I have never feared a challenge; quite the opposite, I have a passion for finding and creating solutions. For as long as I can remember, my mind has been focused on finding creative solutions for everything around me, always looking for ways to improve and move forward.
In 2018 I co-founded CADAF (Crypto and Digital Art Fair) along with my business partner Elena Zavelev, a fair designed to exhibit, collect and learn about digital art (blockchain art at the time) even though the market was still very small.
As CADAF and the NFT / digital art market grew, so did my family.
I had a beautiful baby in 2021 and was faced with the biggest challenge yet. I did not know how to balance my work and family life, let alone balance my well-being with everything that had to get done at home and at work. I quickly got lost between feeling useful and feeling needed. My mind became blurry, between the lack of sleep, physical exhaustion and feelings of guilt. I was not being kind to myself, I was trying to keep up my pace before motherhood and do everything at the same time. Eventually I began to burn the candle on both ends, making the search for balance even harder.
I decided to take a small step back and evaluate why I felt myself in a constant turmoil of emotions. I began by talking openly about what I was experiencing with other women in similar industries, both with and without kids. I talked to a therapist. I talked to my mentor. I did some research and here are some things I learned:
1. It is an ever changing balancing act:
Being in the web3 space things change extremely fast, and so do babies! Some days are great, others not so much. We need to accept change and be flexible with our expectations of how things should be. This allows me to enjoy the small moments and to expect change and embrace it both at home and work.
2. Feeling useful vs feeling needed is all about self-worth:
I did not realize how much of my self-worth was associated with the work I do. The true value was in the middle, I was still a business woman the days I was taking care of my baby, and I was still a great mother the days that I had to work late. I had to understand my value was at being and not necessarily doing. I still take great pride and love my work. One thing does not take away the other.
3. Examine and respect your priorities:
This point was key for me. My top 2 priorities don’t change, after that I can rearrange. 1. My physical and mental health 2. My family. It is the only way to have clarity and make hard decisions. I need to be well to take care of my family and others. Respect your priorities. I listened to a short talk by Michael Hyatt, how respecting your priorities gives you the courage to say no and help distinguish between the urgent and the important and how these can get confused. This has had a major impact in the way I live my life.
4. Set expectations for yourself and others:
It took a while to accept that with a young child your time becomes limited and more valuable! Set realistic expectations to yourself and others around you. For business trips or events I make sure to organize in advance or let everyone know beforehand I will not be making it.
5. Doing everything at once:
Yes, I believe I can have everything - just not all at once. I became happier and more productive when I stopped trying to do everything at the same time. What I could fit into my day before is currently not an option. Some days when we don’t get sleep (teething) I try to go to bed earlier even if normally I would stay up late working. Instead I wake up early the next day with a clearer mind. I try to be kind to myself as much as possible.
6. Go to bed as early as you can:
This one has been hard. I find myself checking my phone at night, even if I’m exhausted and could fall asleep I still do so. I began to think back the next morning about what I had seen or what I had read the night before, and nothing seemed important enough for me to lose 1 or more hours of sleep ( 7 hours is very different to 5!) sometimes I could not even remember what it was.
7. Accept as much help as you need:
In my case, I had a hard time accepting help from others. I was usually the one that did the helping and felt so guilty and disappointed in myself by accepting any help from others. Now I realize society has put unrealistic expectations on women. Accept as much help as you need! Accepting help will make you stronger and most important this does NOT mean you are not enough.
Being a mom gave me more determination and confidence, most importantly it has taught me the value of time. As I embraced change and began taking better care of myself great things began to happen. Both my baby and CADAF are growing. We recently launched our new marketplace and my baby started walking. I am celebrating all accomplishments big or small.
I know everyone has a different experience but I have also noticed a lot of us go through similar struggles. The intention of this post is to share my experience along with some tools and tips I picked up along the way.
Please do reach out with any questions, comments related to this post or to chat about digital art and web3, I am always happy to connect!