Hey there, I’m Nicolle. I swear I’m solar powered (give me all the sunshine), I’m obsessed with dogs (though ironically, I’ve have never had one), and I love the feelings of leaving for a new adventure and returning home.
Oh yeah, and some days I experience anxiety so overwhelming that it stops me in my tracks.
Life as a solo entrepreneur isn’t easy. In fact, 1 in every 3 entrepreneurs struggles with depression and anxiety.
I am one of those entrepreneurs.
One scroll through Instagram wouldn’t help tip you off as to who else fell into that category, but odds are, you’re following many entrepreneurs who struggle behind the screen.
There’s something about Instagram’s perfectly curated images and witty captions that make us feel as though we’re the only ones struggling, and that’s exactly why I speak openly about my own struggles now.
Anxiety is something I’ve always struggled with, but it never alarmed me until I became an entrepreneur. I dove head first into entrepreneurship because I wanted to work with small business owners, helping them reach their dream customers using Instagram.
What I didn’t do is stop and think about how entrepreneurship would affect my mental health.
It wasn’t long into my journey of being my own boss that I began experiencing panic attacks. As serious as they were, I pushed through them because I refused to acknowledge that these attacks were triggered by the immense pressure I was putting on myself to grow my business and be the perfect marketing strategist for my clients.
Looking back, I realize this was the worst way to treat myself, but at the time, I had no idea.
I struggled like this for a long time, with only my boyfriend knowing the truth (thank goodness for him). When I spoke to family on the phone or met friends for happy hour, I’d plaster a big smile on my face and tell them everything was fine.
This went on for weeks until I finally hit my wall. I spent three months doing the bare minimum for my business then heading back to bed to sleep, ashamed of who I’d become. I had always been the first to laugh at a joke (usually my own), get outside any chance I got, and dance around the house to my favorite music. Now, I was the girl who could barely make it through the day without crying and rarely left my bed, let alone the house.
During this time, I avoided Instagram at all costs unless it pertained to client work. I couldn’t make it through the feed without reading stories of entrepreneurs succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, making 6+ figures in their first eight months in business, and loving every second of their lives.
It broke my heart, shattered my self-confidence, and fueled my anxiety.
But then I started seeing different kinds of posts from people like Emily McDowell, Kristen Bell, and Busy Philipps—strong entrepreneurs who weren’t afraid to be themselves or talk about their own struggles. And this, paired with my amazing therapist, helped pull me out of the hole I was in for so long.
We owe it to ourselves and to each other to talk openly about our struggles.
One more time for the people in the back: we owe it to ourselves and to each other to talk openly about our struggles!
Social media can make us feel as though our lives are less than the ones we see as we scroll. Like we could never be as happy, attractive, or successful as the people we follow. But what I’ve found is that we’re never alone in the struggle. So many entrepreneurs experience anxiety, depression, stress, and feelings of unworthiness—the list goes on and on. But unfortunately, because these struggles are rarely shared publicly, we have no idea that we’re not alone.
The one thing most people won’t tell you about entrepreneurship is how not every day is a good one. That some days you just need to take some time to curl up in bed and reboot. That it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and sad.
I want you to know that it’s okay to not feel okay all the time.
More than that, I want to encourage you to open up about your struggles with your community (both online and in real life). Think about sharing your journey and invite them to share their own as a way to connect on a deeper level and shed the myth of a perfect life.
At the end of the day, we must strive to create the online environment we all wish we had. One that is genuine, fun, honest, vulnerable, and inspiring. Together, we can absolutely do this—I already see it forming on Instagram through posts like these from Ali Edwards, Emily McDowell, Jo Johnson, and Jen Gotch. We just need to find the courage to take that first step.
If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. I’m right there with you, along with millions of others. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sharing my own struggles publicly, it’s that your community is ready and so willing to help you in any way they can—you simply have to let them know you need help.
So here’s what I want you to do: imagine us all sitting around a campfire. We’re all getting to know each other while making s’mores (because duh) and I start sharing my struggles, telling you about panic attacks that had me gasping for air and gushing over my incredible therapist, the one who helped me find myself again. How does this scene make you feel? My hope is that after hearing these stories, you’d feel encouraged to share your own stories, too.
We’re stronger, braver, and better together. Join me in making social media a safe place to be open and vulnerable, and a space to share who you truly are.