If I never started a small business, I would be totally disillusioned with America.

My parents’ generation still believed in the American Dream to some extent, and that belief was fueled in part by the role of corporations in their lives. From a young age, they were inculcated with the idea that, by working dutifully up the ladder, stability and success would eventually be their reward.

As my generation now knows, that’s rarely the case—large corporations are by definition selfish entities, beholden only to shareholders, never to the people who actually create their value or to the physical environment which allows them to exist. Time and again we’ve seen employees get left behind by the organizations they’ve devoted their lives to.

Coming out of school, I was eager to work on a small scale, to build something of my own. Of course, I was tempted by the potential of a Serious Professional Career™ one that afforded the salary and benefits I’d need to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Crushing student loan debt and a lack of savings left me, I thought, with no other option.

But the idea that I would be stuck using my absurdly expensive education in service of big box retailers and financial services clients, speaking in inane and duplicitous jargon, spending an unreasonable amount on clothes and my appearance in general, judging the success of a project by the quality of the business class flights and boutique hotels I expensed, or the table massages and fancy lunches paid for by my employer…

I simply couldn’t hack my way through it. And while starting a business was frightening at first, and certainly lead to a monastic lifestyle for a few years, it soon became incredibly freeing. Now I have a sense of flexibility, self-determination, and creative control—benefits vastly preferable to massages. And I sleep comfortably knowing I’m not at risk of suddenly losing my job if the market tanks, the bubble bursts, or another runaway metaphor occurs that I have no control over.