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Ep #2 – Sara on Sara: Meet your host

So my first guest is myself. Hi! I’m Sara Stanizai. I’m a therapist, business coach, a speaker, and a facilitator. My work focuses on the  African diaspora and particularly the queer and trans community. More broadly, I love working with children of displaced people across the board. People who really feel like they have imposter syndrome. And I love reminding people that impostor syndrome is actually not a syndrome. It’s a reasonable reaction to a world created without you in mind. We’re not supposed to fit in. So we’re not monsters. They are.

I named my podcast You Did That! because I want to celebrate people doing things. And what I want to celebrate today is that I started my own business back in 2018 and specifically that it has allowed me to really return to my own community in such a beautiful and just amazing way. So I consider the starting of my business, technically, I consider it January 8, 2018 and I chose that because that is the day that I got Prospect Therapy’s tax id number. And I was like, it’s official. So it’s no longer me working for someone else. I have my own company to work for it. And I knew very early on who I wanted to work with. And I remember in one of my classes in graduate school. One of our professors said, you know, what is your niche? Who are you going to focus on?  And we students have never been asked that. And every therapist was  just like, I don’t know, I just want to help people. But he really challenges us to keep getting more and more specific, which we really struggled with. But I remember writing it down. I want to work with people whose parents came here from another country and the people I work with are gay and they’re trying to figure out how to tell their parents. And I basically described myself, except I didn’t even know that I was bisexual at the time. And everybody just looked at me like, “Oh, okay, so we’re just working on ourselves then.” And I was like, “No that’s not me. What are you talking about?” I still remember everybody just got silent and they were like, “Oh, damn, okay.” So, I understand the assignment now. But I really feel I didn’t. I had forgotten about that. And then years later, that was ten years before I started my practice, almost 10 years. And I remember that when Prospect Therapy was up and running, I was like, “Oh my gosh! I’m literally helping that exact person.” And I didnt even consciously remember that. You know, things that are important to you stay with you. When I remembered that, I was like, “Oh my gosh! I did that.”  And I realized that this was really a viable thing. And I still remember my first client and that person called me, and we booked our appointment, and I was exactly what they were looking for, and they were who I had called in. And I was like, “Wow! This is a real thing.” And you know, things really get really, really complicated and all the things going through in running a business. But that really made me realize that, Oh! I’m doing this.   

I think when I started, people didn’t really think of it. I got some support, you know, my close friends and people on social media who I actually knew in real life were really supportive. And there was that initial rush of people, all my friends asking if I could be their therapist. And I was like, “No, that’s not how it works, but thank you, I love you, tell your friends.” But aside from that, I think people did not really understand what I was doing. People would say, “Oh! You’re a therapist. Who do you work for?” And I would say, “Oh! I have my own practice.” And they’re like, “Wow! Good for you.”  Not really listening or knowing what all that entails. They just think you put a website up and your phone starts ringing.  Not the case. But I think of those same people, how they see me now. Those people are really close to my heart because they saw me from the very beginning with my five dollar logo I got off the internet. Those people saw me doing all of my networking events, and my workshops, and my free sessions and all the things that it takes to build a business and all those people really contributed. And so I think those same people now, I hope they feel like they were part of this journey and that they helped me build this even if they never booked an appointment with me. So much more goes into entrepreneurship. And I would probably say those people are probably proud of me now. Oh my god that sounds weird, but I think that’s the case. 

My favorite thing that I’ve learned about myself as a result of this process is that I can do difficult things. I can play the long game. I have often felt very impatient and impulsive and I lose interest in things. And if it gets hard, I just kind of put it down and I’m like, I don’t like it any more. And this work has been so important to me and it’s something that I have literally created out of my own blood, sweat, and tears, and late nights, and problem solving, and paying lots of people to like help me and coach me through this. You know, every time I had a new idea, I just kept plugging away at it. And I think my favorite thing that I’ve learned about myself as a result of this is that I actually don’t give up that easily and I work really hard. And I really love the type of leader that I have become. I’ve worked really hard on that aspect because you know when you’re a shy, quiet, really tall kid? You don’t really feel like you can be a leader. You don’t feel like you’ll be taken seriously. That it’s really a privilege to have people put their trust in you. I think that’s also what surprised me the most. 

I think what has surprised me the most honestly is how much my specific personality, my own brand of weirdness, that is what helped me be successful. I used to think that you had to blend in, and you had to be corporate, and you had to wear a really nice suit. And you had to look, and dress, and speak, and act a certain way and there are only certain limits of   parameters that you can work within. And I find that I’m most successful when I do things in a way that only I can do them. And that has been really pleasantly surprising. 

What would my younger self think if they saw me now?  I think that she would think that I was the coolest person ever. And she would really like my hair. She would be glad that I like the same music for the last 25 years. And she would be really excited and she would have no idea how we ended up here. And she will be like, “Wow! You didn’t become like an Elementary School teacher,” which by the way I’ll be terrible at that. I think she will really be surprised  at the turn my life has taken. She would have never thought in a million years that  I would be my own boss. Not along the box of other people. And she would see that I’m still helping people because that’s something I’ve always wanted to do, that I’ve always been a problem solver. And in my own way I guess I am teaching certain things too. That I’m cheerleading other people into their own greatness. She would think that’s pretty cool. 

Thanks for listening! If you have any questions you know where to reach me. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for our next episode with a guest who is ever cooler than I am.

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