I perked up at the comment from the director of our production house as we chatted about Mixed over coffee. His tone, so sincere and convincing, gave me the confidence and energy I needed to get back to work.
But just as quickly as the momentum came, it faded away.
Like the proverbial rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, I’m constantly tumbling between highs and lows. The pattern looks something like this: I’ll get energy from the reassuring words of a friend, lose it, then wait for reassurance to hit again in order to muster up the energy to get back to work.
It’s a glaringly untenable way to function.
But reassurance is comforting. It tells you that everything’s going to turn out fine. It’s your friends telling you that all your dreams will be realized; it’s that quote on IG that tells you you’re going to win.
But the truth is—everything might not be ok.
If you’re taking a risk—creatively, professionally, or personally—you’re going to rub up against a lot of fear and uncertainty. The road ahead is dim and you can’t know where exactly it’s going to take you. That’s what makes reassurance feel so good—it helps you manage the fear of uncertainty by telling you that everything will be okay.
But when we rely too heavily on reassurance, a few things happen:
First, our source of motivation becomes external, and thus, out of our control. Instead of sourcing our own motivation and practice, we’re left to chance, hoping that reassurance or inspiration will hit right when we need it. It’s lazy and unreliable.
Second, we become more focused on the outcome of our work rather than the process it takes to realize the final product.
And third, like addicts, we search for more reassurance, but will never feel satisfied. We spend more time trying to make ourselves feel good rather than doing the work at hand.
I think of Mixed as a community of people connected by non traditional paths (and a love for print + color!)—we’re creators, entrepreneurs, risk takers. And for the lives we’ve chosen, one thing is clear: there’s no way around uncertainty. But we can learn to tolerate it, to get more comfortable wading through murky waters and in doing so, find a way to believe in ourselves.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to source that audacious self-belief. But I can tell you it doesn’t come from anyone else. No matter how well the business is doing or how many compliments I get from strangers on the street, no amount of reassurance has been enough to convince me that I can do this.
So now I’m weaning myself off of reassurance. I’m setting up a practice, showing up to do work every day whether I feel like it or not.
And maybe most importantly, I’m accepting that everything might not be ok. And pushing forward nonetheless.