To me, entrepreneurship has been a (metaphorical) slap-in-the-face of all the things I need to learn about myself in this season of life.
I'm learning that I'm critically afraid of disappointing others.
I'm learning that I have highly unrealistic expectations for myself.
I'm learning that I'm fearful of not having control.
I'm learning that I don’t reaaaally know how to take care of myself.
I'm learning just how often I get in my own way.
I’ve been able to outrun some of these since I was a kid in my indoor light-up sneakers, but some of them are fun (!!!) new discoveries. Regardless of when they were uncovered, I’m now suckered into handling all of them with great care.
Entrepreneurship has graciously offered me up a serving of exhaustion and burnout — which means I either work my way through said ‘hurdles’, or I find myself lost in the waves of distress and unfulfillment.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve given discounts because I’m afraid of what the customer might think of the final bill. I’ve had a pit in my stomach when someone asks for something I don’t offer or something I’ve run out of. I’ve said yes to tasks I don’t have capacity for, and then endure them while sitting in my own resentment. I have struggled to take time away from the business with the assumption it would let down customers and clients.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve received dozens of compliments on the food I’ve made, the effort I’ve put in or the business I’ve created — and I’ve really struggled to believe any single one of them. As it turns out, it’s nearly impossible to believe it from others when you have a personal list of reasons why you’re not quite good enough for yourself. From organizing the shelves at the café to expanding services to being a better employer/leader/community member, there’s a long list of incomplete tasks and responsibilities that linger in my mind, snag my energy and act as the reminder that I’m not yet deserving.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve had raging headaches that have kept me from opening my business on a given day. I’ve been in battle with my body; not as much in the way that it looks, but more in the way that it feels, only to be made worse by the long days where I bypass breaks, rest or a single deep breath. I struggle to notice my needs in order to ask myself, or others, to meet them. I’m reminded that fulfillment and joy doesn’t come through a checklist, and taking wholehearted care of myself is something I really have to work to understand, and work to obtain.
As I think this through and type this out, so much of it sounds absurd, even to me as the one actually experiencing it. It might seem like you or I could offer some rather simple advice to help in my challenges.
Morgan, chill the f*ck out. It’s just a small business.
Morgan, give yourself a break. It’s just work.
Morgan, take care of yourself. It’s just a job.
And, you’d be right, I should — but like most things, it’s nuanced. I think and feel and do as I do not because of the 18 months of business, but because of the 27.5 years that came before it.
However, in big news, I’ve recently noticed new thoughts and actions that miiiiiight just suggest I’m turning a corner and better able to cope with all of the above. Perhaps 18 months of experience is what it takes to provide an ounce of confidence in this new role and season of life.
It’s all a work in progress, but I’m learning what I need, when I need it, and how to fulfill it. I’m learning to manage all the imperfection, and actually be on the journey. I’m learning that disappointing others is only to be expected if I’m going to wholeheartedly take care of myself. I’m learning to acknowledge and share the weight of the fears — like this, right now — rather than just overthink them all to myself.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve been lost, and I’ve been learning.