Megan Gonzalez is the type of person you want to hang out with all of the time. She’s hilarious, and even when you aren’t sure if what she said was funny—she’s already laughing at herself, leaving you no choice but to laugh along with her. For my first episode of Gutted, she joins me from her home studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she works as the master creator for MaeMae & Co., a company she founded nearly nine years ago. Before our interview, Megan shared with me that the weather was far below zero and she was wearing three long-sleeved shirts and two pairs of pants. She said this with a slight air of insecurity, but her body language showed nothing as such. Her bright smile, warm demeanor, and unabashed ability to share on contemplative topics make it obvious that this is a woman filled with wisdom even if she can’t quite see it herself.
Megan shares the story of the birth and growth of her business. She founded MaeMae & Co. immediately upon graduating from college and spent the next two years working as her own boss in a self-proclaimed “unpaid internship.” It was during these two years that she earnestly said “yes” to everything that was presented to her, not wanting to miss out on a potential experience, client, or opportunity for growth. What she found at the end of those two years, like so many entrepreneurs trying to make it in the world, was that her workload far exceeded the hours in her day. In order to meet all of her deadlines, she estimated that she would have to work twenty-four hours a day for an entire month.
To me, this is the part of Megan’s story where she began to lose touch of her instinct. At one point in the interview, she states with unquestioning clarity, “I know I was put on this earth and carefully created to create.” In his book Creating Affluence, Deepak Chopra states, “We are here to fulfill a purpose. It is up to us to find out what that purpose is. Once we know our purpose then the knowledge of one’s purpose leads the insight that we are true potentiality.”
What happened at the end of her first two years of work is that she was being asked by her inner wisdom to take a step back, reflect, and wisely choose how she wanted to move her business forward. However, like so many of us that feel our sense of worthiness is based on what we do rather than who we are, she felt like her choice was driven by external forces. In order to maintain her reputation and the name she had created for herself, she had to grow her business. So, she ignored her instinct and spent the next several years hiring multiple employees, renting out expensive work studios, and oftentimes choosing her work as a priority over her relationships, life experiences, and her own self-care. It wasn’t until years later and some miraculously dramatic signs from the universe that she began to reevaluate her business plan.
Toward the middle of the interview, Megan and I talk about the power of our own egos and what drives them. Our society is set up to make us feel important and of value through external acknowledgment and praise. So few of us have been taught skills in inner-confidence and self-love, so when we are in a state of growth and trying to prove ourselves to the world, it’s almost inevitable that our small ego self will set out on a journey to find affirmation from others. Megan states, “Doing and making doesn’t stem from wanting praise, but I think taking too much on or making things in a way that is not true to what I am capable of is always driven by wanting accolades.”
This insight is such a perfect example of when our ego has accomplished what it has set out to prove—that we are lacking, incomplete, or not whole. In the Power of Now, author Eckhart Tolle describes how people who are consciously or subconsciously operating from their egoic mind “will often enter into a compulsive pursuit of ego-gratification and things to identify with in order to fill this hole they feel within. So they strive after possessions, money, success, power, recognition, or a special relationship, basically so that they can feel better about themselves, feel more complete.” Megan’s experience mimics a cry that we can all relate to—what do I have to do and who do I have to prove myself to in order to feel good enough?
At the end of the interview, I ask Megan if she has any nuggets of wisdom to pass on from the experience of not listening to her gut and inner knowing as she grew and scaled her business into something she couldn’t afford or manage. Now, after largely reducing the size of her business and both the clients and projects that she chooses to take on, she confidently shares what she is in the process of discovering for herself:
“Listening and trying to define who I am versus what I do, because I think if you try to define what you do and that’s who you are, what you do can be taken away from you so fast. If you work at a company, you can lose your job. If your [work] requires certain parts of your body, you can lose those. Try to define who you were meant to be.”
Whether she’s dressed in eighteen layers of wool, teaching a watercoloring class, or styling photos, Megan brings a breath of insight-filled fresh air to a world that is fueled by doing. As she slowly begins to reclaim her instinct step-by-step, she demonstrates how one can move beyond the suffering that can come from making decisions based on outside stressors, and the peace that can be found once you find your way back home to your true self.