Illustrated by Jihyang Lim

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing Either: On Finding Balance

Real talk advice from entrepreneur Erin Yogasundram

Hi! I’m Erin. I’m 25, and I live in Los Angeles. I started Shop Jeen, an online retailer, in my dorm room when I was 20. We bootstrapped the company to do millions in sales, and boast over 500k followers across social channels. I learned a ton from my experience, but just like you (and everyone else), I’m still trying to figure life out. But even though I don’t know everything (no one does!), I have lots of experiences to share and resources to provide—all things that I didn’t have when I started out, and all things I’m hoping will inspire you.

Feel free to tweet me questions @ERINJEEN and maybe we’ll choose your question for NYLON!

Oh gosh. I am still desperately seeking balance in my life! Now that I think about it, I’ve probably never had it. I didn’t really socialize too much in high school, so in my freshman year of college, I went kinda crazy. Then I got wifed up in my sophomore year and didn’t have much of a personal life while also working three retail jobs. I started Shop Jeen in my junior year and ended up breaking up with my boyfriend to focus on the business. 

I met my co-founder, Amelia, when I left school and moved the business to NYC. She also became my best friend, but we never really saw each other outside of the office, and we were working SO MUCH. I spent three years solely focusing on the business. I became 100 percent about growing the company, meaning no friends and no men. But that left me feeling very unfulfilled. I lost all of my relationships, gained a TON of weight, started smoking cigarettes, and became all-around depressed (and I don’t think I even realized it at the time). I was chasing the same dream so many of us have: to become the biggest, the baddest, the bestest, etc. I wanted my company to compete with multi-billion dollar retail giants. I wanted the biggest house with the nicest pool and a closet that would make people cry. I spent all of my energy focused on building a big business, and not a nice life for myself. That lack of balance and aggressive growth mentality blew up in my face.

I am now trying to figure out what my ideal life would look like. What is the right mix of “life, business, and romance” for me? I think everyone has a different formula and there is no universal answer to this question. I’ve learned that our needs and priorities change very frequently, which is difficult to keep up with! Humans are wired to be dissatisfied. We always want more! We have to constantly stay in touch with ourselves and make sure we are in tune with our desires so that we can continuously shape-shift and restructure our days to fit our current goals. It is very easy to get blinded by the pressures of success and lose ourselves. I became very unbalanced when that happened to me. 

But here's what I am doing to help myself, and you're welcome to try this with me. I am going to start doing the following writing exercise every month. The point is to reflect on how my goals are changing so that I can make sure to react to those changes. Hopefully staying in touch with my desires will help me prioritize, focus, and stay balanced.

MONTHLY REFOCUSING WRITING EXERCISE

What has been going well lately?

Has anyone helped you out lately? Did you thank them?

Did you thank yourself for all of your hard work? If not, please do so now.

What did you not do enough of that you really wanted to?

When are you going to start doing that thing? Is there anyone you can invite to do that thing with you, so you have a higher likelihood of accomplishing it while also being social and empowering someone else?

Did you go anywhere cool lately? Did you see anything cool lately?

Is there somewhere cool you want to go this month and/or something cool you want to see?

What are some lessons that you have learned recently?

What are some skills you have picked up recently?

What skills do you want to learn or improve upon?

Who are the most important people in your life right now?

Are any of your relationships in jeopardy? If so, how can you improve them today?

How are you staying inspired?

Are you taking care of yourself? If yes, describe how. If no, describe what you can do better.

What areas of your life are lacking fulfillment and require attention?