It’s less than two weeks before a major project deadline. This is exciting and scary as shit. I am experiencing a split personality type phenomenon. One part of me is cool and confident. Assured that no matter the upcoming events, the whole project will be handled professionally and even playfully. That nobody will take it too seriously and we’ll all make fun of each other along the way. The second part of me feels constantly like I need to poo. Obsessed with everything that can and will go wrong. Trying to make plans and control every single element of this project while guided by the forces of spite and dread.
A primary goal of attempting a start-up venture was to enjoy it. Not in an anecdotal sense. Not so I can condescendingly pat my co-worker on the back after our first big event and say “at least we had fun”. No. Not that. I mean the hard kind of enjoyment. The type which requires commitment. The type of enjoyment which vanishes during complacency. The type which I owe to those remarkable friends and family who’ve been so supportive. When I reached out to several individuals who were so generous with their time and attention, they all demanded “just make sure you enjoy it”. And I can tell you in all honesty, this is proving more a challenge than strategy, profit forecasting, recruiting or networking.
I recently took five nights away from start-up duties. To avoid all screens and just chill the fuck out. Before I even had a chance to soak in the novelty of relaxation, I was dictated by my body to just stay put. Thirteen hours of sleep per day during the first chapter of this break. Oh boy did I need that. Next up came the very daunting reality that so much of the stress and agitation I had experienced in the first two months of this looming project was created out of thin air. A reaction to my environment and the turbulent, disjointed workings of the mind. “Did you remember that thing you were supposed to do… are you looking forward to failing… did you get that meat out of the freezer… you’re too fat, people are beginning to talk… why do people still believe in god… why don’t you just give up and go join the circus… you should probably just get some cheeseburgers… fatty.
This moment of revelation happened while I was making my first holiday sandwich. A straight forward procedure. Ham, cheese and lettuce. But no more than two minutes into the process, just as I reached for the lettuce, I felt this explosive frustration. I was certain that if I didn’t make these fucking sandwiches asap, eat and get back to work then the whole universe would collapse in on itself and I would have to live out my life at an asylum with other people who fail too hard to be allowed to mingle among the rest of the community. WTF! How long had I been living my life like this? Was it a new phenomenon? Did it manifest since taking on the risk to create a business venture? Was I born this way, or did I learn to be stressed?
The next 48hrs I revelled in the fact that I could take as much time to do as many tasks as I wanted. No deadline. Shower, eat, do my shoe laces, walk to get a coffee or a sneaky nine holes of golf. It was amazing! I sensed, and even welcomed the challenge of returning to my standard routine at home. Determined to apply this new found luxury to as many daily tasks as possible. Even shitty shit, like doing the god dam dishes. Why rush it? I’m only going to get frustrated and storm out the door as if my silly little life is of such importance that unless I do it like a competition, everything which brings joy will for some reason vanish.
Since attempting a solo business venture, I have interacted with many like-minded others. All pursuing the goal of being their own boss and creating what they love. A frequent concern has been that some such characters have stumbled off course and become the bosses they wanted to avoid. Harassing themselves to perform and survive at any cost. Start selling shit they don’t care about or offering services which are a ghostly mirage of their original value. It scares the shit out of me because I’ve felt the temptation to bend. To whale on myself until a task is complete. And rather than congratulate and offer a reward to myself for a job well done, to go to bed miserable and dreading the next deadline.
I’ve no sweet tone planned on which to end this article. No happily ever after clause. Just a pride for getting honest about where and how hurdles hide in the start-up game. I shall continue into this day, one half contented and the other constipated. And that is great for now. I’m not a mean boss. I’m not a miserable employee. I am happily neutral. I am judging myself for the quality of content in this article whilst feeling pleased that I have actually completed a task. I have scheduled in a game of golf, a massage and a poker night in the coming week to help balance the twelve and fourteen hour days that need to be met by deadline. It’s still just a job, but its mine and I’m doing it pretty well.