When you start your own business, we like to say that now you work for yourself- but that’s not entirely true.
Really the person you work for now is your future self. The work that you do - putting in all the hours to get the business up and running - is so that your future self can profit from it.
Today I turned 28. Birthdays for me are a time to reflect on what “Past Me” has been working on, how “Current Me” can improve on it, and what I want life for “Future Me” to look like.
I used to spend a lot of time looking back at myself in my early-twenties, feeling frustrated. I would count how many mistakes I’d made and list all the things I’d gotten wrong. “The person that I was at 19, 22 or 25 was an IDIOT!!!” I would think to myself. “What did she think she was playing at? Why didn’t she do X or Y- or why DID she do X or Y? Why did she create so many messes for me to clean up?”
But as time has gone by, it’s become easier to forgive my younger self. Sometimes your mistakes are the thing that’s most obvious to you straight away, but your successes are slower to show up. Now I look back at the messes I made, and I can see everything that I learnt from them. I can also see the choices I made that were actually pretty smart, the work I produced that was really beautiful, and most of all how I just kept trying.
24-year-old me faced a very different set of challenges to 27-year-old me. 24-year-old me had NO IDEA how to run a business, and no clue if what I was trying to build would even work out. All my hard work felt like a complete shot in the dark. I just didn’t know if it would turn out ok- but it has.
At 27, after 3 years of hard slog, my business finally started to actually make money. I was able to afford a studio space in East London, pay for an assistant, and move out of my parents house. It is so much easier to work hard now, because I can see the results in front of me. And now, at 28, I’m building on the foundations I laid over the last 4 years. I’m grateful.
At 27, I made a lot of mistakes, and I definitely took on more than I could handle. I’m grateful that I was able to push through it, and grateful for what I learnt about the limits of my capacity and the power of saying no.
At 27, I realised that no matter what you’re doing, people will always find a way to tell you how you’re doing it wrong! You have to learn to turn the volume way, way down on the voices that don’t matter, and tune into the precious few ones that do. I’m grateful to have voices in my life that are so worth listening to.
At 27, I learnt that I could trust myself. I know enough to make good decisions for myself and for my business, and even when I do get it wrong, I can figure out how to grow. I learnt that I’m resilient, and good at bouncing back. I’ve learnt how to fail better.
At 27, I got a cochlear implant and I called my mum on the phone for the first time in twenty years. I heard guitar playing next door, my bedsheets rustling, the soft whisper of the shuttle shooting through the warp on my loom. I heard the birds sing.
At 27, I reconnected with the vision I had for my work, the vision that disappeared somewhere in the last few years, replaced by the vision of “making enough money to move out and prove to everyone I’m not nuts to be a tapestry weaver!!!” I started making plans for the future that weren’t based on what I could sell, but based on what I truly wanted to make. I started dreaming again, started getting excited again about things that weren’t connected to the numbers in my bank account or my followers on social media.
I’m so excited for 28. At 27 I moved fast, but in a lot of different directions all at once. I tried a lot of different things and I learnt about what worked, and about what really didn’t. I’m heading into 28 knowing exactly what I need to focus on, and how to make it grow.
One of the things I’ll be focusing on is this blog right here. I want to talk about all these topics- the learning process, building a business, my hearing journey- in a bit more depth. So watch this space.