Last week was the biggest rollercoaster so far of my start-up career. The car I am sitting in on this ride went up to the top, swerved to the left, swerved to the right, cascaded 90 feet, and is climbing up again. I am anticipating another fast, fun turn, wondering if the car will derail as it's now past the suggested speed of most human's comfort zones.
I also know that this ride could stop abruptly. Game over! Find another ride. That would be sad.
It's this unpredictable journey that makes many of us try the start-up. We know it's not always pretty but we are looking to build. Building a big dream comes as naturally as breathing -- we have to. The less we fear, the more resiliency we have, the higher the heights. But the lows are intense and hard.
Last week I gasped for breath in swift descent. I cried over fear of loss to a few friends who came to my house. Once I thought I was a person who was so strong she couldn't cry (except in sappy movies). I found that once the tears started they just wouldn't stop. My friends had never seen me cry like this before. "Will I have to break up with my company?" I sobbed. My other start-up and entrepreneurial friends found this incredibly funny. They each shared their failures and how they turned them into great new chapters in life. It made me take myself a little less seriously. "Laughing is an option," I wrote down in my spiral-bound notebook. "I don't know what's going to happen next week."
"Trust the universe," one dear friend said.
Over the next few days three new and big opportunities emerged. Today was a great, great day! I got back in my car feeling alone, put on my seat belt ready to climb that next big hill. The grease on the tracks, the sun came out, more opportunity calls came rolling in. This ride is not over. I think I smiled a few times, pressed the pause button, and went out for a whole wheat Nutella crepe and an Illy cappuccino on 11th and New York Avenue with a colleague.
My stepmother Monique, a woman of great wisdom, once told me that life is like a river and you go down it. Sometimes you find a branch and you grab onto it and it pulls you out of the river. That branch could be love, marriage, a stable career. Some branches are too weak and they snap and you continue on your way until you grab onto another branch.
A year ago I had let go of a 20-year good branch, building a cause and after 20 years was more than ready for a new challenge. I was ready to take on the river and the currents. No fear, no regrets.
If you are going to join a start-up, most branches are greener, new, and have some real probability that they can snap. We know this. We know this even if we don't want to accept this.
But you might also have the ride of your life and you just might create something of value that can change the world. We know this.
Be resilient! Prepare for the risk with savings, strong family support (my family has been my strongest branch every day, every night). You might be able to build something magnificent like a stunning bridge with views across the turbulent river or your own entire amusement park.
Your car might derail and you might wind up on another ride or altogether another amusement park. Your smaller failures will be neither fatal or final. Learning for future successes and challenges -- it's up to you. Are you willing to step into that car alone or again with some awesome advisers and partners? If so, strap your seat belt on, and go!
Julie Kantor writes weekly for Huffington Post Business on careers, start-ups and job searching. Her recent articles can be found at www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-kantor