When I was 30, I helped co-found a conference called TEDActive, which was literally a dream project. I helped create an experiential TED that would inspire people to share ideas while working through different distribution models. It was a blast to run and inspiring to curate and foster a diverse community of people with radical ideas.
After a few years of running TEDActive, and all the while running my small company Pink Cloud Events, I had reached what I thought were my milestones and goals: I was living with my (then) boyfriend, with great jobs, in a house on a hill with a puppy and talking about getting married and having kids. But the more I thought about the trajectory of where I was heading, I felt more and more like I was at a crossroads in both my life and work.
I didn’t want to settle down and have kids just because my Asian family thought “it was time.” I could continue building out the TEDActive community, but I was hungry for a new challenge. I had always wanted to (and still do) get my Ph.D. from Stamford to continue my research in symbolic systems, but I wasn’t convinced that going back to school was the right challenge, right now. Pink Cloud Events was doing well, but it wasn’t really challenging me in the ways I needed to grow exponentially.
I had been reflecting on this for a few months when, one morning, I was rudely awakened in my bedroom to the smell of my boyfriend, who reeked of alcohol. My (then) boyfriend had come home drunk from a bar yet again. I realized that I needed to hit the reset button, for both my personal life and my career. The family thing wasn’t in the cards for sure and I needed a new challenge.
I thought, if I don’t have a child and I have all this open space, what’s the best use of my time and energy? I decided to make building my company, my kid… I decided to put my energy into building my business.
I got out of my relationship and have since spent the last years building up Happily into a network of over 50,000 event planners across the country.
We have to make decisions for ourselves. There have been many moments in my life when I have hit the reset button. Every time I hit it, it makes life a lot more interesting to start fresh and seek out new challenges.
Sarah Shewey is the founder of Happily.io, a company that helps brands, event marketing agencies, nonprofits and families execute events better than they were planned.