Annie Parker: Why it’s okay to not be okay

Annie Parker with Anthony Farah

Annie Parker with Anthony Farah. Source: Supplied

Earlier this month, Lighthouse announced it will pivot away from its plan to create a startup hub in Sydney CBD and instead focus on education. As part of the change, co-founder Annie Parker will be stepping aside as chief executive but will remain involved in an advisory capacity. In this post, she shares insights into the decision and explains why the startup community cannot afford to “gloss over the bad bits”.

It’s been an interesting few days to say the least. Announcing that your new venture is no more after just six months is a bitter pill to swallow.

Before we get into the reason for this post, I’m going to answer a few most often asked questions since the news of me stepping back from Lighthouse:

• No, I genuinely do not have any clue what I’ll be doing next;

• No, I don’t want to work for you or your startup for free; and

• Yes, it hurts.

But it’s okay — it’s all part of startup life.

As my Dad says, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

Here’s the reason for the post, I think it’s hugely important not to gloss over the bad bits and call them out for what they are — valuable (painful) learning experiences. In our social media driven world, it’s so easy to only share the glitteringly perfect moments, but it’s just not real life.

I know everything will work itself out in the end, but until it does, I’ll be wrestling with the embarrassment of not being able to make the plan work; the worry that people will think less of me; the concern for others we bought along on the journey and hoping that they’ll be okay too; the angst of not knowing where my next pay cheque will come from … and a whole heap of other things.

It’s taking a hit on my sleep patterns. I’m not dealing with decision making as well as I am usually able to. I’m more irritable, I’m snapping at very close friends over stupid things. Quite obviously, I’m not okay.

If you’re a founder reading this and any of this resonates for you — please, please know that you are not alone. This shit is hard, and it’s going to take a toll on you emotionally. Surround yourself with amazing mentors and friends who will take you out for breakfasts, lunches, G&Ts and administer hugs (for those of you who’ve done this for me in the last few days, thank you!). Ask for the help you need in whatever form you need it.

This is the big point of this post … vulnerability is not a weakness, asking for help is good.

It really is okay to not be okay — please don’t suffer in silence.

This article was first published on LinkedIn


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