Editor’s note: The following piece by Callie England sheds light on why she stepped down as CEO of the vegan snack company Rawxies. It contains explicit language.
The other day I found myself frozen in panic; what the fuck just happened!?
And when I say “just happened” I’m referring to the past six years: From the moment I trademarked Rawxies, to the moment I stepped down, and to the moment I pursued another path … What. The fuck. Just happened.
Yup, just like that.
A sobering moment where my life flashed before me. Slow and blissful, yet, fast and painful.
I’m 27, naive, passionate and driven. I had a bachelor’s degree in fine art, no formal business training, and zero experience in food manufacturing. I was fearless to the fullest extent.
I packed a U-Haul and I moved 2,000 miles away from my friends and family. I rented a corner of a tea kitchen and I just went for it. In the first year, I rolled and cut by hand over 100,000 cookies, I knocked on over 100 doors and I averaged four hours of sleep each night.
What an 8 – 5 employee works in 3.5 years, I worked in one.
Repeat that for six years.
I lived so fast, so focused, and so determined that I eventually went numb. I trained my brain to stop feeling because the rollercoaster of emotions was just too much. I shut it off.
I went from innovator and creator to HR and finance. A soul-crushing haze.
Eventually, I began to crumble. I built a brand, but I did it at the cost of, well, everything: Relationships, family, hobbies and health.
I stopped feeling in the pursuit of success.
Investors, employees, product manufacturing — the hole was so fucking deep and I was so alone. I got sick of explaining to people the reality of entrepreneurialism, so I just I just isolated myself further.
Everyone thought I was so alive. When all I wanted every night, was to go to bed and never wake up. I wish I were kidding.
I was done playing pretend.
Six months later, I’ve begun to feel again. Not only experiencing joy in the present moment — from getting dressed to cooking dinner — but also in acknowledging those once-in-a-lifetime moments that I never actually lived. National awards, major blog features, and large publication call outs.
Out of body experiences. Present; 1-6 years later.
I didn’t give up
Had I done that, I would have continued to selflessly pursue a position I was too burnt out to fulfill. I stepped down because I loved my employees. I had a responsibility to my investors. And I needed to honor my own well-being.
In a black and white world, I found peace in a murky shade of gray.