I’m Tired of Hearing About Your Startup Depression
Startups are hard. That’s a fact, no one is refuting it.
But lately it’s become trendy to talk about just how hard they really are, and the toll they can have on people. People talk of depression, and of the psychological price of entrepreneurship— and just how hard it is.
Call me callous, but know what, it’s time to stop bitching.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel for these folks. Depression is very real, and can happen to anyone. And if you feel it, I suggest telling someone and getting counseling and medical help.
But we’re talking about the specifics of startup pain here. I take a few issues with all of the moaning and groaning:
- You chose startup life. No one forced you to take the leap into the unknown. No one made you scrape together pennies to figure out if your wild, never-before-attempted, potentially-batshit-crazy idea would work. You went to an accelerator or an incubator. You track all the cool companies like Uber and Snapchat. You want to be part of the community and learn a new skill like growth marketing or engineering. You chose this.
- You are privileged. If you’re in the startup ecosystem, it’s likely you had every opportunity to graduate high school or college. Compared to the rest of the world you grew up coddled. There’s probably some capital luxury you’re dealing with — certainly as it compares to 99% of the rest of America and certainly to 3rd world countries. You are the silver spoon.
- You are working on challenging problems. Because of your career choice, you get to use your brain. You aren’t toiling away doing menial labor. You’re not monitoring the fry-o-lator at some fast food joint. You aren’t stuffing envelopes or standing in the rain with a ‘40% discount for shoes today’ sign on some street corner.
- …with smart people. All around you are people who want to win, and are high achievers. You have every right to find a great boss or a company that believes in constant education. There is the opportunity to sponge at every corner, to learn from those who are mastering the craft.
- …who give a damn. Ever worked at a company where no one cared at all? Where everyone just punched the clock and hated the idea of creating value or ‘figuring it out’? That is actually soul-draining. In the startup world, you are surrounded by people who are t-r-y-i-n-g. Who want to figure it out. Who generally help each other. Yep, they’re imperfect, hell they’re full of flaws, egomaniacal, and somewhere on the spectrum — but they care enough to show up to make something happen.
I’m on my 6th startup, Mylestoned. Yep, I’ve done this a few times, and yeah it’s friggin’ hard. I lose sleep, I stress about people issues, I wonder if we’ll ever figure it out. I have massive imposter syndrome and I over-read tech pubs and wonder how others make it seem so easy.
Yeah, I literally wonder if I am going crazy sometimes.
But I know that I chose this; in exchange for the potential upside, I chose to deal with the ambiguousness and confusion that comes along with it. And if it gets too hard, I admit I am privileged and could choose to pursue another career path.
So if startup life isn’t really doing it for you. If you feel the always-on nature of the work is just too much or the pressure is too high, I bet you have a ton of opportunity to make a different career choice.
I’m ok if you want to write about it — it’s therapeutic. But don’t for a second pretend there’s no way out. The door is right over there, and there are 1,000 other jobs you could be doing right now.
People, if you got this far, please ❤ below. Otherwise I’ll get depressed.