I am sometimes a runner, often an escape artist. I hover at the edge of commitment and look down. Wonder. Then I turn. I walk away slowly, looking back a few times, considering what the future might reveal if I just stood still.
For the first five years of my adult life, I treated work like a hobby. I wrote comedy for a radio company, submitting my copy via email each day. I made reasonable money for someone who knew how to live on a dime, but I never had the kind of cash that (anybody’s) mom wrote home about. I spent my free time writing chapters of novels never to be finished and dreaming up scripts I’d likely never write. I chased boys, who never became men. I leaned in to love so far, I almost married the wrong person. I moved from Los Angeles, to Denver, to Boston, to Vancouver, to Denver again. I left my heart in San Francisco and returned three times to retrieve it.
And then I fell in love, for real this time, with a small company. I dove in with abandon, devouring the opportunity to focus on one amazing product. For the first time in my life, I could not stop talking about work. I spent evenings and weekends thinking of ways to expand my little corner of our empire. I skipped dates, gave up vacations, and even spent an entire weekend painting our office. I felt so damn important for the first time; I was finally a part of something. Something incredibly meaningful.
In an instant, it was gone. The reasons mattered less than the outcome: I found myself jobless, along with the rest of my team. Everything I had worked so hard for had ended in an instant. I felt a terrible sense of loss, not solely because of the result, but because I had poured so much of my soul into those three years.
From that day forward, I have chosen to work for myself. My life has become a constant dance: engage, disengage, lean in, lean back. With each client, I become passionately involved, yet I also try hard not to overstep. I sneak into companies, learn their deepest desires, sprinkle a few words, and then disappear. I fall in love immediately, almost without fail. I find myself becoming attached not only to the brands that are built, but also to the dreams that are shared along the way. When I leave, it is usually with my heart in my hand. I follow my brands like children, watching from afar as they evolve and grow over time.
I have always been the captain of my own destiny. And yet, as time has gone on, I sometimes yearn to hold on to something for longer than an instant. To work not just for an hour, a week, or even a month with a team, but to get into the “real” stuff, for good and bad; to be in it together, breathing the same air, experiencing the same primal desire to make something happen; to experience the disappointments, trudge through the dull times and sneak in secret happy hours disguised as conference calls.
I used to believe I learned more on my own than I ever did working closely with a team. But I now see the balance and the beauty in both, and why each is good for different reasons. And while I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, I’m content to continue down this path, leaning in sometimes, leaning back others, wandering to a place I will eventually call home.