Last Friday, I went to the Socialpreneur Chat at Innovation Works after a long time. Socialpreneur Chat is a weekly casual conversation among local Social Entrepreneurs in London Ontario through which we discuss our challenges and help each other out. I love coming to this chat but this time I experienced an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
I started working on my business idea in August 2017 and I was working very hard and making a lot of progress. My husband and I went away for two weeks to India to have our wedding ceremony in February. As transformational as this experience was, it was equally disruptive. I was really slow at picking up the pace and making progress on my venture after the trip.
For almost three weeks since we came back, I was just not able to concentrate, for a rather interesting reason though. On the one hand, my mind was stimulated at a whole new level by my experience during the trip (I assume that’s how Eddie Morra felt after taking NZT in the movie Limitless?). I’ve never felt this way before. It is like some wizard cast a spell on me that changed my brain and started an exploration of brand-new dimensions and sensations with an ever-accelerating speed. I finally understood what so many writers who traveled to India and had a life-changing trip were talking about. On the other hand, however, I was really just left by myself to embrace the powerful impact while trying to figure out how to break the spell so I can come back to reality! My mind was just all over the place, being anywhere but here with me to help me do what I was supposed to do, which in this case is to get back on track and push my project forward. I still do not believe that I have fully woken up from this mesmerizing and intoxicating “hangover”.
That was why I forced myself to go for the Socialpreneur Chat last Friday to feel connected to the social enterprise community once again. That was also when it suddenly hit me that I missed so much and that, compared with some people who started at around the same time with me, I am already behind.
The truth is, once you decide to jump into an exciting new venture with both feet, a lot can happen within a month, a week, and even just one day, especially when you are starting from ground-up. The interesting part is that you oftentimes do not realize how much progress you’ve made until you look at it from a distance in time. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, too. You oftentimes do not realize how little progress you’ve made until you look at it from a distance in time…
I understand that the constant switching between the being-in-control-mode and the losing-control-mode can be a big part of being an entrepreneur. Still, I was stressed over the amount of time that could have been utilized on my project but was instead spent on taking care of my personal life. Don’t get me wrong. The experience I had in India was worth more than anything. It created such great memories that I will cherish for a lifetime and I won’t trade it for absolutely anything. What I am saying is that, when I met again with people whose progress I used to follow closely, I realized that I have been stagnated for a while and it scared me.
I was really happy for those who made tremendous progress, but at the same time, I just couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling of frustration and the disappointment of myself for not being nearly as productive and effective. I was feeling low after the Chat and was struggling to bounce back for the rest of the day.
It was not like I had a failure or anything and I knew I was not supposed to make a big deal out of it. After all, there could be thousands of much worse scenarios. But I was caught up in the moment and not able to evaluate it properly. I told Anmol about it and he was very sweet like he always is, trying to help me see the bright side. He pointed out that other people’s progress proved to me what is possible, which is very true, and that it is not necessarily a bad thing that I am mad at myself because I can use that energy to turn the pressure into motivation.
I am proud to say that I am now all sober and fired up again to work harder and smarter. I really started to see this incident as an opportunity to train myself to adjust my emotions. Once I get over the heat of the moment, I was quickly analyzing my situation, figuring out what has been working for my business and what has not. I then made changes to my current strategies and worked out concrete action plans based on the best of what I know how.
Yes, it did take me a weekend, which to some people might just be an accomplishment over a few hours. To me, however, it is a remarkable triumph. I always know that to be successful I will have to endure a lot of pressure and overcome a lot of difficulties, most of which is just a battle against myself to break through my own boundaries and limitations. Emotional stability has always been one of my biggest challenges. It doesn’t have to be when I encounter ups and downs in life. I can just get too excited about certain things and equally sad over other things. The switch of my emotional state can happen very fast and the effect can stay for very long.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. A lot of people live their life without knowing or admitting their weaknesses and that’s why they are stuck in life and never take the next step to change their situations. I am happy that I know mine because I believe the awareness is the first step towards intentionally trying to work on improving myself. It is not a shame, by the way, to have any weakness. Everybody does. No one is perfect. It is a shame, however, to hide it or ignore it. It has no benefit for others or for yourself. It only prevents you from getting better at something that you are not yet good at.
I learned all this the hard way. I was once a very insecure person who was so afraid of being recognized as a “fraud” that I tried hard to disguise my flaws and to defend myself whenever I felt “under attack”. If only I could instead take advantage of and be grateful for all the chances I missed to be vulnerable, to accept who I really am, and to do something to change for the better, I would have been a much more “advanced” version of myself by now.
At the same time, I think it is equally important not to ponder over the “if only”. First of all, it is never too late. Plus, the purpose of self-reflection should not be to beat myself up but to celebrate my big and small wins every step of the way with compassion and love for myself. This time, I chose to face my flaw and to be the commander of my emotions. I take writing as one way to honor my courage and determination because I know how easily it could have gone the other way – indulging myself in the downward spiral of self-blame.
I believe it is the same for us all. The more we understand how hard it is to shift our mindset and make the right choice for ourselves, the more proud we should be for every victory that we acquire in the journey of self-improvement.