Happy last-Monday-before-summer-sabbatical, my friends!
If you read last week’s newsletter, then you know I’m taking a five week break from these Monday morning missives.
As much as it pains me, I really feel that it’s important to practice what I preach when it comes to building a sustainable, well-balanced business and creative practice, and part of that means taking time to reconnect to my own voice and to refill my creativity tank.
I’ll admit though, that doesn’t mean this type of break doesn’t come without its own set of fears.
No matter what stage you’re in with your business (or heck, your life), every few months or years it's like you get issued this shiny NEW set of fears.
You start your business and you have this little arsenal of terrified voices saying:
What if no one buys, what if no one cares, what if I fail, what if I have to pack it up and go back to a 9-to-5 job, what if I’m not good enough, etc.
THEN, once you’ve been at it a while (you’ve experimented and explored, you’ve gotten more comfortable with putting your work out there), it's like you finally graduate from your white belt to getting your yellow belt. You celebrate the quieting of those first fear gremlins to an almost undetectable level and then... SURPRISE! New fears, ahoy!
For me, my Yellow Belt Fears came once Made Vibrant was making enough money every month for me to live on. I was so thrilled that this was actually working, and I celebrated for about half a second before the NEW fear gremlins starting to rear their ugly heads:
What if you make a wrong turn and this all goes away, what if the creative well runs dry, what if they get tired of what you have to say, what if you take a break and they forget about you, etc.
That last one's a doozy for me: What if they forget about you.
For whatever reason, I have this irrational fear that if I take time for myself, if I cut the cord even just a little, that it’ll all come crashing down. I have so much I still want to say, and I guess I'm afraid that one day I'll wake up and have no one to say it TO.
BUT, I’m finally ready to challenge those fears.
I’m ready to unpack them and understand them and DARE them to materialize so that I can prove to myself they’re really just constructions of my insecure psyche.
Despite knowing this is something I’m ready to confront, I still spent last week wondering if I was doing the right thing.
Is it too late to call it off? I have plenty of things to write about! Maybe I’ll just send out an email saying JUST KIDDING and I won’t have to see how it feels to walk away for a few weeks.
Then, last week’s #theimperfectboss campaign happened.
Did you all see this on Instagram? Ashley from Fire & Wind Co. decided to create a 3-day awareness campaign encouraging entrepreneurs to share their vulnerabilities, their confessions and their missteps in an effort to promote REALNESS among a community that is often all glossy, glamorous girlboss stock photos. She wanted to offer up an opportunity for people to share how it ACTUALLY feels to run a business, especially imperfectly (as we all do.)
If you have ever felt alone on your creative journey, I highly recommend scrolling through the hashtag feed because I know it will provide you with an amazing and overwhelming sense of comfort seeing so many fellow solopreneurs post their truths. I found the whole thing very moving. (I shared my own confession here about my tendency to hide behind my confidence in my work rather than my appearance.)
The timing of this movement could not have been better, because as I read through these different fears, post after post after post, it shined a spotlight on this simple truth: We’re ALL scared of something.
We create these stories in our heads and when we hear them enough times in our minds, they feel true.
Now I know many of you on this list are still at Square One, working up the courage to even create in the first place. And I hope you’ve found discovered some of these weekly letters that have brought you one step closer to making that happen and unseating your own White Belt Fears.
But I also know that there is a large group of you that have worked so hard to get to Square Two and you’re desperately afraid, like me, that if you take a week off for vacation, or go silent on social media, or pause for a moment just to BREATHE... that it all might come crashing down.
So I’m taking this break for me AND I’m taking this break for you.
To show you that these stories are just that -- stories.
We as creatives HAVE to find a way to deal with this false belief or we’ll run ourselves ragged.
So...here’s my plan.
I’ve decided to think of myself as a musician (mainly to further indulge my own fantasy of becoming Taylor Swift, OBVIOUSLY...)
Think for a moment about how musicians and recording artists view their work.
They disappear, often for months if not years, to craft and create an entire album. They immerse themselves in their process. They remove themselves from the burden of promotion and performance so they can simply MAKE. They evaporate from radio play and interviews and in many ways they disconnect from the general public.
BUT, when they emerge, they present the public with something they’ve painstakingly created, something they’re proud of as if to say “I went away to make this for you and now here I am again. I hope you like it.”
When Justin Timberlake goes virtually silent musically for 7 years between albums , do we forget how awesome he is? When Adele peaces out for four years to hang with her new baby and write gut-wrenchingly beautiful songs, and then comes back with a new album are we all like... YAWN, Adele, you’re old news.
Because here’s the truth:
Good work is always good work.
A message that resonates is always a message that resonates, whether it’s delivered for 120 weeks straight or not.
Yes, consistency is key in building an audience from scratch, I still believe that. But if you’ve been delivering good work consistently, if you have a mission and a message that connects, taking a break won’t erase that.
The truth is, I’m not taking these five weeks off because I’m tapped out. Quite the opposite actually, I feel more inspired to write than ever.
But, the fact that I don’t feel I NEED this break is all the more reason to take it because I know that the next challenge I need to master in running an authentic business is the challenge of walking away.
Because when we challenge ourselves to do the thing that feels uncomfortable, that usually means we’re growing.
So, that's my small challenge to you this week.
Ask yourself: what do you need to take a break from that you've been too scared to until now?
It might sound cliché, but I seriously am going to miss you guys over the next five weeks!
To tide you over, I hope you’ll download my newsletter e-book by signing up for Self-Made Society below: A Year Made Vibrant, Volume II. There are 65 past newsletters (including this one!) all in a handy PDF format. Read it on your iPad, save it to your desktop and open it up first thing each week, or heck, read one letter every single day for the next month.
Or, ya know, don’t. :)
I’m going to go record my album for a few weeks, and when I come back, I sincerely hope you’ll still be here so I can play my music for you. ;)
I also hope that in the next five weeks you find a way to take some time for yourself as well, even if it feels uncomfortable.
It’s a big, wide world, and yours is a big, wide life -- go live it.
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This post first appeared in my Monday newsletter to Self-Made Society -- Made Vibrant's email community for soulful creatives. Sign up and you'll get instant access to my e-book, A Year Made Vibrant, with 65 of my past weekly newsletters.