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Train Wrecks and That Nagging Feeling

Train via Wikimedia Commons

No one tells you about that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that emerges when you run your own company.

It's what tells entrepreneurs you need to keep working, you’re not doing enough, and you better work faster and more efficiently… or terrible things will happen. So you keep going and you keep working to some ungodly hour.

Some days, it really does feel like the movie Speed. If the bus slows down even a little, it’s going to derail and explode.


That’s what it feels like when I stop doing work. No one told me about this.

Every article I've read online says being your own boss is all about hard work and every entrepreneur tells me this too, but there's no mention of what happens when you stop doing work. It feels weird. It feels like I'm falling asleep at the wheel and the bus will derail. I only fully appreciated this when I went through my first week doing this as my full-time job.

My routine has been: Get up, check emails, go to any work meetings or appointments scheduled, do social media, check emails again, look up trends, brainstorm future directions, design products, work on website, etc. There is no ending.

I’ve pretty much spent every waking moment thinking about Fire and Steel. And in my dreams, I dreamt about swords. It’s not weird for me to sleep at 4 a.m. anymore.

As I’m writing this, I’ve been on a steady diet of chocolate and instant noodles for the past three days. The good thing is that kung fu started back up again after the holiday break and that’s my plan to keep marginally sane and work off all the junk food I’ve been eating.

Entrepreneurs and start ups often only write about how great and wonderful everything is. As if they’re riding unicorns to work and their desks are made out of gumdrops and rainbows.

I feel like that’s the problem with how we consume social media. We only see the amazing parts of people’s lives, and the finished products of companies and start-ups. No one really says, “Wow, I’ve eaten garbage for three days, I haven’t slept properly in a week and I look like Gollum.”

Yes, in only one week, I’ve become Gollum. If you gave me a ring, I’d probably say “my preciouussss” and hide in a cave with my laptop. They don’t warn you about this in those feel-good entrepreneur articles. No one ever writes about this.

You only see the pretty pictures and the nice products and the nice food. You never see the secret train wrecks behind all of it.

So for this past week, this persistent nagging feeling hasn’t gone away, but I’m actually okay with it. I scratched my head and asked myself why is that? Shouldn’t I be more frustrated about this?

The last time I felt like this was in high school. If something I was working on didn’t look quite right, the nagging feeling would keep me working until it was ‘fixed.’ Whatever that meant.

It was in these moments I felt I achieved some pretty fantastic things. Like the cubist interpretation of a chair that looked like space vomit, or the short horror story I wrote that didn’t make sense.

Like Fire and Steel, these were things that would not necessarily be worthy of awards or honours. But they are things I am proud of because they meant something to me.

We often spend so much time living for other people that we forget to do things that are meaningful to ourselves.

I’ve realized this week that this nagging feeling is actually the internal push to pursue happiness. It's easy to forget what that feels like.


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