I have recently celebrated Chloée Catherine Consulting’s fist year of being a live business. I have learnt tremendously in the past year — one being that I am just getting started.
In this post, I reflect on my identity and internalized struggles, and the ways in which they impact my growth as a social entrepreneur.
I have long known that a nine-to-five job would not satisfy me. I have also come to realize that nothing provides me more satisfaction than establishing my own work goals, and ultimately working for myself. I want to be in charge of my own future, and I already have a clear image of what that could look like. I acknowledge, in many workplaces, employees are given the flexibility and freedom that I am striving for, and I do not want to disregard this.
This is honestly not who I aspire to be.
I am instead establishing myself as a social entrepreneur, and it always thrills me when I think of this.
While I still have yet to unpack the term ‘social entrepreneurship’ at its full extent, I have quickly recognized that identifying as an entrepreneur is the next logical step for me.
I know for certainty though that changes I want to inflict in society can (and will) be achieved through social entrepreneurship.
Up until a few years ago, the thought of launching my own business seemed quite foolish and too intimidating of a task.
I did not have any sustainable work experience. I lacked the skills to independently run any type of business. Most importantly, however, I convinced myself that the business I launched, as a disabled womyn, would never thrive or prosper.
As I look back on my journey, I recognize fear and the self-infliction of barriers preventing me from actually realizing my potential as a founder and/or co-founder.
I volunteered and worked for a nonprofit organization that was housed in a co-working space. It was during this time that I met incredible folks who calmed my fears and provided me with a platform to pursue my wildest dreams in my professional life.
I am not certain that these folks realize the magnitude of their actions and words in my life, but its entire course exponentially shifted accordingly. I was taught that my lived experiences matter and my ideas should be validated.
My first summer at this co-working space offered me a glimpse into the daily lives of social entrepreneurs — flexibility, growth, freedom. It also allowed me to contemplate potential challenges that such entrepreneurs faced on a daily basis.
It was there that I quickly realized my self-inflicted barriers could not be validated by my disability, because these were among many of the challenges faced by everyone I encountered.
Then it settled in.
I could be an entrepreneur.
I waited until the completion of my undergraduate degree before developing the concept for my first business, and then completely delved into its planning and implementation during the summer of 2019.
It took me approximately seven months to feel confident in launching my first venture — a consulting business.
The planning and implementation processes were filled with fear, guilt, and even shame. I wish I could proudly state that these feelings have, since then, successfully vanished.
But they have not, and I am still frequently haunted by this tiny voice saying:
‘You are not made for this life; stop pretending to be someone else.’
I take my work extremely seriously.
Folks who personally know me will probably attest to the fact that I am an overachiever and a workaholic.
I will not deny this. These labels are very accurate, but I believe it is a result of the undeniable fact that I am a disabled womxn.
I struggle with the internal expectation that I need to achieve for perfection to become validated as a social entrepreneur.
I feel as though I always need to prove myself — not as a social entrepreneur, but rather a disabled social entrepreneur.
And ultimately, prove that I can succeed in spite of my disability.
For as long as I can remember, I have believed that folks would attribute all mistakes and/or oversights to my disability.
I recognize this does not make any sense, but it is the predominant reason I always strive for the absolute best.
If I ever excel in tasks, it is simply because I fear my work not taken seriously otherwise.
As a founder of a consulting business, as well as a founder of an online platform, perfecting and overachieving are honestly two of the most disabling barriers that I encounter on a daily basis.
I spend so much time ensuring my content and products reflect the best of my capabilities before officially launching them.
Do not get me wrong now. I love putting time into my two ventures and, aside from my work as a graduate student, they are prioritized incredibly high in my daily life. But.
(And this is a significant but.)
I am constantly exhausted by self-inflicting discouragements. I will rise one day though.
I can just feel it.
Until then I will embrace this journey — again, I do really love it.
And I cannot wait to see where it leads.
Did you know? I am an Accessibility and Disability Consultant
Through Chloée Catherine Consulting, I help business owners, corporations, private entities, and the travel industry foster inclusive spaces within their own environments. Visit thinkbeyondaccess.com for more information.