About 2 1/2 years ago, I took a big risk and leap of faith and started Tandem Learning. And I have to admit, it was exhilarating. Starting a company? Building something new? Risking everything in order to achieve something you didn't know was even possible? Suddenly, I felt brave and powerful and capable in a way I never had.
That feeling doesn't last forever. I made mistakes, faced challenges, had to make big decisions. I didn't always know what I was doing or what to do next.
Two things are true. I've always followed my heart and I never gave up. But yes...I've made mistakes.
On February 18th...on the actual 2 year anniversary of my first day as Tandem Learning...Amanda Palmer wrote a blog post, a portion of which I'm going to quote here now, in response to her releasing the "back story" of Evelyn Evelyn, her current project and tour. You can read her entire post here, but this is the part, this is the section, that inspires me and reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing...that reminds me how to stay brave:
the bigger picture.My life, my success (or not), my decisions...I've committed myself to not let fear control me. I see others who give in to their fear all of the time. Make excuses. Back away from scary decisions. Stay complacent and safe.
yesterday i found myself chewing all of this upsetness like a bone in my mind.
i’m also PMSing, and that made things even lovelier.
in my life and in my work, i’ve made a lot of people angry.
people love to judge.
too feminist. not feminist enough. too outspoken. not outspoken enough. too intellectual.
too dumb. too glam. too underdressed. too funny. not funny enough. too inappropriate. too safe.
wrong kind of funny. marrying my favorite author and now i fucking hate her. fat. irritating. loud.
blah blah blah blah, etc, ad infinitum.
this is something i’ve had to learn to live with.
to get clear, i always have to stop, dig deep within myself and ask:
were my intentions good? could i really stand behind them? was anybody really harmed?
if i’ve actually harmed someone (and the harm isn’t just a drama in their heads), have i owned my responsibility?
when i quiet myself down and find the answer within myself, that’s the most important one.
it speaks louder than the voices outside my head and the anonymous voices on the internet.
it is to this voice you must listen, or you’re FUCKED.
i know a lot of younger people read this blog and i have constant contact with teenagers who are always asking me:
“how do i get brave?”
a lot of that answer lies in situations like these.
when you are forced to sit down, reckon with a situation, listen to people screaming that they hate you, take stock of what you’ve done, look everyone in the eye, tell them what your intentions are, and know that they will either hear and understand you or they will walk away.
and then your job is to not run after them.
your job is to stay calm. your job is continue on with your work.
and the hardest thing, sometimes, is to continue on with your work in a spirit of love, without letting other people’s hate and anger getting the best of you, and turning you into bitter, angry and jaded fuck.
it’s so easy to be afraid. to do nothing. to not make your art, to not follow your calling, your passion, your impulses, to not take any risks for fear of people cutting you down and misunderstanding you.
most people are CONTROLLED by fear, because they’re convinced they’ll do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, write the wrong thing, sing the wrong thing.
those fears are founded. you can see that, here, now.
shit happens, you can upset people.
and you need to do your work anyway, because the world needs you to.
that, i think, is how you get brave.
Those are not the people who do great things. Those are not the people who change the world. Those are not the people who I look up to.
If you want to see some of the people I look up to, you'll find them at Tandem Learning. (A belated anniversary to you, my friends. Thanks for trusting and forgiving and being brave with me.)
Or join me next Friday, when I'm going to see Evelyn Evelyn.