The Privilege of Building
"The Privilege of Building"
Lately when someone asks me how I’m doing re:Metric, I give a laugh and respond with variations of ‘getting beaten black and blue everyday, and turning up again the next morning for more’. In my head, my response is genuine and honest, because I feel too many times us founders pretend the journey is easier than it actually is, and in doing so, set a very wrong and needlessly glamorous image of what building a startup looks like. In my head, I’m being upfront about what actually happens on the inside - 5000 fires to put out everyday, a new ‘surprise’ ready when you least expect it, and a lot of back-breaking work that doesn’t seem to end. The overwhelming highs when you hit your targets, coupled with the extreme stress of building a passportable company and competing on a global stage. I don’t like to pretend I have all the answers when I don’t. And I don’t want to lure in anyone who may not be ready for this journey.
But then I met a young friend recently at a wedding, and he said ‘well, it’s awesome that at least someone from among us got to do this’. He meant someone from among our neighborhood crowd from G-10/3, Islamabad. For context, G-10 has always been considered an area that ‘doesn’t feel like Islamabad’. This was the sector for the salaried, not-moneyed working class. All of our parents moved there from different cities, leaving behind extended families, to create our own mixed-caste family of neighborhood aunties and uncles. The majority of kids went to government schools, or lower-priced private schools. Those of us that went to slightly pricier schools did so on scholarships. Most women got married young, and definitely did not pursue careers. This was a proper ‘middle class’ neighborhood, with all the perks, expectations, and limitations that comes with being middle class in Pakistan. For eighteen years, from the age of 5 to 23, this was home.
My friend's comment led me to spend the weekend analyzing what I will call the privilege of building. To be able to decide that I wanted to dedicate the next couple of decades, atleast, to solve a problem I feel passionately about. To be able to spend all my waking hours obsessing over just this one problem, and have the structures in place that allow me to do this. To be able to conceive something and have it come alive in front of my eyes - not once, but over and over again, on a daily basis. To be able to choose who our work family is, to be able to work with the most awesome people we can find, and to learn from them. To be able to dream of changing the world with these people, and to live long enough to see the dream starting to come true.
To be able to build is a privilege I will never take lightly. What a truly glorious way to live.