Starting a business is a crazy, wild ride. It’s the kind of thing that you imagine will be a certain way, but once you’re in it, you realize everything is sort of the same, except now you are the asshole boss you’ve been trying to escape your whole life. You are face to face with all of your hang-ups and worries and weaknesses and insecurities all day, every day. There is no one to blame when things go poorly. When you take a day off, you feel like a lazy jerk and when you work furiously into the the wee hours of the morning, you feel like you’ve barely scratched the surface. You are Sisysphus, pushing that rock up that hill everyday.
Conversely, it’s awesome to be able to stay in your pajamas all day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those weakness and insecurities lately, and the benefits and draw-backs of this path I’ve chosen. Up until now I’ve been writing about my experience in the gun world and what has brought me to this point. I’d like to briefly tell you about some of the unintended consequences of getting involved with guns, like starting a business out of my house, and how they’ve shaped my life.
As is frequently the case in the course of growing up and sorting out all of one’s baggage, I was angry when I was younger. I was angry for a long time about a lot of things that I perceived as unfair, unjust and out of my control, thus making me the tragic victim of my own life. This caused me to be guarded around people. Being guarded kept most people away, which I wanted, but it also made me lonely. Loneliness made me sad and more guarded, which in turn, made me feel more like the tragic victim of my own life. You see how this is going, right?
And then time passes and things go on. And I begin to see that this strategy of guardedness isn’t working out for me. I have this weird dead spot inside of me, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m not really the kind of person who craves the company of others, but I do desire connection, and at this point, I have no idea how to make connections. Luckily, I know one person in the world who really understands me and it’s my husband. Unfortunately, we share a lot of the same hang-ups, including the guardedness. So, we identify the problem and set to puzzling out some solutions. We quickly realize that there are two concepts that keep coming up when we discuss what we’re looking for. Those concepts are self-sufficiency and community. We both want to be able to do/make/build/repair/learn more things. We want to live in a way where we aren’t forced to depend on others for all of our needs. At the same time, we want to use these skills to benefit the people around us and strengthen our relationships.
So, we are feeling very smart. We’ve come up with a kick-ass solution to our problem. Except we have no idea how we are going to accomplish these things. And where are we going to find these people who will be our community? I’m not trying to live in some commune or join a weird-ass cult. I tell that to Jon. He seems a little disheartened, as he’s apparently always cherished the idea of infiltrating a weird-ass cult and tearing it apart from the inside out. He has no shortage of ambition, my husband. He quickly rallies however, and we move on.
Soon after we reject the idea of building our own farm as too rash and ill-considered (we can barely grow herbs in the backyard), Jon creates a YouTube channel as a way to gather and share information about the new Kydex holsters he’s been making. At the same time, we join our local gun club and start visiting about once a week. At first, it’s a little awkward. We feel like outsiders and we’re not sure how to talk to people. But we approach these activities as enthusiasts. Both of us are relatively new to guns and holster making and we just want to learn as much as we can. Jon makes frequent videos, and shares everything he learns in the hopes that someone else watching might benefit from his experience. People begin writing to him to tell him how much they like his channel and to share their experiences. Other patrons at the range stop us to ask where we learned to shoot and if we’d like to try out their guns. The owner of the range offers Jon a job. More people find the YouTube channel, and instead of asking Jon for advice on how to make their own holsters, they offer to pay him to make one for them. They are an incredibly supportive group, full of suggestions and encouragement. Jon answers every question that is emailed to him and makes videos about each step of his process–nothing is secret or proprietary. The YouTubers respond by sending gifts. First it is a couple of white marking pencils for laying out the holsters. Then it’s a wooden blank for making molds. A few days later someone shows up at our house with a hand-made book press, clamps and a reaming tool. He refuses to accept any compensation, insisting that Jon’s YouTube videos were payment enough.
We are astounded. It seems that, somehow, in the place that seemed the least likely to us, we finally found our community. And we found it while pursuing an activity that makes us more self-sufficient. Through the process of learning something new, and being open and enthusiastic, we have suddenly met many of our life’s goals and made a whole new group of very loyal, generous friends. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. It seems that the trick for us, is to stay in that initial head-space of curiosity and enthusiasm for the project, and not get too overwhelmed or scared of our own success. There are a lot of pitfalls, and it’s definitely a tall mountain to climb, but I can honestly say, I’ve never been more excited.