HOW MY PAST WITH DEPRESSION INFLUENCES MY PURPOSE-DRIVEN PRESENT
I come from two contrasting legacies: entrepreneurial spirit and depression.
My father, a business owner himself, tells tales of his German grandfather’s restaurant. When he first started, he would take prepayments from the guests and run out the back door to buy the ingredients at the grocery before preparing the food. He didn’t have enough money to keep a stocked kitchen in those days. My mother shares less colorful stories of her past, ones full of family struggle, anxiety and depression. I have never been quite sure when mental illness began in her family line, and maybe she doesn’t either.
My mother and father, and their love and commitment to one another, has taught me the importance of not letting entrepreneurial fervor or depression define who I am, but instead embracing how these two legacies lead me on a beautifully imperfect and meaningful path. I experience their joys, live with their consequences, and use their lessons to live out my own new legacy.
Depression for me began when I was in college. It was terrifying back when it started, almost like peering in on someone else from the outside. I was spiraling into the picture of a past I had heard too much about, and I couldn’t stop it. All of a sudden, everything felt so empty, social settings became hard, and finally, I ended up dropping out to recoup at home with my parents. Little by little, I regained my hope with the help of medicine, counseling, a lot of love, a lot of rest, a little Zumba down at the YMCA (queue embarrassing flashback moment), and a new floppy Goldendoodle puppy named Lola. Nine years later and that dog is still making me laugh.
Depression is unique to each person who experiences it.
For me, anxiety rears its ugly head when I am in times of life transition. Knowing this helps me to be aware when it comes, but I can’t stop the feelings entirely from appearing and fading. I never could quite figure out how to remove times of transition in life (ha!). As an entrepreneurial type, it seems almost impossible that I will ever be able to stay away from adventure. I always let transition sneak its way back in — I went back to college, graduated, sailed around the world on a mega yacht, met a Norwegian man, experienced cut-throat corporate America, married the Norwegian man, quit the corporate gig, moved to Norway, started a company, and the list goes on.
These moments of change bring a certain level of anxiety with them from time to time, but they have also taught me powerful lessons that I can use for good. I find joy in using these experiences, both good and bad, to weave into the mission and personality of my purpose-driven work.
My company, a magazine for purpose-driven entrepreneurs, is a place where founders are taken down off pedestals, the highlight reel is tossed to the wayside, and authentic experiences are shared by entrepreneurs who are all in the pursuit of positive change in our world. This beautiful mission is allowing a human conversation full of vulnerability, connection, and collaboration to unfold – but it would not have been possible without my legacy.
My passion for entrepreneurialism, my understanding of mental illness, my travels around the world, the devastating effects of poor leadership in Corporate America, the hopelessness I feel when my life and business are not currently going “as planned”, the joy of combining purpose with profits —
All of these things combine to create my unique impact on the world.
As I grow my purpose-driven company, my path is constantly taking twists and turns. It can feel bumpy at times, and that is okay. These ups and downs don’t define my success or my value as a person; they create my beautifully unique legacy and lead me toward the impact I am meant to have on this world.
We all have a legacy that can be used for good, we just need to choose it. Let’s embrace the legacies of our past and use them to build strong, impactful ones for our collective future.
Photos by: Marlena Pearl Photography