First off, I would like to thank everyone who read and responded to my last column on Medium, How I got over a crappy 2016. Since that posting, I have recieved several responses via Facebook Messenger, text, and email from entrepreneurs and creatives from across the country. You guys not only thanked me for sharing my story, but you also provided insight into your own stores and paths. You shared their feelings of being alone, your fears of the future, and their uneasiness of being open about your situations with their peers.

For a lot of us, our path is a frustrating journey. We must balance our ambition with the realities of bills and expenses. We spend time questioning our life decisions and stressing over your future. If you’re like me, there is a constant internal battle between the “safe” route — working a 9 to 5 and making a decent living — or the risk, and everything that comes of it.

The venues to have an honest conversation about mental heath in this country are few and far between. Entrepreneurial spaces tend to downplay any conversation around failure — you can’t exactly talk about how you can’t pay the rent while you’re pitching your startup at a networking group. Finding these conversations has even been difficult on Medium, a space that should embrace such dialogue.

But just because the spaces may not exist, doesn’t mean that we aren’t having the same issues. Somewhere in this world, there is someone out there going through the same thing you are — a friend, a colleague, maybe even your investor or boss. If you look outside you wouldn’t know — we have to put on armor every day to hide these struggles because our livelihoods depend on it.

I’ve spent 2016 being way more open about my personal shortfalls, and I’ve spent many years surrounding myself around like minded, open and honest people. It’s essential, as we create our paths, to add as many of these people to our circles as possible and enrich our personal and professional well-being.

Being open is hard. It requires you to go against human nature. It reveals your insecurities and vulnerabilities. But for myself, it’s been a Godsend.

One of my personal goals this year is to continue to provide a space — both online and offline — for myself and others to share our experiences. Please keep the responses and feedback coming and I hope to have more announcements soon.

Winston “Stone” Ford is a digital strategist, programmer, and entrepreneur based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @thisisstone.

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Digital producer and strategist. Entrepreneur consultant. Music nerd.

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