You Don't Need Permission to Act



by Courtney Sanders

I chuckled as I scrolled through the old photos, both amused and slightly embarrassed.

The lighting was poor. A thick, black cable cord lay visibly on the ground. A cheap plastic vase with a fake purple orchid sat awkwardly on the windowsill. And there I was, in the middle of this makeshift scene, trying my best to artfully look away from the camera. Lips pursed. Gaze aloof. Hands on hips.

“I cannot believe people actually bought from me…” I murmured while staring at my computer screen, aghast at the amateurishness of the whole setup

But buy they did.

As I continued to poke through my old eBay listings, cringing at all the shots of me modeling vintage clothing for sale, I also found old reviews, left by my former customers.

“Cute dress, very fast shipping! A+ seller!”

“I love the Lacoste sweater! Great buy!”

“Cute skirt! Will buy from seller again.”

Four years ago, I made myself the model, the photographer, and the stylist for the fledgling online vintage clothing business I ran out of my small bedroom. As a struggling college student with a heap of credit card debt and barely enough money for food, I got the bright idea to sell cute clothing I found at thrift stores when brainstorming ways to make extra money. Much to my surprise at the time, my humble venture ended up a moderate success. The money I made from my little eBay business, in part, helped me pay off my credit card debt by the time I graduated college.

Ever since graduating and moving on with life, I’ve always thought the lesson from that past experience was simply “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” At the time, I was in a financial jam so I used the resources available to me to help change my situation. That’s pretty much all there was to it.

Or so I thought.

Don't Wait for Permission

As I looked through all my old eBay listing photos, scrutinizing the fact that the lighting wasn’t quite right or that my modeling of the clothing wasn’t that good, over and over again I thought “Where on earth did I get the idea I could do this?!?”

Then it hit me that this was the deeper lesson: no one gave me the idea I could do it. No one gave me “permission.”

I decided I could successfully sell clothes online, and I decided I could do it with the resources I had. So often, we limit ourselves because we think we need the right “this” or “that”, or we are waiting for someone to give us the go ahead.

You don’t need permission. You already have it.

If there's a new lesson I've learned from reflecting on my adventures in side hustling, it's this: what you have right now is good enough. You don’t need permission. You already have it. The only person who can give you permission is you.

At what point in your life have you ever felt like you needed validation to act on your dreams or make the first step achieving your goals?