Pulling back the curtain

Go, even though there’s nowhere to go.

That’s a line from Cheryl Strayed’s The Truth that Lives There. It gutted me. Her words cut through to the deepest part of me that believes that walking into the darkness—without reassurance, without a clear path—brings about the most vital transformations. 

As I mentioned before, the path ahead for Mixed is unclear (made even murkier by leaving a longterm relationship that offered lots of security.) I imagine that most would advise me against sharing this with you all, but I firmly believe in pulling back the curtain of the creative and entrepreneurial journeys. Mixed is on shaky ground, and yet, there is so much life here, so much support, so much community and so much more to explore. These two things can live at once.

The main obstacle is money. Surprise, surprise. Businesses take a few years to become profitable so I have to ensure I have enough runway to continue operating Mixed (and paying my personal expenses!) That means either getting investment or getting a job. I’ve been working on a pitch deck to present to investors—or rather, I’ve been staring at blank slides, pulling my hair out trying to put our brand story into words. I dug up my resume too. I hadn’t touched it in years. When I opened up the document, I was reminded of old projects, woven between stints of employment, that I’d all but forgotten—education conferences, literary programs, books etc. Despite the wide variety of projects, they all pointed to one resounding truth: I have an itch to create and it’s not going away.

So, I decided to give the job search a break and focus solely on creating runway for Mixed—the scarier, darker path. 

But something happens when you take steps in the dark. Your eyes learn to adjust in that pitch blackness, picking up on the slightest bits of guiding light. Your hands and feet learn how to grope your surroundings as you take each step forward. 

I recently had a quick chat with someone who just moved to the city. She told me how expensive it is to live in NY and how she’s working hard to save money. And that reminded me of when I first moved to the city at 18; when I left my college dorm to live in an apartment my sophomore year. I had just paid the security deposit and first month’s rent when my banking app sent me a notification: You have $0.28 in your bank account. 

I had almost entirely forgotten about that era of my life—when I had to seriously debate if I could afford a cup of coffee. And it made me smile. It reminded me that I figured it out then and I could figure it out now. That I could find the humility to live meagerly as I grind to bring my dreams to life. Of course I’d rather not do that. I’d much rather be like the rest of my 20-something friends, living comfortably in the city and knowing when their next check arrives, but I understand that the entrepreneurial path I’ve chosen comes with necessary compromises. Which brings me to this excerpt from a blog I wrote in October: 

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.

Then, the next sentence read, “I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to source that audacious self-belief.” 

I take that back. Because here’s what I’m realizing now: if you’re someone who decides to “go even though there’s nowhere to go” you must already have a kernel, a seed, a SOMETHING, of self belief. It might be teeny tiny, but it’s there. And the way you nurture it is by walking the dark path, wading through murky waters, betting on yourself and emerging—dirtier but fiercely self-assured. In that journey is where we source that audacious self-belief.

And so, I’m taking my own advice. I'm walking the dark path. I’m betting on myself. And at some point, I'll emerge.

The creative journey entails a lifelong relationship with risk and uncertainty. 

And for me, it’s certainly worth the price. 

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