“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail always from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
Today I feel small. I don’t feel like seizing the day. “Carpe Diem” feels like an old, tired cliche. Today I can’t help but feel that no matter how hard I try — that none of the caring and giving a damn and hustling and doing — mean a damn thing.
Five years of doing my own thing and running my own business. What do I have to show for it? From the outside looking in — probably a lot. A 28 year old lad who’s accomplished something that many — most — only dream of. And yet, more often than not, no amount of perspective can keep me from thinking that this feels far from any kind of dream — quite the contrary, it feels like, at times, a nightmare I can’t escape.
I don’t know what’s worse — the pressures put on me by the “outside” or the pressure I put on myself. I demand so much for myself — and yet it feels like I’m simply doing my job — doing what I’m supposed to do. I don’t feel like someone who should be admired. I don’t feel like my path is one to be idealized or modeled from. I’m just another guy trying to make a buck. I’m just another guy fucking up. I’m just doing the best I can with the opportunities I have.
The journey — my journey — of an entrepreneur and as an entrepreneur has been far from glamorous. My health — my relationships — friendships — anxiety — depression — hell, even sanity, have all been impacted. The stress has gotten to be more than I openly admit, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to the evening beer for no other reason than to pretend that the world around me isn’t crumbling. Isn’t crashing and burning. To find a the simple solace that sometimes only exists in the bottom of a pint glass.
And there I go again being dramatic as hell. At least I’m self-aware enough to appreciate that I love an extra adjective here and there. An additional qualifier to describe my despair or elation. What would you expect from someone who refers to life as a “journey”. Clearly, reading Joseph Campbell back in my college days had a lasting impact..
To some extent, though, we’re all looking for an escape. An escape from the day to day. An escape from what we’re “supposed” to do. An escape from what the rest of the world tells us is right — or wrong. Some of us look for it in the bottom of a pint glass. Some of us see it ahead of us on a run. Some of us scrawl our escape on the words of a page. The blinking cursor begging you to type just one more word. Just one more idea. Just one more…something that feels right.
We keep going.
The people we admire. The individuals we respect. Those we envy. They are not immune to what I feel — what you feel — what we all feel.
Exchanging eye contact with someone who sits across the room from me at a coffee shop, I can’t help but wonder what they’re life is like — and if they heard my thoughts, read my words…would they think I’m crazy?
Maybe I am crazy. Maybe they’re crazy. Maybe we all are.
Through it all, I keep going. The only accolade I deserve is that no matter what, I will without a doubt keep going. I’ll keep hustling. I’ll keep grinding. I’ll no doubt keep screwing up. I’ll no doubt piss some people off and let some people down. But god damn, I’ll keep going. Hashtag self-affirmation.
In a conversation the other day a friend said, “you must be comfortable working with yourself” — no one will believe in your dream until that dream becomes a reality. At least, not like you want them to. Not like you may expect.
Respect, trust, and support from others should never be expected and must always be earned. [tweet this]
This is what I’ve come to realize in my pursuit of “meaningful work”. In my journey of discovering how not to balance, but blend, work and life.
Early on I assumed others would join me in my quest and set sail with reckless abandon. But, just like me, they’re concerned for their own well being — their own dreams — their own plans. They, too, want to design the best life for themselves.
My circumstances — through growth, stumbling, falling, and picking myself up again, have led me to be more jaded than I’d like. It’s impacted my trust in other humans. It’s left me thinking…I’m the only one who can get things done. I’m the only one who can do it right. I can do it better and faster than you. I’m the only person I can count on.
But I’ve realized that it is literally impossible to build a company — build a dream, alone. Or at least, that going it alone isn’t worth it. The expectation shouldn’t be and can’t be that others will come along for the ride without question. The expectation ultimately falls to me as the driver of the car — and embracing that some may come along for the ride and get off at the next exit, while others will ride shotgun forever.
So the question you must ask and answer for yourself — the question I’ve been faced with time and time again:
“Am I going to keep going — keep moving — keep putting one foot in front of the other — keep driving — even when no one else is willing to join me?”
I was once like that. Unhindered, unrestrained, and a bit more adventurous. But work and life have a funny way of testing you — to see if you’re willing to follow the tracks — challenging you to pave your own way when there are no tracks in sight. Even when you lose your sense of direction entirely. Should you continue the adventure? Can you find your way back? Can you find your way forward? Can you keep going? Should you?
The answer, of course, is “yes”. Because…what other option do you have?
You can break down and hide while the world keeps living — while everyone else keeps moving — or you can live right along with them.
Not only live alongside the other hustlers, creatives, and dreamers — who — keep in mind — are going through just as much, if not more, struggles as you are (though the fantasized and filtered online world would leave you to believe otherwise) — you can LEAD.
You can create a life for yourself — because you want it, for yourself. Not because others believe in it. Not because you’re “supposed to”. Not because others will join you. But because you care too damn much not to do it.
Moving your idea from “in here” (your head) to “out there” (the real world) and building your tribe becomes inherently simpler when you believe fully and confidently in yourself. When you’re so passionate about your ideas that you can’t not share them with everyone — anyone — who will listen.
As I started typing these words, I felt small. I felt like a failure. A new day that seemed overwhelming and impossible lied in front of me. So I escaped. I started writing. I’m still writing. I’ll keep writing until it doesn’t feel right.
That’s what artists do. That’s what entrepreneurs do. That’s what we all do. We fuck up and make shit. We keep screwing things up until we get it right. We keep going.
Even when the tracks ahead are impossible to see. Even when the compass has steered you in the wrong direction. Even when no one else cares. Even when no one else notices. Especially when no one else notices.
We keep going.