A discussion with Nerissa Bradley
Written by: Chloe Corona Yan and Stephanie Andrews
Photography by: Brittany Nguyen
Nerissa Bradley is the founder of Artlet Studio, a movement that focuses on arts and wellness. As a creative entrepreneur, singer, and songwriter, Bradley turns to the arts for healing. It’s her mission to show others the same path.
Like most young adults, Bradley grew up believing that in order to be successful, she needed to be good at school. If you have good grades, study in a great program, and get a good degree - everything will work out. Yet, the more Bradley believed in this process, the unhappier she became. It wasn’t until Bradley let this perception go that she truly discovered her passion.
“I think that in school there was this perception that our grades determined who we are and how our future will go... there’s this natural way that we talk about how our success at school reflect our success in the real world.”
Bradley remembers the moment she gave herself permission to fail. There’s more to success than perfectionism and nothing happens the way we think it will. In fact, Bradley stresses that traditional views of success rob us from true happiness and fulfillment. It’s about letting go of expectations, which although simple, is harder than you may think.
What does Bradley consider as her biggest failure? Dropping out of university. After watching her peers move on to Harvard and successful corporate careers, it was difficult coming to terms with leaving school. But for Bradley, dropping school turned out to be a pivotal moment in her life.
Bradley was able to discover true happiness after leaving her academic career. “Equating my self worth to my success in school was just part of who I was. So dealing with that, leaving that environment, and letting go of who I thought I needed to be was a huge failure,” says Bradley. Although easy to say, taking the entrepreneurial leap is difficult to do. Bradley explains, “I think it’s because you get more of a sense that it’s all on you and that puts a burden of pressure that isn’t there for other things and for other areas in our life.” As a woman, Bradley’s difficulties don’t stop with the pressure she feels on a day to day basis.
“People don’t take me seriously right off the bat. And it’s challenging because I can feel like I need to prove myself in a different way than a man would.”
How can one overcome this? Prove yourself. Let your work speak for you. Bradley doesn’t limit herself when she walks into a room because expectation follows reality. “What I have to monitor is not coming from a place where I need to prove myself in a way that I’m compensating because then I’m losing my power.”
Success to Bradley is “doing what you were born to do and making the greatest contribution possible.” Relating into our tagline, Be the Now, Bradley believes that entrepreneurship is about being present.
“Be here and be here right now and that’s all we ever have, there’s really no other time.”
If Bradley had to describe the entrepreneurial lifestyle in one word, it’s messy. It’s a polished, beautiful mess. It’s not about the successful concerts, speeches, or poems, it’s about the madness behind the scenes. Although hard to grasp, the mess is something we all need to embrace.
When starting out, Bradley confesses that she had no idea how hard taking the leap truly was. She advises that there’s never a right time. People have amazing ideas, but until you dive in and bring it to life, it doesn’t exist. What’s necessary is bringing people on board, planning execution, and going for it.
“It’s okay to learn as you go, that’s the biggest thing. You don’t have to take every course under the sun and get an MBA... you don’t need all these things to push potential failure because you won’t let yourself take the first steps.”
1. Awareness. Self awareness is the key. Learn, build your development and build strong relationships. Continue to discover how you can know yourself better.
2. Work as early as possible. Do different jobs to learn what you like and what you don’t.
3. Don’t wait to start your own thing. Take a risk, make mistakes, and try something that’s important to you.
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