There are many people who tell me they envy my life. They love the freedom and adventure of it, they say. They tell me the stories and ideas and conversations are so interesting. I am lucky. My days are filled with interesting people, and discussions about passion, and it’s been a long time since I’ve faced the indignity of a timed restroom break.
All that said, I think there are some things that are hard to convey. A person who is following their passions and living some version of their dreams doesn’t want to complain, and it’s hard to explain anyway. There is a lot of loneliness involved. Sometimes, I wonder if today’s world of personal brands only amplifies that tendency. In reality, while I have “no boss”, I have a lot of bosses. I don’t always set my schedule, and often when I want a meeting, everyone else is at work. Some days, the routine of an office job and a regular paycheck sounds as enticing as it is elusive (I’m just not wired for it, but I’m jealous of people who are).
No one tells you about worrying over all the people you’ve brought on board, and whether you’re doing right by them. No one tells you about worrying when you can’t get people on board. No one tells you that the worlds of entrepreneurship and NGO’s can be frustratingly exclusive. No one tells you that every request for support is really a competition. No one tells you that, when you ask for investment or backing, often you will be asked to prove you have investment and backing. No one explains that you will simultaneously be asked to demonstrate your willingness to personally sacrifice, while also being required to maintain a certain material status quo to live up to peoples’ expectations. No one tells you about the pressure of “being the brand”, or worse, what happens when something comes up that forces your personal brand to start from scratch (like a stalker…ask me how I know…). No one addresses the gnawing self-doubt that can come up when someone does get behind you, and you want to be worthy of that trust. No one talks about the frustration of the war between your inner perfectionist and the pragmatic need to create imperfect momentum (though I may one day be an expert at making videos without a camera) No one tells you how terrifying it can be to establish a direction, when there are infinite paths to a goal. No one tells you how haunting it can be to only help some. (For sure, no one talks about the cruel irony of planning to live in your car, and the car promptly dying a violent death with you inside.)
All of those things are lonely. They are the late-night mullings, the space-staring thoughts, and the drive-time ponderings. Maybe you can identify with them, but even if you can’t, I encourage you to think of them when you see someone trying to build or striving to make a change. And, it’s because of these things, as well as the amazing heart and ideas of the people that often face them that I encourage you to check out the #Solvey participants. They are people trying to change the world in tangible ways. There were a lot of them, I know, but if they are anything like me (and they must be, right?) even a kind word can be a huge encouragement. Not to mention the enormous courage it takes to admit that something matters to you, and not just any something, but something bigger than you can approach alone. Even if you only have time and energy to watch a single video or send a single supportive tweet, please do.