I was lying awake last night and kept thinking about this paragraph I wrote yesterday.
The second reason is that I think I had become too dependent (financially). Being so extremely invested in one thing made it hard for me to separate what I wanted to do from what I thought my audience wanted me to do
I was talking about so much more than what these three sentences can capture. I knew I had to write more about this. I felt the need to dig through the emotions and thoughts that made me write the above. (Welcome to my open therapy session!)
I think there are several things that made me say, in the end, I had become too dependent, or too invested.
- I always instinctively felt that I didn’t want to put my content behind a paywall. I knew it didn’t make sense business-wise, but I also felt an urge do things differently. I instinctively wanted my work to be about more than a transaction between a seller and a buyer. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that until recently, though. I just *did* it that way and then struggled to explain why.
- When listeners started telling me they wanted to support me, I discovered that it was hard for me to accept their gifts. I was a horrible gift receiver, really. I always came up with new reasons why people shouldn’t have given me their money. I lead a comfortable life. I have had a lot of privilege in my life. I had not really done that much to deserve people’s support yet.
- No matter how many people supported me, I never quite allowed myself to feel like I was achieving something. Not fully. There was always a part of me that felt like I didn’t deserve it. Another part of me spoke from a sense of scarcity, though. I was convinced that I wasn’t successful as long as I couldn’t pay all my bills. I know, talk about a fucked up mix of contradictory feelings.
- This ties in with what our society often tells creators. To “get a real job.” It took me ages to see the podcast as my real job, although I prefer to call it my work. When I struggled to keep going financially and asked the community for advice, one member said, “Get a 2nd job.” It propelled me back to the starting point. Indeed, “Who was I to think I could ask people for money?” I thought.
- This contant struggle of learning how to ask for help, learning how to accept help and learning how to truly value my own work… was hard. What made it much harder was the fact that I suddenly *needed* help. I had run out of spare energy and spare time. I was trying to keep going on listener-support only and it wasn’t working. I had given up my ‘real’ job too early.
- Which brings me to the hardest part to share. I let resentment get to me. I got frustrated. I got disappointed. Dozens of people supported me every month. They cherished my work. They encouraged me to keep going. But I somehow started to focus on the thousands of listeners who didn’t support me. And it was easy to get to that point. Very easy indeed.
- You see, when you decide you want to give away your work, people tell you you’re crazy. They tell you that people are greedy and will never give back. I told them I trusted it to work out in the end. That there are always people who would give back. Despite my struggle to accept gifts, I still instinctively felt that this is how I wanted things to be. A circle of giving and giving back and giving. I wasn’t very convincing about it, I’ll admit. I let people get away with calling me naive. And after struggling for a while, I started to believe the nay-sayers.
- Now, I’m very ashamed to admit this. I’m not even sure why I am doing this. As I write this, I question my intentions. Am I oversharing? Am I abusing you as a listener? Will you judge me for it? And I’m afraid. It’s funny: my fear might be the reason why I keep writing anyway. I have learned to see fear as a sign of progress. It’s like a road sign that says ‘Go there.’ I’m going there.
- Apart from needing the extra money, going back into consultancy and publishing bi-weekly episodes is a way to let go of the resentment. It’s a way to step back from the ‘needing.’ Not because I no longer want to engage in this wonderful circle of giving, but because I want to make room for it all to unfold again. I need to find my trusting, giving self again. I believe I’m already making great progress.
- You see, the good thing about letting myself being dragged down into the darkness of the nay-sayer world, is that I discovered I really don’t belong there. This negativity might have managed to make its way into my head for a while, but the trusting core of my heart patiently waited to make its big come-back as soon as possible. I always knew I wouldn’t stay in the darkness. I would find my way back somehow.
It took me a few years, and 10 paragraphs to summarize it here, but I believe I am finally coming at all of this from the right place. I see that I am not truly giving until I can accepts gifts myself gracefully. I see that I have to ask for help and accept ‘no’, or silence, as an answer most of the time. I see that I have to keep trusting that it will all work out someway, somehow. I see that I have to focus on real value: the connection I built with so many of you.
It’s a weird way to live within our money and success driven society, to be honest. It will be a challenge and a journey in itself to trust people so openly. Some people will hate me for it. Some people will keep telling me I’m a fool. Actually, I myself have often asked Muriel, “Do you think people will call me the good kind of crazy or the crazy kind of crazy in the end?”
I’m going to answer my own question from now on. It’s the good kind of crazy. It’s the loving kind of crazy. I think I’m finally ready to own that kind of crazy. I’m ready to bust open the doors of my heart and let everyone in. In short, I finally fully and consciously understand what my instinct was telling me me all along.
This counts as another step in my journey, right? I’m shaking as I type these final words so it must be.
Several of you have been here for me from the start. Whenever I doubted myself, you didn’t. When I sucked at accepting your generous gifts, you forgave me and kept giving. You listened to me and you kept pushing me to this place, gently. Thank you.