Yesterday I read quite a number of articles about the reality of being an entrepreneur and the rise of depression and suicide in those who are trying to make something happen in a start-up. Failure isn’t an option for many, and hours and hours of work can often amass to nothing.
It’s interesting that the honesty stick is being handed around and people are willing to be more open about this topic. It’s been a long time coming. Not everyone is a Zuckerberg, or an Elon Musk.
Trying to make things happen in your career and business is often like slamming your head into a wall to try to make a doorway for yourself.
I worked in a business for fifteen years but one day, after coming away with a depression from trying to make something float through a GFC, I had a breakdown.
I was tired of the pressure, the phone calls, the worry, the sleeplessness, the maxing out on credit and loans. I sold my much loved Cartier watch to get my kid to a compulsory three-month term away at another campus, and I worked any job I could to put food on the table. Nannying, census collecting, cleaning, selling everything I could on Ebay to pay a mortgage and keep my kid in school. You think you know what is tough? Tough is crying while driving and then hitting a pensioners car and finding out your insurance has bounced and you’re no longer covered.
When I read the articles about the truth about business struggle, I felt such deep empathy, it was a visceral pain in my chest.
I started to write a book to stop myself from thinking about where I could get my next mortgage payment from, or how to feed my children, or the best way to leave the party early, the words flowed from me onto the page. They actually poured out of me, and I wrote three books in a year, and in between, got a two-book deal and then an overseas deal, and then a Young Adult book deal, and so it went on.
I said to my therapist that it felt too easy; when all I knew was struggle.
She answered, ‘Not everything has to be hard.’
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about having a bigger, smaller life. This has became my goal when I finally realised I couldn’t stand living in such uncertainty, and I sold our house and let go of any idea of being back in business.
I needed a bigger, smaller life, and writing has given this to me. It’s still uncertain, but it’s not as heavy. I still worry, but less so. I still shop at Aldi, and make my coffee at home, but I also buy peonies when they’re in bloom.
I don’t miss my fancy watch. I don’t miss the labels. I don’t miss the struggle, and I sure as hell don’t miss the burden.
I have fewer friends but those who stuck around cared more about us as people than as a bottom line and when I spend time with them, it’s a beautiful, and truthful experience.
When I look back at the past five years, I now see a veracity in my life, that wasn’t there before. Facebook and Instagram offer us a chance to show the life we think we should be living, but this blog, and others, and any of other the articles about life and business pressure gives us an opportunity to be honest about our lives.
My skills have grown immeasurably in the past years.
I can make a $100 feed a family of five for a week. I can negotiate with anyone. I can write 5000 words in a day. I can work four freelance jobs at once time and still meet my daily word limit on my book. I can fly to Sydney for the day to brainstorm and be back again to make dinner. I can read a blood work result. I can reel off chemo drugs like a freestyle rapper. I can read five books in a week, and come away with thirteen ideas on what to write next. I can parallel park, while calming a beloved on the phone who thinks the cancer is back. I can remember to call a dear friend every week who has cancer. I can remember to call a dear friend every week who doesn’t have cancer. I can drive to the state border with my kid and philosophise over donuts, and I can spend time with new friends over coffee who make me laugh and think.
These are my successes. Not the bank balance, or the labels, or the watches, or any other badge that is deemed socially and economically acceptable.
Be real with yourself. Be honest with your friends and family. Don’t pretend. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for help and change your life, and remember; not everything has to be hard.