I was madly in love. My heart was full of butterflies and my mind was consumed with the possibilities every day brought. Late nights flew by filled with coffee and racing thoughts. It was effortless. I found my true love…or so my 18-year old mind thought. First loves do that.
Oh did I forget to mention this grandiose love story is about falling in love with my startup?
We met in my Freshman dorm room at college one spontaneous night. From the moment we met, I knew it was something incredible and instantly gushed to all my friends. We traveled the country together. From coast-to-coast, we met amazing new friends and memories I will never forget. Inside jokes, new traditions, and highs I had never felt before. Friends and mentors selflessly offered guidance in this new journey. I invested my time, energy, and money to make it work. And it was.
From the outside, everything looked perfect. But inside, I knew I was becoming too dependent on our relationship. It was ever-consuming, sucked me up and I got tangled in love. My friends became bored with me because I only wanted to talk about it. I was becoming one dimensional, isolated, and unsatisfied. I realized that my identity was shaped by my startup and I was losing myself. The startup was thriving and growing everyday, but I was no longer. Something needed to change.
I tried to work on it. Tried to find a balance, tried to prioritize my health and other friendships and find what would make me the happiest. But something in my gut told me that I wasn’t in love anymore. I had started to find other passions and realized that I didn’t want to be tied down. So I broke up with my startup.
Trust me, it was not easy. I questioned if I was crazy for letting something so fantastic go. I had to deal with the awkward conversations when friends asking how we were doing. This was surprisingly one of the hardest parts and often led to me changing the subject or pretending we were on a break. I went through this just as I was about to leave the country to study in Paris. A place where no one knew my past, present or future. I sure as hell didn’t. I learned to be on my own. I learned to love eating, wandering, reading, writing, and adventuring alone. In one of the most romantic cities in the world, I fell in love with my independence.
Every once in a while, I caught myself reminiscing and wishing we could get back together. Moments of hope fluttered over me, where I’d think we could work again. I’d changed right?! I would stay up late redesigning my logo or launching a new design in a desperate frenzy. But I would wake up the next day only to find the passion that kept me up —gone. I wondered if I would ever find a love like that again.
It’s about a year after the breakup and I could not be happier with my decision. I have grown so much in this year being single and exploring my interests, new and old. I reconnected with my love for teaching, dove into design and did exactly what I wanted to do every day. Now I am finally opening my heart again. I am dating a pretty awesome startup. It’s still new, so I don’t want to jinx it. I have no idea what will happen, but that’s the fun part isn’t it?
I know that in this new chapter in my startup love life, I can hold on to myself and my identity. For those who are thinking about breaking up with a startup you aren’t in love with anymore, trust your gut and know that there are plenty of other startups in the sea. Think about it, how often do you marry your first love or your high school sweetheart? First loves teach us so much; they are a true gift. Don’t be afraid to move forward and open a new chapter because you never know when you will meet “the one.”