The last two months, I’ve talked a lot about the ways working for yourself is hard and overwhelming. I’ve talked about the stresses of running a small business, and about the feeling of failing forward, over and over again. This month, it felt like the sun finally broke through the clouds. It felt as if all the work, and stress, and confusion paid off, and I remembered why I was doing this.
I spent all of last year focused on building APW so I could quit my job. Every single morning, I would hop over the cable car tracks in my high heels, running to my job as a (fancy) secretary—a job I’d taken just so I could fully get APW off the ground. And every single morning as I did that, I’d say a little prayer, “Please, let me sell the book. Please, let me work for myself. Please, let this be worth it.” And then it happened.
But this year has been such a whirl of adjustment that it’s been hard to focus on the fact that I finally got what I wanted. I figured out how to write a book… and wrote a book; I got an office, I gave up an office; I figured out accounting, I fell behind on accounting; I got a staff, I realized I had to learn how to be a boss. It’s been really complicated. And in the midst of that complication, I kept looking back on myself last year and saying, “I got it. Now I’m going to try really hard to enjoy it fully.” But it’s been hard. Complicated.
But this month, when I went to New York City a few days early just because I call the shots in my own life, it really hit me. I worked in the park. I worked in the beautiful public library. And in those moments, the fact that I had earned the freedom to work in the park on a beautiful summer day hit me at gale force. Self-employment wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
And then there was Yay New York. We threw Yay New York in seven weeks, and during that period I consistently felt overwhelmed and like I was failing. Tickets were not selling fast enough. We were not lining up sponsors fast enough. I was afraid I’d taken on too much. But when it came together, it was magic. It made me realize the hugeness of what I’d undertaken this year: the business, the growth of the website, the growth and deepening of this community, and now two weddings and a party. The failure was worth it.
Right now, as this post goes live, I’m far away on vacation. Taking vacation as a self-employed person is hard, and most people I know don’t do it. I spent the week before I left getting three weeks of work done in one week (while recovering from Yay New York). I had to make sure systems were in place for things to run when I was gone. When I get back, I’ll have to catch up. But for me, someone who occasionally has to send business emails at intermission of a Broadway show, it’s necessary. I’m not going to send business emails while on proper vacation; I’ll loose my mind. I’m totally unplugged right now, not checking Twitter, not checking the blog, not checking email. And that’s what is going to give me the power to get through the remaining months of the year, doing what I love.
This month, I was reminded why it was all worth it. And then I took a nap.