Writing My Own Story

Jana Iris
5 min readMar 8, 2022

A woman I admire posted a tweet today in celebration of Women’s International Day, and it inspired me to write this post. It seems fitting on this day to announce that I’ve officially kicked off changing my last name to “Iris.”

For most of my life, I was a supporting character in my own story. I lived my life based on what I was supposed to do, and I was afraid to stray from the prescribed path. Growing up as a child of immigrant parents and splitting my time between the US and Eastern Europe shaped the way I thought I was supposed to live my life. It pains me to say this, but my whole life I was taught my purpose should be to find a man, get married, and have children. My grandmother taught me how to cook, clean, sow, grow my own vegetables, pluck a chicken, kill a rabbit, chop wood, and how to take care of the people around me. Yes, I have skills people don’t know about. I watched how my mom and grandmother did everything for the family, sacrificing so much but never once complaining about it. I don’t remember them ever taking solo vacations or buying something nice for themselves. Whatever money they made went straight to the family. I deeply love and respect them for that.

As a child growing up in the US during the ‘90s and early ‘00s, this type of thinking was reinforced by society as well. It was engrained in our culture. We would see this played out over and over again in movies, advertising, magazines, etc. Women were rarely the main characters. We were always supporting characters in other people’s lives. We were rarely shown that there were other non traditional paths we could take.

When I got into my first serious relationship at 24, I took on the same role as my mother and grandmother because that was all I knew. I cooked, cleaned, took care of the house, and watched our dogs while he traveled, spoke at conferences around the world, and his career took off. I had a job but it wasn’t my focus. I knew one day we were going to get married, and he would take care of us. We had a beautiful life. We lived in San Francisco, we had great friends, we’d throw BBQs at our house, we’d go skiing on the weekends, and we traveled the world together. Five years into our relationship, we bought this 1920s art deco ring. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. We talked about getting married in Greece. We deeply loved each other. He said he’d have kids for me. I knew when we got married that I was going to change my last name to his. My whole identity was wrapped around being Atmos’ girlfriend and, one day, his wife. I should have been happy. This was what society told me my life should look like. But I was deeply depressed. Looking back now, I was a shell of a human. I had no idea who I was. I hadn’t lived yet. I was a supporting character in someone else’s life.

So, one day I ended it. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do because I loved him. I was 29 at the time. I found a three-month sublet on Craigslist in New York City. Two weeks later, I moved across the country with a suitcase. (Here’s a post I published the day I landed in NYC.) I was terrified. I couldn’t actually afford to live there at that time. I used all my savings to pay the deposit and rent. I knew no one in the city. I was leaving my love, my family, and my life. I didn’t know how to be alone, but every part of my being was telling me I needed this change.

My best girlfriends supporting me during the HashiCorp IPO. I dubbed them IPO-maids.

That was six years ago. Today, I’m an executive at a technology company. I published a book. I’m an advisor and investor in early-stage tech startups. The last startup I previously worked at went public a few months ago. I’m happily single. I’ve traveled the world and built deep friendships along the way. I’ve made New York City my home. I have so much love in my life. I’m happy. Most importantly, I’ve become the main character in my own story. I’m living a life that is authentic and real to me. I’m free.

This month, I kicked off legally changing my last name. I don’t know if I will ever get married, and it seems silly to wait for that milestone. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a few years. I love my father, but I’ve never been close to his side of the family. My values never aligned with theirs. As I live my life, write my own story, and build a legacy, I don’t want to continue doing that with the Boruta name. No name ever resonated with me until last summer when one of my best girlfriends named her daughter Elle Iris. I accidentally kept calling her daughter Iris and realized how much I loved that name and the meaning of it. In Greek mythology, Iris was a goddess who carried women’s souls into the afterlife. The name literally means rainbow. That’s also my mission in life. I want to support, mentor, invest in, and uplift all the women I encounter in my life. I want us all to be the main characters in our stories and to have the power to accomplish that. This is something I’m dedicating more and more of my time to and what I want to do for the rest of it.

Hi. I’m Jana, Jana Iris.

Please reach out to me if you ever need career advice, mentorship of any kind, someone to be a sounding board, or just a friend. You can find me on Twitter or add me on LinkedIn.

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Jana Iris

Investor at TQ Ventures. Ex-HashiCorp, from tenth employee thru IPO. Builder of developer communities.