I was sitting at the ocean one day in a somber mood frustrated with work and life. I needed a little space and reflection. Every time I’m near the ocean I feel a sense of calmness, strength and perspective. It grounds me. Nature has a way of doing that. I’m only halfway hippie, so I lean into these feelings when they arise. Being an entrepreneur is hard. But nobody really talks about that. It seems like people are “impressed” by it, which feeds my ego so I go with it. But I’ve been able to support myself and sustain a lifestyle, so I must be successful, right? Who am I trying to keep up with anyway?
What makes entrepreneurship so hard? First of all, we are expected to be a Jack/Jane of all trades. We have to learn and do everything ourselves until we have enough capital to hire others to do it. But we learn a lot. The ‘ol addage, “fake it until we make it”, especially during a growing phase is your typical imposter syndrome. We need to sell, grow, and improve…so you tell clients confidently, “oh yea, I got this. of course I can do this for you!” while you’re secretly feeling insecure. But you step up and do it. And do it well because you HAVE to and you know you’ll be better for it.
Most of us become entrepreneurs because we want flexibility with our time. But in the end, we really work more focused hours than the average employee. Because our career is so personal and directly tied to our bank accounts and egos, there is a lot of pressure to produce. And this production also comes with a lot of alone time. There isn’t a large corporate team to bounce ideas off of and help divide and conquer.
Finally, a lot of self-doubt comes in, because we compare ourselves to others’ apparent success. We are constantly challenging ourselves and there is never a dull moment, and it’s exhausting. Having to be “on” all the time. And when the results from your efforts aren’t coming in as quickly or as valued as expected, we have to remind ourselves why we started this path in the first place. I welcome these risks because they are ME. It isn’t for the weak, but I do it so I can be myself.
So, I sat there looking at the ocean in California and decided to write notes that came to my head. All the lessons the ocean teaches me. After all, its lifespan is insurmountably greater than mine, and has seen so much more. I’m just a small spec of existence whose “problems” are quite insignificant. It went something like this…
- The ocean’s vastness gives perspective. These aren’t “problems” I’m having. These are challenges that have been solved MANY times before me. Remind myself how far I’ve come and what I’ve built and be proud.
- No matter what, the waves keep rolling in. They don’t stop, they just keep going. I have to too even when I want to give up, while keeping my goals in mind.
- What goes up must come down. I’ve panicked at times when business is slow, trying to figure out a cause/reason/season. But, when I stay optimistic, shift a little, things always come around. They just do. It’s a basic law of nature.
- Sometimes the same water is clear, and sometimes it’s muddy. It’s the same situation, from a different perspective. Step outside of yourself and take a different approach to solve a problem and find a solution. It’s sometimes right in front of you and just need to trust the process.
- When there is something in the way, the water moves around it. I noticed the water going around small rocks, kelp, whatever. It flows with ease and adapts to it’s surroundings, even though they are ever-changing.
- The ocean is strong. Damn straight. It’s also peaceful. It can be both. I can be both.
- The ocean connects things. It connects lands, countries, life. We are all the same. Trying to do our best and make a living.
I left feeling proud. I AM doing this. I am HER and she can be strong and patient and kind and honest and fair. Day by day, even today, one thing at a time I know more and increase my value. And over the years it’s accumulated and I no longer battle these insecurities. I’ve learned so much and how to balance my work and life but it takes time and self-compassion. I realize how far I’ve come and I know I’m worth it, and that alone, is worth it all.