Fighting The Wheel Of Fear

Sometimes I sit at my 9-to-5 and wonder, “is this it?”

Sometimes I sit at my personal desk at home, as I tinker with stationery projects and wonder, “Should I just give up?”

Sometimes I write this blog and think, “does anyone read it?”, or more importantly, “does anyone find it useful?”.

Sometimes I find waking up to go to the 9-to-5 difficult, but then I sometimes find the motivation to run my stationery business difficult, too.

Why am I sharing the above points with you?

Well, because it takes a lot of work to run this small, not-so-much money making business of mine. It leaves me exhausted. As a matter of fact, I feel exhausted as I write this and yet, oddly inspired that I managed to clean my closet out and most of the clutter on my desk over the weekend. I also tackled a few projects that need to go out this week. All good things. All things that remind me that all the questions above do matter, but are not real. What is real is what I decide to do when I’m feeling this way.

Much like my feelings during the NYC Marathon last month, I never gave up and so what matters is whether you think the above and decide to stop and stay comfortable, or whether you feel the feelings, slack off and procrastinate maybe a few days and then get up and make stuff happen. I think every entrepreneur or “I want to own a small business” individual should read and understand that not every day is motivating and exciting. Not every day is perfect. Not every day is happy.

For those of you readers who have been reading since the beginning, you know that I’ve suffered the waves of unhappy/happy. Now, don’t take that for anything serious. I think I’m still wading through the various levels of grief, but I’ve also had to deal with the unhappiness of what I do in my day-to-day. And I think that’s the ticket to understanding the rough patches of having your own business.

In my mind, when I’m no longer restricted to my 9-to-5, I will have more time and be happier and freer. I have no doubt that these will be true. None at all. But I will be hungrier. Unless something miraculously changes I could be a starving artist not sure where my next dollar will come from. I’m not being an exaggerator here at all. And yet in all of this I know that I’ll be okay. I know that this risk will be worth it. That I will be a better, stronger person for having taken the risk and followed my passion/dream. And yet, there is that fear.

Here is where the juicy bits of Sara’s business comes in- see, I have no real security blanket. Yes, I’m working on saving and not spending and ridding myself of the lifestyle that I have created for myself, but there is still room for a flat-down-face-first-fall. The girl who hates ice/roller skating for fear of falling on her derriere has quite a lot in store for her.

And yet, I see myself doing amazing things and learning a ton and having a center of paper making and crafts when I’m older. Yes, I see that. I also see myself slower and happier and more full of life. And yet, the fear creeps in and says, “but what if you don’t have sales?”, “what if you can’t pay for this or that?”, “what about your adopted child in Ecuador? You know once you quit your job you can’t afford to donate to him anymore.”, “What about your bills?”, “What about when you don’t feel like cutting and gluing and meeting with a client?”, “What if you get sick, or can’t use your hands anymore?”.

You can see where I’m going with this…and yet, I see so much more than the what ifs and the may happens. It is what I remind myself every time I have a lull and can’t glue another envelope before bed. It is what I see when I decide to go to bed at 7:30pm instead of working on a design project. Again, this comes with the territory. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have to sacrifice so much to have this company, but I will, soon. Now, for that matter.

As I plan my exit strategy and realize all that has to happen in order for it to take place, I realize that I won’t have the six-month savings. I also won’t have insurance, or all of my debt paid off. I will have enough to get my butt to Asia, to live an extremely meager existence for six-to-12 months and then come home and figure the rest of it out. At 32-years-old, I will be living with my mom for a brief period of time, I’m sure.

In all of that, I realized that I’m okay when I think of the big picture and stop focusing on the small details. But it is often during those times when I allow my lack of motivation to seep in. And I blame it on my situation- my lack of money, my vast dislike for my 9-to-5. Then I blame that for making me feel tired and not wanting to do anything more than sleep at night. It is times like this when those questions above really seep in and really make me feel bad. But then something happens- my head screams, “NO! That is not the way you are going out, Sara Stroman! THIS will happen and you will be better for it.”

What I realized leading into my birthday and with the help of Hank, the hawk (who reappeared the night of Sunday, December 4th and stayed perched again on my air conditioner until around 6:55am Monday morning), is that I need to shake off the fear, get into action and make things happen. The tired and unmotivated Sara that has shown herself quite a bit this year has also done a lot and tackled huge feats that showed herself (in more than one way) that she is quite capable of doing what she says she will, when she says she will.

And so I decided that I needed to start moving out of my comfort zone. I need to deconstruct what I’ve constructed. I needs to get used to eating food she doesn’t like or may be old and bad (like her lunch today-yuck!) and start making choices that matter. Choices that matter for my future. Every action I make has to matter because it’s a means to my survival.

The first way to do that was to revisit the hair cut of my youth; the hair cut that made me cry, and feel sad and ugly as a 13-year-old girl in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. See, at the age of 13, I cut my then curly and frizzy hair short, extremely short to what I can only describe it as the soccer mom hair cut popular in the 90s by moms who drove mini vans in the Mid-west. We, both my mom and I, had no idea how to tame my suddenly curly mop and so the short cut was bad. I was also chubby and it just was not flattering and I swore never to cut my hair that short again.

Well, I’m here to tell you that on Friday, December 2nd, the day after I turned 31, I went to the hair dresser and asked her to cut my hair short. She did. I love it. It’s quite flattering. With every piece she cut, I shrieked out of shock and fear that I was revisiting a past I had no real desire to recall, but it was for naught. My hair is lovely. It feels healthy and happy and every time I touch it, I am reminded that I need to get my butt in action and motivated.

Which is why this Saturday after sleeping later than normal and then waking up and eating breakfast, I tackled my closet. With the weather in NYC flipping and flopping between warm and cold, I’ve had no desire to even touch the closet, but I decided it was finally time.

During the process, I started to throw things away. Things that I hadn’t worn in a year, I put in a pile for Good Will; items well worn and no longer needed, I put in the textiles recycling bag. Summer items were packed away and winter things came out. While I still need to go through the process again, “chucking” items never felt better. It really felt like the blood that was coursing through me the day I first noticed Hank the Hawk was back as I started to get rid of the things I no longer need or want.

And so this is the cycle where I find myself. A cycle where I’m making every decision count and am holding myself completely accountable for how and why I divvy up my time the way I do. It seems exhaustive, almost as much as feeling unmotivated, but it is part of running a truly sustainable and powerful business. It is also part of having a sustainable life.

Right now, I am cutting down my fear into small parts. I am taking those questions I mentioned at the very beginning and I am breaking them down. It is scary, but I’m trying to understand why I feels that way and how to fix my thoughts and feelings when they do strike.

Fear can be trapping in that way. It doesn’t help when you overwhelm yourself either, but the first step in stopping the wheel of fear is to face is head on. Which is why I’m aiming to do the best I can with this new outlook and get ready for when I do jump off the cliff. I hope you’re ready to start reading about me and my business getting ready to step off the cliff…it’s action time!


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S2 Stationery & Design

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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