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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Realities of Starting Up

As someone who shares her life publicly online, I receive emails or DMs (direct messages) on my social media from strangers pretty often. Some of them just dropping a note to say hi and keep up the good work (which never fails to touch my heart every single time), some asking me where I got my clothes, makeup, or even Tyler's playpen from (yes, many times for the playpen!), and some just leaving remarks along the lines of, "You have such a perfect life, Careen", "I really envy that you have it all- a happy marriage, a cute baby and a thriving business".

Each time I receive such messages, I would pause and reflect if my life were really as perfect as it seems, that if I have unintentionally painted my life to be so perfect that others perceive it that way.

The truth is, my life is not perfect. I admit that I am blessed with a lot of good things in my life- loving families, a great husband, an adorable baby and a business that is growing. But with each and every thing comes its own set of issues and struggles.

For instance, I have a really loving family. We're all happy, healthy and harmonious. People always tell me how they envy our family bonding and dynamics, and that I have a perfect family. However, we're not wealthy and financial struggle is a big things for us, especially for my family since I have a HUGE family (2 parents, 7 girls!). Sometimes it gets really tough, but we have learned to make do and be hardworking from where we came from. Nevertheless, is my family perfect? No. We have disagreements too, and we have our own unique sets of struggles.

I have a great husband. He's loving, hands-on and a dedicated husband and father. But is our marriage perfect? Far from it. We still quarrel, disagree and get angry with each other occasionally. Though yes, over the course of 5 years married (yes, we just crossed the 5-year mark!), we have learned to understand and treat each other better despite our differences, and things have improved significantly. However, our marriage is still a work in progress and definitely NOT perfect.

Tyler is no doubt a very cheeky and adorable baby. Well, not so baby anymore. Toddler now! Most of the time what I share on social media are the happy moments where Tyler's all cute and cheery. But have you seen his tantrums? Maybe not because when he throws a fit I'm usually too worked up myself trying to discipline him than to pick up my phone and Instagram it. 

But here's a photo I managed to capture today at the traffic light of Tyler throwing a fuss in his car seat because he saw me turning left from our condo which means heading towards his grandparents' house. And each time we head towards his grandparents' house he knows I'm dropping him there and heading to work. 

On some days, he will happily cooperate but today, he decided to protest the whole journey through.

Imagine, the whole journey- 15 minutes of nonstop screaming and crying.

Is Tyler a perfect baby? NOPEEEEE. He has his fun and happy side, but just like any toddler he has his fair share of mood-swings and tantrums to boot. 

For The White Atelier, I have many people coming up to tell me how well we're growing despite only being officially 11-month old (we opened our doors in March 2017)! To date, we have an organic Instagram following of 5.3k without having spent a single amount on advertising the page at all. No doubt we have received a very good response from brides in the country and also across the region like Singapore, Brunei and even London and Australia. God has given us so much favour and I'm truly grateful.

With growth also comes sacrifices like these, that nobody likes to talk about.

Most entrepreneurs only show the glorious and glamorous sides of their ventures- the media interviews, magazine features and achievements. But nobody really likes to talk about the sacrifices along the way- the times spent labouring late into the night, having to say no to social events and hangouts cos you have too much work piling up, not having the time to eat cos appointments run longer than expected and a whole day becomes back-to-back appointments, staying in to work on a happening Friday night, and the list goes on.

BEHIND THE SCENES // Sharing with you what goes on behind the shots of #TWAshoes- lots of experimenting with different props, angles and backgrounds to highlight our custom made shoes, all taken by yours truly money so do everything myself 🙈 More than that, I wanna share with you what truly goes on behind the scenes of running a business. Too often we're shown the glamorous sides of business, how business owners often appear in the media limelight, featured in interviews and articles and seem like they have it all together. But what people don't talk often enough about is that along with the fulfilment of starting something you can proudly call your own, the stress, self-doubt, anxiety, and heartaches that come along with it are inevitable and real. No matter how confident you are about your products and your team, self-doubt creeps in and then you find yourself questioning if you're truly good enough to begin with. No matter how well you're progressing, you will always wonder if you'd be getting the same response the following day, weeks and months. What I've learned over time is that our minds are more powerful than we realize. The moment our thought life is compromised, we will be defeated. It's difficult to stay positive and motivated all the time, so it's important to surround yourself with likeminded people who are also working hard to achieve their goals and dreams. Feed your mind with knowledge and inspirations. Do whatever it takes to keep your mind healthy. Your mind is powerful, so guard it and feed it well 💪🏻 #thewhiteatelier 📷: @loveentxy
A post shared by Careen Tan (@careentxy) on

This really bothered me for a while because I felt like people are often misled into thinking that it's glamorous to be an entrepreneur or business owner, because what they see is the flexibility in working hours, not having to work under a boss, and doing what they love.

But what people often miss out is the stress of not knowing what tomorrow brings- on whether we will be as lucky as we are this month, on whether we are able to pay rent and salary, and continue to grow as we have been. And people definitely hardly talk about the nasty customers who disrespect you and speak to you like you're a nobody simply because they're the one who 'pay'. The list of struggles for a business owner is endless and is unique to each business, but we're learning each step of the way. Nonetheless, it isn't as perfect as everyone seems to think at all. No, not at all.

My point is, everyone has their unique sets of struggles. One very common struggle that most of us face is no doubt financial struggle, especially if you're like me, just starting a new family, building a home, and building a new business all at once.

This video put together by Citibank really hit home for me because I can really relate. The realities of starting a family is rough. Financial struggles are real and as much as it is a taboo in our society (people still regard finances as a sensitive issue), I believe it should be addressed openly.

Sometimes we just need to know that we're not alone in our struggles. And sometimes, we just need to know that it's okay to seek help.

My personal stance is that there is absolutely no issue seeking for financial help or funding to kickstart something- a new family, a business, a new investment, as long as we don't get ourselves into debts. Good money management is vital and as long as you're able to portion out and payback your loan in time, you're all good. And there should be nothing to be worried about.

In partnership with Citibank, I'd like to share about some of the benefits of their personal loans, which include:

- Loan up to RM150k or 10x your gross monthly income
- Low flat interest rate from 7.9% per annum
- Loan repayment tenure up to 60 months
- No processing fees
- No collateral or guarantor required
- Instant online approval in just 5 steps

You can find out more about Citibank's personal loans on their website here!

I know it's a rather long post, but if you don't remember anything you read here, just remember these two things:

#1: You're not alone in your financial struggles. You and I, and many other are struggling to make a living and to create a future for themselves too.

#2: Financial struggles are real, and it is totally okay to seek financial help as long as you seek from the right, credible sources like official banks, and as long as you plan your money wisely and not get into debt!

Hope this post has been helpful in one way or another.
'Til then!

Love, Careen.
This post is filed under Advertorial, Personal.

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