An Open Letter to Momtrepreneurs & Side Hustlers
Warning: this is a long post that's been marinating for a while. Thanks for sticking with me to the end.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty for a sweet minute, friends. To all of you balancing a full-time job/part-time job/relationship/child(ren)/pets/major projects and something else (likely another one of those things just mentioned), you are doing great work. Your efforts are worthy and noticed and, dare I say, appreciated.
All of the things you want might not be in balance, in fact, you might not be in balance, but you are making progress. You are getting something done, you are adding to the world.
And the YOU of it all is more important than the final WHATEVER. I feel so confident in that statement that I'm going to make it a big old generalization.
Take care of you. You matter. If the you of you is not here, the whatever is not going to happen or to happen as well as it would with you.
I'm not trying to be cryptic here. Let me say more.
A few things you may or may not know about me:
- I've been blogging, designing, networking, project-ing, and shop owning here for almost four years (Hi blogger peeps!) on the side (AKA: side hustle/entrepreneur) which means in real life I create the world of Pars Caeli in the wee small hours of the night, on the weekends, and in the early mornings.
- I have three incredible children (10, 8, and 6), and a husband who refers to me as Beautiful and means it (awesome everywhere but some public settings).
- I have a great full-time job as a graphic designer and social media specialist. (Hi coworkers!)
Like many of you, the mix of those three aspects of my life fills me up creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. And like many of you, the combination of those exhausts me, gives me many a sleepless night, and leaves me more prone to any sickness floating around.
For me, this blog turned business is not a necessity; it doesn't generate sufficient income to do much. It's not a quick fix for my creativity. It's not a portfolio of my talent.
It is a ton of work. Hours and hours and hours. Most of which are likely to have been better spent in REM sleep, exercise, hobbies (what?), and relaxation (and what the what?). There are many days that I am tired. There are many more days that I wonder how I will find time to do the next thing. There are days when I create a great post on parenting, and I'm a horrible mother. There are days that I create nothing, and I have a good read on my kid's lives. And there are those ever-so-rare days when all the planets (even Pluto that isn't really a planet any more) align and the projects are gorgeous, my kids are content and growing, and I'm a successful employee. I might be able to count those on my fingers.
So, why do it, right? Why have the job and the business? Or the kids and the job? Or whatever your list is.... It's not for the steady blood pressure or minimal aggravation. It's likely not for the fame or the fortune or the record books either.
People have asked me why I started a blog, and I find myself answering that question differently now than I did four years ago. I'm not sure if I'm rewriting history or getting to know myself better, but I thought I started to blog to have a space where I could create whatever I wanted, as well as hold myself accountable to do the activities and projects I wanted to do with my kids and my home.
And it has been that - on many occasions.
I also started to blog to be "in the room" with remarkable, capable, talented, and determined creators. I wanted to challenge myself to do more. And I wanted to challenge myself to learn from people outside of my direct circles, but still incredibly like me. For good or bad, I'm the kind of person who observes a crowd of people, notices dynamics, senses personalities, finds charismatic individuals, and says to myself, "I want to be that person's friend." The energizer, the empathizer, the artist, the satirist, the deep intellectual, the misunderstood, the genuine giver. All of these archetypes have fallen into my must-meet-and-befriend circle.
And I am so, so grateful that I now have a whole gang of people that I admire and I love because of this blog, this after-hours jumbo project. We are in the room together, and somehow over these four years, I've done enough and been enough that I finally feel that I have proven to myself that I am their peer.
Which leads me to why I think I really started this blog.
I needed a space to remind me who I am.
I needed a space to remind me who I want to be.
When I think through and peruse the hundreds of posts I've created through the years, each post seems to fall into one of two categories: a diatribe of who I am or a projection (via project) of who I want to be.
I had a local friend tell me that she felt intimidated to read my blog. "How do you do all of those things? And have a job? And have a family? I could never do that." To which I responded something typical of me, "No worries. I don't really do it all that well. And feel welcome not to read the blog. I totally won't be offended." And she said,
"No, no. I keep coming back to it because I need to have something in my life to aspire to."
And I recall looking away (something I rarely do in conversation) because she put into words a feeling that I had not been able to.
I blog because I want something to aspire to. I blog because I want to be the me that I aspire to. And this process and hard work and creativity and networking and curating lead me to that person. Legitimately. I have seen it and I know this to be true.
BUT, let me circle back here - I promise this will make sense...
There are times, perhaps more than I care to acknowledge, that all of the hustle, the emails, the support, and everything else drain me... Maybe they drain you. And let's just call it as it is - it's a LOT. The content creation, the idea editing, the project research, the making, the lighting, the photography and photo editing, the writing and the rewriting, the promoting and repromoting, the reaching out and the responding, the updating and the disclosing.
And the spark of accomplishment can be exciting and sparkly and awesome enough to propel us forward. I am an idea junkie! A great idea can sustain me for days. Keep going, keep going, keep going.
"You've got to keep up, don't slouch on those pins, stay in touch with your audience, when was the last time you posted? Send her an email, rework that content, you should be doing more this..."
And I/we can mistake the spark of accomplishment for good health or wellbeing.
And if the spark even slightly wanes, the truth shows herself.
And she can be angry, dehydrated, hungry, tired, anxious, sad, out of shape, lonely, or the whole mix together.
Because momtrepreneurs and side hustler friends, we can't function on the spark alone. And I feel weird that this is even a thing. But it is for me, and it might be for you. That passion and that desire is oh so sexy and exciting, and we convince ourselves that we can. We can do it all with one more hour, one more post, one more...
I recently talked to someone (entrepreneur) who is uber successful, incredibly gifted, and well on her way to making the profit she deserves for the endless hours she's invested in her business. But she has had such sole focus and drive on her blog/business, that she's forgotten to eat for a day, not left her home for weeks on end, and now finds herself in the hospital for a small health issue that blew up into a larger one because she was so focused on the drive and the business alone.
You matter. If the you of you is not here, the whatever is not going to happen or to happen as well as it would with you. (Fill in your words here.)
We think, I think, we have to push through everything to keep slogging away, perhaps to the detriment of THE REST OF OUR LIVES, entrepreneurs. But we have to have the rest of our lives; we can't forget about the people who love us, the nutrition and the rest that we need, the real life moments we want to experience in real life.
And so I say this from my four years of drive and from the softest spot in my kindred spirit heart:
It's ok to stop.
It's ok to quit.
It's ok to slow down or reduce or shut off.
It's all ok. Whatever that end goal that you're so passionate about is... it is not worth you. Your health, your personality, your smile, your integrity, your zest.
This is a great big world of the internet, and people love the immediate and the now and the whenever-they-want-it, but if you're not there to supply the content, those people can find what they need elsewhere. It doesn't have to be you working tirelessly. It doesn't have to be you sacrificing yourself for the sake of something that might not really be your goal any more.
And I want you to know that your time and your energy is enough. It doesn't have to be what someone else's was/is. It was yours, and it was solid. And if it ends tomorrow, that does not detract from the inherent goodness of what you have done.
But please know, too, I might be sad, and I might miss you. Because the time that you have spent has meant the world to me and so many others. Because I can see the power of what you create far better than you will ever be able to.
But what you have given is so good that it is enough. Right as it is. Right now.
It is more important in the real world for you to take care of you. Don't let small issues become big ones in your relationships and in your health and in your family because you have been so focused on the other things. You give it your all. And you certainly have all the permissions to take weekends off, to be fully present with your kids, to watch TV, to daydream, to walk the mall, to fast from social media, to do whatever it is you need.
You see, the internet will still be here. The people who need to read and to hear and to aspire to these same things will still be here. Likely, I'll still be here - unless, I too find the need to need to break off and to mend. And for that, I'll have to reread this post a dozen times to convince myself that it's ok...
So I first write it to you.
Thank you for all of your creating, your time, your moments that none of us even know that have been sacrificed to move closer to your aspiration. That journey and all of its by products has enriched our lives and the common good.
Take care of you. You matter.