Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

The One Important Lesson Every Entrepreneur Must Embrace – Deborah Tan

It is easy to feel lousy about yourself when you are caught up in the midst of running your business and trying to establish your brand. Deborah Tan confides how she too suffers from days when she feels exceptionally unexceptional.

“I feel very good about myself every time I tell people that I own a content agency,” said Denise. “Plus, I’m earning more now than I did holding down a full-time job and that is very empowering!”

I looked at Denise and I couldn’t help but smile. In front of me was a person who has wholeheartedly embraced her status as a founder of a business. But me? As much as I would love to shout it out loud and proud that I’m my own boss EVERY DAY, I have to admit that I still go through periods of low self-esteem – especially when I attend events and a voice in my head goes, “You’re now a nobody.” I know I’m being a complete idiot but …

This episode of confidence crisis came about after a particularly “lonely” event last week. There were 2 tables at the event and when I arrived, those from “big media” (my personal catch-all term for titles under the huge companies) had grouped together at one table. The other table was pretty empty and, not wanting to “intrude”, I sat at the second table on my own. For 2 hours, I felt truly alone and unspectacular.

“Why didn’t you just go sit with the media people?” Denise asked when I related the incident to her. “It’s not as if you didn’t know them!”

“I don’t know …” I mumbled. “A part of me just felt like I didn’t really belong there, the magazine world, anymore. I just don’t want to look like I’m intruding …”

“Aiyah! I think you are just overthinking things! No one will say that about you lah!” declared Miss Confidence. “AND … honestly, you are not a nobody just because you are no longer an editor. If you asked me to go back to a magazine full-time, I will really have to think twice. Now, I’m very happy waking up and going to work every morning. We own a business!”

Have I Lost Everything And Become Nothing?
And Denise has a point. While not every business can be an overnight phenomenon like Facebook or Uber, we entrepreneurs need to celebrate that we have done something brave with our lives. This is something many of us – especially myself – don’t do enough of. We need to remember that we took a chance, and we took a leap into a world where the outcome could swing both ways – we could be successful or we could fail disastrously. Giving up a regular paycheque is not something everyone has the guts to do.

It’s easy to get lost in self-doubt when you are struggling to turn a profit or trying to get your brand out there. For me, I’ll be lying if I said I took to entrepreneurship like a fish to water. When I made the decision to give up my car so I won’t have to deal with the stress of meeting the monthly repayments, I honestly thought I was damn “loser” for not being to keep my ride. Losing the so-called symbols of success – the fancy job title, the fat paycheque, the car – was, in a way, confidence crushing because they were what I saw as achievements that I had “unlocked” on my climb up the publishing ladder. By losing them, does it mean I have become nothing?

No. Here’s why:

Mmmm ... mmm .... mmm ...

Mmmm … mmm …. mmm …

The Chest-Thumping Belief Entrepreneurs Need To Have
I have not become nothing because …

1. No matter the scale of my business, I have gone from a salaried worker to becoming a business owner. I have, in a way, progressed.

2. It doesn’t matter how much profit I’ve made, as long as I’m making money, my business idea is viable.

3. I’m not at the mercy of bureaucratic layers and HR processes, I call the shots and therefore I’m no longer a “corporate slave”.

These are just 3 of the many reasons why we entrepreneurs should go about our everyday lives with our heads held high. There is no need to feel we are of a “lower class” than top-level executives of big companies because we are at the top of our own business. While we may not be able to flaunt a large paycheque, we can certainly flaunt the size of our “balls”.

We entrepreneurs do what we do because we have no respect for the status quo and we get a kick out of doing things our own way. We hate uniformity and mindless conformity, we live to be different, and to stand out from the flock.

And, it is this “I’m Not Your Average Salary Worker” mentality we possessed that we need remind ourselves of every day. No matter how small someone may make us feel because we are no longer a part of the corporate rat race, we have to – like Matthew Mcconaughey’s character in The Wolf Of Wall Street – thump ourselves on the chest and proudly remind ourselves that we are the shizzy and that, as entrepreneurs, we are on our way to change the game, change the world.

We are the change the world needs.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace the fact that they ARE awesome.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace the fact that they ARE awesome.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She thanks for lucky stars that her co-founders are balls of positive energy that she can tap into every time feelings of inadequacy threatens to rock her confidence. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Letting Go Of My Insecurities – Vanessa Tai

It’s normal to feel insecure or doubt yourself from time to time, but not when it’s affecting your relationships with others. Vanessa Tai shares how she’s actively trying to work through her insecurities. 

You know that song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons? Part of the chorus goes, “Don’t get too close, It’s dark inside, It’s where my demons hide.” When I first heard this song, this line really leapt out at me because I know just how dark and messy my mind can get. However, if you think about it, the reason why certain songs are so popular is because millions around the world identify with the lyrics or message of the song. It’s the same with this song. As much as I think I’m alone in my insecurities, I am certain that most, if not all of us are battling some form of emotional baggage of sorts. We just think we’re the only ones simply because we feel it so acutely.

Where Do These Insecurities Stem From

Before we can tackle any problem, it’s always helpful to get to the root cause. If you ask me where my feelings of inadequacy stem from, I probably wouldn’t be able to point to any particular one incident or person. Rather, I think it’s a collection of experiences — constantly being compared with my peers, toxic relationships, loss of loved ones — that shaped me into the person I am today. I’m not going to lie to you, it can be painful trying to identify what and who was it that hurt you just so you can learn from it. But it’s so, so necessary.


Because I refuse to play the victim anymore. I’m sick and tired of falling back into my old patterns of self-doubt and second-guessing everything. My low self-esteem has affected and is continuing to affect my relationships with others … and I hate it! I often wonder what do people see in me and question their affections at every turn. And trust me, I’m not even trying to be cute or self-deprecating. There just seems to be a huge shortfall between how I perceive myself and how others perceive me. This is especially apparent in unfamiliar social situations or new relationships. I start to feel anxious and see sniggers or side glances when there are none, or interpret a person’s silence around me as boredom or unhappiness. It’s a terrible state of mind to be in, and I want it to stop.

Above all, I get how tiring and frustrating it is for another person to constantly have to reassure me that I’m worth loving. This is why I need to learn how to do this for myself – to remind myself that I am lovable and deserving of love.

Learn to laugh at yourself and don't take everything so seriously.

Learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take everything so seriously.

How To Let Go Of Your Insecurities

One thing that insecure people do is invent problems in their mind when none exist in reality. To use an analogy, somebody who’s afraid of flying will start to interpret every weird sound or turbulence as a sign that the airplane is going to crash. This leaves them panicky and unable to enjoy the flight. The same goes for relationships. I have a bad habit of trying to read between the lines of what people say and will obsess endlessly about whether they actually meant something else. However, unless the person gives you a genuine reason for this distrust (they have a history of compulsive lying, for example), it’s unfair to let our scepticism or previous bad experiences colour the way we interact with him/her. What I’ve found helpful is to write freely about my thoughts and feelings about the person or situation. Time and again, seeing my thoughts in print has helped give me clarity over what is actually happening versus what I’m conjuring up in my mind.

Another thing I’m still working on is learning to accept that uncertainties are a part of all relationships. There is no sure thing in the world; human relationships are too capricious and unpredictable. We can never know everything about another person and yes, it can be scary knowing that the person you love could change seemingly overnight. However, does that mean we continue operating under an umbrella of fear and doubt? Of course not! It’s unhealthy and will only poison our relationships over time. If we want to love somebody, truly love somebody, we need to beat down our fears and love courageously and wholeheartedly. If not, what’s the point?

Before I sign off, let me share with you a beautiful quote that Lili recently shared with me over after-work drinks (yes, we’re deep like that). This quote is a perfect illustration of the point I’m trying to make – we are not perfect, never have been and never will be, but paradoxically, that’s what makes us exquisite.

Imagine the Hope Diamond twirling in a bright, clear light. The light pouring through the beveled cuts of the diamond would create a whirling rainbow of colour. The diamond is whole and complete and BECAUSE it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty. Its form is a spectrum of whirling colour. 

So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism.

All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.

We are already “never not broken.” We were never a consistent, limited whole. In our brokenness, we are unlimited.”

– extract from an Elephant Journal article by Julie Peters

If you’re reading this and nodding in agreement, I’ll like to make a pact with you. Let’s not waste any more time with crippling insecurities and just be awesome in life, yes? 🙂

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She reckons today is as good a day as any to stop being insecure. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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