Getting Beat Up

Today I went to visit my elderly uncle. I’ve written about him before and today he imparted some more wisdom that I would like to share.

He’s 81 years old and is very gentle in nature. As long as I’ve known him or known of him, over 30 years, he’s always been the same. He’s not the guy who was a jerk before who became gentle. It’s just his nature.

Today, I talked to him about the challenges of entrepreneurship and having faith in myself.

He laughed very heartily, like I had told him a very funny joke.

“Do you know how many people have been beat up, so many times? And they just kept on trying. That’s what you will do.”

He said it with a level of confidence and surety that I honesty don’t always have about being an entrepreneur. Wait, I’m just kidding. That was an understatement. He seemed sure and I feel the exact opposite. But I’m still trying anyway.

I talked to him briefly about the often times crippling fear of uncertainty.

Again, he laughed, this time louder, and said: “You ever sit around and think about how every time you thought something was so messed up and some kind of way you figured it out?”

MIND. BLOWN.

No, my dear, ancient and wise uncle, I do not sit around and think about my successes. I have too many failures and near misses to think about!

That’s what I wanted to say, but I realized I was/am a silly worry wart and my uncle was right.

Trying is hard. Change is hard. Trying to do something new is hard. Failure is hard. But, for me, so is wishing for something different or settling for mediocrity.

Nowadays, I have no idea what’s going on in almost any aspect of my life. Everything from my health to my paychecks have big ass questions marks floating around them.

But, I’m doing it. I’m making it. I’m unsure, but I’m not dead yet. And if I wake up tomorrow again, not dead, then I have another opportunity to figure things out.

Take it from an 81 year old man: you can do it and it’ll be better than you thought, if you try.

Good luck…

Until tomorrow my friends…

What It’s Like: Being an Entrepreneur

It’s horrible. The END.

 

Wait, sorry, please come back, and I’ll tell you what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. And, before you stop reading, this is not some post trying to sell you a class on entrepreneurship. This is just an honest, one woman account of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.

First, a little bit of my backstory.

I guess I could say that entrepreneurship is in my blood and my nature. My father was an entrepreneur for as long as there are stories about him, at least the ones that I have heard. I did not grow up around him, but I know some things about his entrepreneurial adventures.

My father owned a nightclub, neighborhood grocery store, and a mechanic / tire shop. My mother told me that she had no idea why he owned a nightclub; he did not like people and he especially did not like drunk ones. I suppose that I get my misanthropy and dislike for alcohol through my father’s blood line.

All of his businesses were successful and he was successful. He lived well and drove nice cars and had a nice house. I never saw the inside of the houses or the car, at least in my memory, but I have heard about them.

My elderly uncle once told me a story about how my father was also kind of a shrewd / asshole / rule following kind of guy. My uncle said that once, a guy went into my father’s grocery store and practically begged him to let him buy beer on a Sunday. My father told him no, and didn’t budge.

I am starting to see a theme here: I look like my mother, but the inside of my head and the darkness of my soul are thanks to my father. I would have done the same thing, if it were me. Get out of here with your Sunday beer money, sir. Come back when the laws change, duh!

I’ve never had much interest in rule or law breaking unless it’s speeding while driving. I just cannot stand to go 35 mph. I simply must go 38 mph. Call me a rebel.

My own foray into entrepreneurship began in middle school. In between the bell rings for us to change classes, I sold cookies to the greedy and hungry kids. I even sold them after I was caught with “contraband” and sent to the principal’s office. I retract my previous statement about not breaking rules. Those rules would have negatively impacted my business. So, perhaps, I would have sold that guy a beer on Sunday.

I majored in Business and Entrepreneurship in college. Then, one day, years after graduating from college the first time and the second time, I had a dream of opening a bakery.

Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of opening a bakery. The idea of it is crystal clear in my head. I even recruited a friend to help me figure out numbers, costs, all this stuff. It’s a somewhat secret dream of mine (as in everyone I know knows about it), and I would like to make it happen one day, hopefully soon.

But for now, my life as an entrepreneur is based on the reality of needing money and paying bills, you know the unsexy stuff. Right now, I am loosely a writer (kind of) and I work for clients. It is terribly unsexy, but it is a good way to put my pinky toe into the world of being a bonafied business owner, a self employed guru in the making.

So, what’s it like?

IT IS TERRIFYING.

I do not have the finger strength to write all the things I could write about the fear I have experienced and continue to experience as an entrepreneur. When you’re first starting out, the learning curve is so steep, that you just have to commit to feeling like you’re drowning. You might feel like that for the foreseeable future. So, commit to being uncomfortable and get on with it.

YOU ARE NOT SLEEPING ALL DAY.

This past week, I have worked so much that I couldn’t even turn my brain off. So, even when I was asleep, I was still having some weird dreams about due dates and such. I barely took lunch breaks and I certainly was  not napping!

YOU WORK NO MATTER WHAT.

Sick days? GTFOH. Pain? Work anyway. Tummy aches? Work anyway. Sick and tired? Get your ass to the desk.

THERE IS ALWAYS WORK TO DO.

As a service based entrepreneur, it’s kind of like feast or famine. You either have so much work that you want to run away or there’s no work and you consider becoming a street beggar or gypsy.

YOUR BRAIN IS RARELY OFF.

See above explanation.

IT IS REWARDING.

Yay! The “man” is YOU. You get to boss yourself around and make yourself miserable! It’s great.

YOU HAVE SOME FREEDOM.

Unless you’re farther down the entrepreneurial road than I am, then there’s not a shit ton of freedom. You have to find your own customers, please the customers, deliver the product or service. Basically, you might be able to work from 9:48 am – 7:02 pm, but you’re still bound by your need to make your business successful.

YOU HAVE ALL OF THE RESPONSIBILITY.

This one is a doozie. It is both liberating and misery inducing. You are the king of the castle and it’s great until you realize that all of the knights and peasants are looking at you to direct the show.

 

With all of those things in mind, I am still incredibly fortunate to even have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. My route to entrepreneurship was convoluted and almost terrifying (to say the least), but I am happy to be on this road.

Enough talking to you; I’ve got to get back to alternating between working and crying in the corner.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

PS! Are you an entrepreneur? If so, what’s your business? Leave me a comment below!

The Game of Life

I don’t remember how to do it.

For the life of me, I can’t remember how to do it. I can’t remember how to hold in my laughter when kids are being hilarious.

For several years, I was a public elementary school teacher. I was the queen of the stone face. When they farted, I didn’t laugh. When they said mean, but hilarious, things about each other, my face was stone. But tonight, holding in my laughter caused me to choke.

But then, she said it, “I will trade you! I will trade you if you keep playing.”

“No,” I said calmly, trying to mask my disappointment. I wanted to say, so badly, GOT DAMN IT YOU ARE WINNING FAIR AND SQUARE! DO NOT TRADE YOUR POSITION!

I didn’t yell that because these were just two kids, playing a game of “Chutes and Ladders”, the sister wiping the floor with the brother; the brother becoming so angry that he called it “the worst game of his life.” He might be right; he’s only 12.

He did not want to play anymore and his sister was heartbroken. I gave her a ball as a consolation prize; she had won after all, fair and square. But, she was sad that her brother didn’t want to play anymore.

She thought, because she was winning and was playing fair, that he, too, should do the same.

Sometimes, life is like that, too. In my experience, countless times, I just wanted to grab life by the neck and yell BUT THIS ISN’T FAIR!

Hey life! Don’t you see that I am trying? I am forgiving. I am funny. I am thoughtful. I am working to be better! I am working so hard. I am sober; I am always on time. I am all these things. I am dependable. I am the best friend I know how to be. I am the friend that I would want for myself! Got dammit life, don’t you see how hard I’m trying?!

But, often times, life has just smiled at me, patted me on the metaphorical head, and continued handing my ass to me. In this game, the option to not play is too dire; I have no desire to stop playing, but oh my god, I do wish it was fairer sometimes.

But, it is not.

Whether you’re winning at life, fair and square, life is ALWAYS going to be the victor, in the end. We can’t beat it. We can’t plan for every thing. Where there are ladders, there are inevitably chutes. You might fall down so many chutes that you forget what a ladder looks like. You might fall down chutes enough times that you begin to walk past the ladders, with fear holding your hand, carefully guiding you past even the chance to consider an opportunity to climb again.

Life isn’t like a great vending machine; you can’t put in your share and get something that is fair and expected in return.

Sometimes, I have put in quarters and gotten back flaming bags of dog shit. Sometimes, I have put in quarters and gotten back a perfect pair of black leather boots, you know, the kind that don’t pinch your feet and make you look so chic? Or, something like the equivalent of that.

Sometimes, I didn’t even have the option to trade my position. Sometimes I have given out my position, usually in the form of my heart or my trust, only to have it rejected. Sometimes I have given the very best I had to offer, and life simply told me, cold-heartedly and without flinching, that my best wasn’t enough this time.

It’s a hard lesson to learn. It’s not even really a hard lesson. It’s really just the game of life. It’s just how it is.

We play; we try; we give up our position; we plead, sometimes we beg. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough.

Until tomorrow, my friends…