You attend a family gathering.
You’re sitting around a table, enjoying a home cooked meal.
Then, inevitably, someone asks, “how’s that business thing going?”
Suddenly, everything you’ve achieved to that point vanishes. Your self-confidence and sense of accomplishment disappears. You look around, and all you see are judging eyes staring back at you.
You could be making a six-figure income for all they know.
But in that moment, as the question pierces through your sense of worth, you feel as small as the day you dared to dip your toe in the waters of business.
Whether you’re a freelancer, remote worker, creative or entrepreneur, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ve been working entirely from home for two years. And, people still ask me how it’s going and whether I’m making any money. Let me offer a clue — do you honestly think I would be at it for two years if I wasn’t earning a decent living for myself?
They don’t understand what I do — and I don’t try to explain. Here in the information age, the rules of engagement have changed, and it’s easier than ever to pursue a path of self-employment, make good money, and be involved in many creative and entrepreneurial pursuits simultaneously. But to be fair, a lot of people don’t know that.
At this point, for me, it’s not a matter of whether what I do makes money. It’s only a matter of how much.
But even if you don’t offer an explanation for the people around you, you must offer a response, so you say something general like, “it’s going great”.
“Good for you”, they say, as if they were patting a three-year-old on the head for sharing a can of soda with her brother.
Now, it’s easy to attach a lot of meaning to an event like that.
You could write it all off as a personal interpretation of events. And, you probably wouldn’t be wrong. It was you who felt attacked, and whether anyone around you had any intention of offending you is up for grabs.
It might seem as though your feelings make it real, but feelings have nothing to do with the event itself. So, when you separate the emotion from the event, you begin to see that no one was judging or looking down on you. The only thing that actually happened was they engaged you in conversation and asked a few questions.
Don’t get me wrong — it would be fun to throw it back in their face. Maybe one day you’ll have the entire family out to dinner at an expensive restaurant and pay for the whole thing, just to show them who’s boss.
But in some ways, no matter how much you grow and achieve, it will never change their perception of you. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you get. To them, you’re still their brother, sister, child, nephew, niece, grandson, granddaughter, or otherwise.
The reason you’re involved in some creative pursuit is because you’ve awakened to the possibilities. But the people around you probably haven’t. And, it is my humble opinion that many never will.
“Life is great,” they say. Meanwhile, they’re up to their ears in debt and every other aspect of their life is being suffocated by the instability they’re experiencing in their financial life.
No, this isn’t the case for everyone, and it certainly isn’t to say that the entrepreneurial life is superior. Far from it.
But it is true that many people are doing work they don’t enjoy doing because it’s familiar and comfortable — not because they love it, or because it fulfills them. They go along to get along, so if anybody voices a unique thought, it gets quashed. That’s the power of association.
There isn’t much you can do to convince others. That’s why I find it best to keep quiet, though inevitably some of my thoughts come to the surface in the flow of conversation.
Look. Both you and I know that the entrepreneurial life isn’t verifiably better. It’s just better for us. There is a good fit for everybody, regardless of whether it means living an unconventional life.
Some people are happily employed, working for a company they love and making a good living. They find joy in the small things and create a satisfying life for themselves. I have a lot of respect for those people, because I know I couldn’t do it.
Conversely, there are entrepreneurs who are constantly stressed, losing money, and hating what they do. They can’t find joy in anything because they’re running around like a headless chicken.
But whatever path you’re on, if it’s the right one for you, take pride in it. Don’t let others put you down or threaten the unique way in which you approach life. They may not know what you’re up to or what you’ve accomplished, but you do.
It’s not about what happens to you. It’s about how you respond to what happens that matters most.
So, don’t respond in anger or frustration. Remember that you are awakened, and they may not be. You see possibilities they can’t see for themselves. You’re in a unique and privileged position to help and inspire others — even those who don’t fully support or understand you.
It doesn’t matter what other people think. What matters is you’re on a path that suits you.