I owe you an apology.
I did the one thing I don’t want people doing to me: I judged you before I knew you. Well, I don’t know you, know you, but you know, I know you. Since you have no idea who I am, though, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karen Howell and I am married to an entrepreneur. (Hence Mrs. Startup. Get it?)
You might be thinking, “How cool! How exciting!” And it might be for you and for others, but it’s not for me. I don’t have the mindset for starting a business, or for being married to someone who does. What I do have is bitterness, and a lot of it toward the world of self-development and motivational speaking. A world in which you’ve made your living.
But first, let me explain where I think you and I went wrong.
A little background
In August, I bought your book Girl, Wash Your Face for my friend as a thank you for letting my kids take swim lessons at her house. I didn’t really know who you were back then and I hadn’t read your book, but I had heard good things about it and it seemed like the perfect gift for her.
Then one day, after finishing an episode of How I Built This, I figured I should listen to one from your podcast, Rise. But it fell flat for me. So I listened to another one the next day, and that one, too, fell flat.
“I don’t get it,” I remember thinking. “Everybody loves her. What am I missing?”
I started seeing your hashtag #madeformore circling the social media world and I thought that you were criticizing women, like me, who didn’t want more than just staying home with their kids. I thought that you looked down on me because I wasn’t a #bosslady or #momboss or #mompreneur or whatever other #name we can think of.
So I shelved you for a while until I went for a walk one morning with another stay-at-home mom friend. She and I started talking about you and she said how much she loved Girl, Wash Your Face. She said that it was a good reminder about how to live her daily life. I adore this friend and value her opinion, so once again, I thought that I must be missing something.
But a mean girl thought kept popping into my head. “I bet she’s so popular because she just tells women what they want to hear. She’s saying, ‘Oh, honey, it’s not your fault that [insert problem] is happening to you.’”
Ugh. I can’t believe I thought that. And you know what? I still hadn’t read the book! I had no right to judge you. I know that I was only criticizing you because I was so down on myself.
During this time, I was really struggling with a lot of things that stemmed from the lack of success of Ryan’s business. I was stressed financially. I was angry at Ryan. I was frustrated with the kids. I was tired, lonely, and resentful. And yes, I was also very bitter. (Oh, who am I kidding? I still feel all of those things. I’m still very stressed, although I’m somewhat less bitter.)
But I was also starting my own self-development journey because I felt guilty for not supporting Ryan the way I’ve been told I needed to. I wanted to learn more about him and about myself in the hopes that we could figure out this startup thing together.
Ryan is a Funnel Hacker and a big Russell Brunson fan. He totally drank Brunson’s Kool-Aid and is all in with everything ClickFunnels puts out there. I admit that even I – bitter, cynical me – like Brunson’s message and his values. So when I saw that he had a podcast episode about what he learned from you, I figured I should listen to it.
Big mistake. Big. Huge! I was driving to the grocery store when Brunson started talking about how he loved your message to keep showing up.
“NO!” I thought. “No, no no!”
I didn’t want Ryan to keep showing up. I wanted him to get a job. We have two little kids and I stay home with them, and we needed money. We didn’t have any other income while Ryan was building his business.
That day must’ve been a particularly bad one for me because I remember that I was seething. I had just started posting on Instagram as Mrs. Startup and I went home and wrote a super snarky post. I didn’t name you or Brunson or anyone else, but it was generally directed at people working in the personal development space. I knew how negative it was so I sat on it and didn’t publish it.
But Brunson’s podcast had sealed the deal for me. I was NOT a Rachel Hollis fan. I had given you enough chances and I was finished.
My change of heart
Then two things happened.
First, I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and a sentence jumped out at me. He had written: “If we use our own autobiography to make early judgments before we really understand what an author has to say, we limit the benefits of the reading experience.”
Ohhh-kay, Mr. Covey, I heard you loud and clear. As a newbie blogger, I knew that not everything I wrote or posted was going to be a home run. People aren’t going to connect with everything that I write, say or do. Why should I expect that from someone else?
So Rachel, I Googled you. I found an article that mentioned a viral Facebook post from 2015 about how you still wear a bikini after birthing three babies. And I remembered that post! Well, to be honest, I remembered your monogrammed bikini. (I hope you still have it, by the way. It’s super cute. #monogrameverything)
Next I saw you post on Instagram (yes, I still followed you even though I didn’t like you) about your interview on Ed Mylett’s podcast. I liked him when I heard him speak at Grant Cardone’s 10X Growth Conference in February, so I decided to try again. And I’m so glad that I did. That one episode totally changed my opinion of you.
I think the part that did it was when you said that women need to take responsibility for things in our lives. If we don’t like something, we need to take steps to change it. We need to stop blaming everyone else for things that are going wrong.
I was cheering and cringing at the same time. I knew that I needed to take responsibility for our situation, and I guess I just needed a slap in the face to make me accept it. I needed to stop complaining and figure out how to help Ryan fix our mess. This isn’t anyone’s fault but our own. We put ourselves here and we need to figure a way out. I expected Ryan to do it because that was his job. I was doing mine at home with the kids.
But that’s not really how marriage works, and certainly not ours. I’m a modern-thinking woman even though we have traditional roles in our marriage. It’s also not like Ryan doesn’t help at all with the kids. In fact, he does quite a bit, and probably a lot more than most other husbands with wives who stay home with their children. So why should I think that it’s only up to him to work on the business?
All this is easier said than done but at least I realize what I have to do. Changing a lot of years of thinking is a hard thing to do overnight. We’re still struggling and I still cry most days, but I’m taking responsibility for my actions.
So Rach, I’m glad that I didn’t give up on you and that I finally stopped projecting my sh** onto you. It wasn’t fair and I’m sorry.
P.S. I still haven’t read Girl, Wash Your Face. Please don’t hate me! But yesterday while at the library with my kids, I happened to find a copy that had been marked missing. My county library system currently has 154 holds on eight copies, so I can’t believe I found it. I kind of jumped the line in Orange County. #sorrynotsorry