You know that feeling when you put an intension out into the universe, and then suddenly all the stars seem to align? And this usually likes to happen around the time when you don’t quite think you’re ready, but you decide to be brave and do it anyways? Well, this is one of those stories…
On this very day four years ago, on April 1st, 2015 to be exact, I took a HUGE leap of faith. I remember as if it were yesterday, the overwhelming fear and excitement that flooded my heart and soul. It was the first day I started seeing patients at MY own office. It was the first day I became MY own girlboss (insert: YIKES! Do I have what it takes to do this?!).
A few months prior, I remember coming home and sharing with Alex (my then boyfriend, now fiancée) how I had been wrestling with this unsettling urge to open my own practice, and how my gut was telling me to take this huge leap of faith despite all the unknowns. I remember explaining to him that I hoped to make this happen in about a year, I just needed to save up some money first. Alex thoughtfully inquired, “Is the money the only thing holding you back from starting sooner? How much do you need?” I had already done the math, and sheepishly showed him my spreadsheet. Showing him my financials made me feel incredibly exposed and immediately made me question am I worth it? He soon looked back and me and without a moment’s hesitation said, “If that’s all you need, and if the money is the only thing that’s keeping you from doing this right now, I’ll write you a check tonight.”
For a moment I could barely breathe. I wasn’t used to asking for help, let alone accepting a check for what felt like A LOT of money to me, and especially from Alex. The last thing I wanted was to be a burden to him by using his savings to fund my dream, but there was one more piece to this puzzle. Tears started to well in my eyes, “Yes, the money is mostly the only thing that’s holding me back. I mean, I need to find office space and put together a website, but I can figure that out. The other part I’m most worried about is what if I fail?” Alex handed me the check with the calmest pep talk I’ve ever received, “You’ve never failed at anything you’ve set your mind to. You always figure it out. I’ve seen you do that consistently for all nine years I’ve known you. You’re the safest investment I could put money into. Don’t worry about this loan. You can pay me back whenever. I’m not worried about that one bit. Go open your own practice.”
I held on to the check for a few days, wrestling with whether or not to accept it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready to let Alex help me; it was that I wasn’t ready to let anyone help me. It also wasn’t in my nature to take a risk at what felt like another person’s expense, both literally and figuratively. After reviewing my spreadsheet at least ten more times, and getting real with my fears, I finally decided to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I accepted Alex’s generous offer and let my financial obstacle be redirected. Little did I know, the bigger obstacle was actually myself. It took me a few years later to realize it was me who needed to get out of my own way and start believing in myself.
A month later I stumbled upon a cozy office space thanks to patient of mine who was familiar with the rental market. As soon as I walked in, I knew it was too perfect to pass up. It needed a fresh coat of paint and a little updating, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My gut said yes, while my mind said, “Are you sure? Do you really want to take this on?” After a few sleepless nights, and encouragement from Alex, I contacted the property management and asked to put in an application. On the one hand, I hoped I would get approved. I could already start to envision what my office would look like. On the other hand, there was a part of me that secretly hoped they might reject my offer. If they say no, then I’ll know this wasn’t the right thing to do after all. That will be the universe’s way of telling me I’m in wayyyy over my head. This was also a twisted way of me trying to protect myself from not getting my hopes up, you know, just in case things didn’t work out…Fortunately, the universe saw right through my self-sabotaging ways, and decided it wasn’t messing around. Within 24hrs of my application submission, I was approved, and soon found myself signing a yearlong lease with a shaky hand and lot of anxiety. Will I have enough patients to make ends meet? Will I be able to pay the rent for 12 consecutive months? Will I survive my first year in business? Will I be able to pay Alex back? Who am I to think I can run my own practice?”…These were just a sampling of the critical voices that were blaring inside my head.
I was barely a year out of grad school. Venturing out on my own so soon had not been part of my master plan. This was an idea I had envisioned for myself somewhere 5-8 years from where I was currently standing. I had told myself I would work for a while first to gain valuable clinical experience to then be “good enough” to open my own business. As I stood in my new space, I clutched my new office keys so strongly as if to convince myself that this wasn’t a dream. That this wasn’t going to just vanish into thin air. I sat down on the floor of my empty office and couldn’t help but feel like I was breaking the rules, like I wasn’t qualified to be doing what I was doing just yet…and yet, there I was. Somehow, the pain of staying where I had been, had become greater than the fear of failure.
The pain that had been killing my soul came from a broken healthcare system. I couldn’t keep ignoring the frustration, burn-out, and resentment I felt anymore from a system that was preventing me from treating my patients in the ways I felt they needed and deserved. I was seeing 12-14 patients a day, barely keeping up with all the paperwork, and coming home in tears from exhaustion more times than I would like to admit. There has to be a better way…I remember thinking. I know I didn’t pick the wrong professional, but I know this isn’t sustainable for me long term. It took me eight long months before I could begin to embrace the solution of opening my own practice. I was passionate about orthopedics, Pilates for movement reeducation, and was on the cusp of beginning my pelvic health specialty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to utilize all of these skills in a traditional outpatient clinic in the ways I wanted to because insurance didn’t find them “medically necessary.” I decided I was done with the bulls&*%#. I have never been the type to settle, or simply surrender without a valiant effort when I think something is unjust. As the weeks went on, the rage in my heart turned into a productive fire that inspired me to do my own thing, to branch out on my own, and offer my services in a way that felt true to me. I went rogue. I said no to insurance, I became an out-of-network provider, and felt a new level of calm in being able to treat my patients with one-on-one care that’s as unique to them as they are. This has, and always will be a core value of my practice.
As I walk into my office today, I remember back to opening my front door for the first time and recognizing that I chose to embrace a dream that once felt bigger than myself. As I share this story from four years ago, the waves of emotions come flooding back as if it were my very first day all over again, but this time, they’re accompanied by an immense amount of gratitude. Gratitude for having had the courage to jump all in, for having a partner that believed in me before I fully believed in myself, for my patients who trusted me with their care, who have taught be to be the clinician I am today and continue to grow into, and for the gift of being able to celebrate my fourth year in business TODAY.
Now this isn’t to say that being a girlboss is all sunshine and rainbows or that I don’t still have days of self-doubt. It’s still hard and lonely at times, and often involves a lot of grit and juggling behind the scenes, but that’s also what makes it rewarding and meaningful and exactly where I want to be, where I’m still learning to be, but where I’m proud to be. There’s never an easy road to the things that matter, and that’s often where the magic happens. So if you’ve been holding back from taking that leap of faith, know that you’re not alone, know that it’s ok to be scared, know that it’s ok to ask for help, and know that it’s ok to leap before you’re ready. As Wayne Gretzky so eloquently put it, “We miss 100% of the shots we never take.” Failure may happen, and it will be disappointing and hard, but so will the feelings of regret for playing it safe. Choose you, that’s always a worthwhile investment.