech startup writing copy for a little while.

I’ve made several pivots in the past few years. Except that I call them leaps of faith — essential changes I’ve made on my own terms (much to my mother’s disbelief), with little to no expectations of how it would turn out. 

Maybe it’s the escapist in me, always itching to do something new, go somewhere new when things aren’t working. But I swear I have better reasons, and somewhere along the way, I have come to learn when it is time to let go, too.

I found myself disillusioned at my startup job, and it came in stages. 

First, denial. The cognitive dissonance was weighing down on me, but I tuned out. Or at least tried to. I’m doing pretty great…right? Everyone was telling me I could be doing more, but I thought they just didn’t get it. 

Then, anger. I felt like a ticking time bomb. I was mad at a lot of things, but mostly at myself. Why did I have to put myself in this position? Why does it seem like the harder I try, the more difficult things become? I was supposed to be good at this.

Then came bargaining. I tried to convince myself to woman up and get shit done despite, well, everything. Maybe just a few more months wouldn’t hurt?

I wouldn’t say I was depressed, but I sure was down in the dumps. The most miserable I’ve felt in a long time. This was when my bathroom breaks had become Bathroom Breakdowns and the last cubicle became my favorite one because the lock was working perfectly and no one could hear me sobbing from the hallway.

It took a long time before acceptance came. But when it did, it was glorious. Sometimes it came slowly, like a slow-burn courtship and I was finally ready to say yes. But one time, it was brutal.

It was a Wednesday, and I couldn’t stop crying. Everyone in the team was being let go because the company was shutting down. There was no prior notice — although we’ve been feeling the tension. For weeks, it felt like something was about to go down. A fuckening, if you will. 

Here’s to leaps of faith and the big moves we’re making for ourselves. The year is just starting, but there’s never really a right time to start living your most wonderful, meaningful life.

A lot has happened since then. I missed a flight for a job I didn’t get, I applied for a job in an industry I swore I’d never get into (ahem, advertising), confronted my toxicity and that in others, took another shot at love, moved into my fifth apartment, and — who would’ve known — put up my own business.

The advertising job was familiar to me, but as much as I want to feel the privilege of having a fancy healthcare package paid for by a big company, I don’t think I can go back to the office life again.

I realized that I’d rather be slaving away on my own terms: at home with my greasy hair and watered down coffee.

Still a long way from where the probinsyana in 2017 wanted to be at when she first moved to the urban jungle that is Metro Manila, but she’s getting there. And that’s what’s more important anyway.

They say anything transformational hurts. The last year almost pulverized me. I know it was one hell of a year for a lot of people, too. We were riddled with challenges that we didn’t think we’d see the end of, and yet… here we are.

My job at the tech startup didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, but it did leave me with a shit-ton of knowledge. Such that in any project, goal-setting always involves setting objectives and key performance indicators (KPI). Objectives, as in the small steps you must take to get to your big goals and KPIs, the things that would help you objectively determine if you already have. 

I do this to my life, too. It has helped me determine which parts aren’t working, which parts to give up or pursue, and of course — if a pivot is necessary.

So here’s to leaps of faith and the big moves we’re making for ourselves. The year is just starting, but there’s never really a right time to start living your most wonderful, meaningful life.