My Dear Friend,
When you read this letter, I will be in a different place. I’m not sure what it will look like and how I get there. You might be frustrated that I left you all by yourself when you’re stuck and overwhelmed, but I had no choice. I felt like both you and I have exhausted our knowledge bank, so I’m off to look for more support.
Remember that time when I decided to opt out of my *real,* blood-sucking job and thought we’d teach online? The thrill of unlimited possibility, a life without hurry, stress and overwhelm, a new project that we were so certain about?
Remember you told me to give it a try even though it seemed too new, too unreal, too scary? You were there when I took my first steps, cheering me on, being helpful and hopeful.
You joined me later, and the rollercoaster hasn’t stopped since. We worked together, celebrated our first wins and our (many) fails and snags along the way. A year into it I felt like quitting, and you were the one to pull me up from my swamp. Thank you for that, I wouldn’t have made it without you.
And then you fell really hard, remember? You felt stuck and unsure if this is your thing anymore. You started comparing your work with random strangers.
You discovered that your successes paled in comparison with this big blogger or that YouTube star. You wondered if anyone would ever hear what you had to say, if anyone would care enough to buy from you, if anyone would pay attention.
Above all you began doubting if the journey had been worth it. Your resolve and cheer that inspired me in the beginning gave way to stress and anxiety. Your creative spirit crushed under the weight of the trying, writing, reaching out, being rejected and misunderstood.
And so you gave up, and I feel guilty. All the things you’ve done for me, how much you encouraged me to go forward, and I could no longer reach out to you. I felt like I was under water, trying to yell to you to move on, swim, take action, but you fell slowly and dangerously to the ocean floor and I felt useless.
That ocean of despair — how I wish I could pull you out from it! But I knew that if I kept pushing you up, we’d both soon lose our strength, seeing the fading light far away on the water surface but not feeling our limbs.
So now I decided it’s time to go and find help for you, for me, for those like us. Those who are weighed down by the magnitude of their dreams, ideas and failures. Those who don’t realize how being alone destroys the passion that lifts them out to the surface and wills their bodies to keep going despite the fear and doubt.
When you're ready to quit you don't need more 'hacks.' You need some boost and inspiration from your community.Click To Tweet
We have helped each other at the very beginning and it helped us get started. Now as we’ve moved beyond what we thought was possible and saw a few higher mountains to climb, the two of us can’t handle it anymore.
We need more gear, more people and more strength. Because the higher the mountain, the easier it is to slip and fall and the more we need a group of people to keep climbing until we reach that peak, until we find ourselves in the new place.
I know this might sound “too good to be true.” We both were there at some point. Working for a school that barely noticed us, being paid enough not to die, losing our passion and desire for the thing that kept us alive.
Think of all the courage that it took to say, “no more.” The step that we now take for granted; remember how long it took to make that first shaky step?
Well, we need courage now, even more than we had. And we need multiplied courage.
So I will be back. Back with more people like us. Those who were crazy enough to take that first step, imagine their lives could be different — that they could take a vacation, have fewer clients, make more than a bare minimum, create, write, play!
I want to bring those people to you because I believe that what we once had wasn’t some surreal dream. It was a life that we both deserve. The life that will give us freedom and space to grow, create art and do the work that matters.
Until then, keep the faith. Look up. Remember that none of it, however hard and overwhelming, has been in vain. We were born for this, and no matter how long it’ll take, we’ll get there.
“Always look back and think of how far you’ve come. It may seem insignificant because we often experience the tension between where we are and where we want to be, but take a moment to look back at your journey and help someone along the way. Generosity is the greatest remedy against a funk because it helps you shift your focus from “how hard it is for me” to “how much I can do for others.” ~ Flowers in the Frost: The Untold Stories of Online Teaching.
This post was inspired by Veronika Palovska’s Open Letter from Your Dream Client. Veronika has helped me stick with my vision when I felt like I was going nowhere. Together we’ve built a community to make the going easier for all of us.
If you feel like you need a community to keep pushing through, I invite you to join our Smart Teacher’s Library to do the work and support each other through the hardest climb. Remember, your pain is not just your own.
Together we can overcome the many challenges of starting and growing a business, and together we can make the change we want to see in the world.
The post was updated in April, 2021.