Wherein You Find Out Just How Scary That Idea Blueprint Girl Launch Was — Surprise!

by Megan M. on July 13, 2009 · 10 comments (Blog) |

It’s been a whole weekend since I did That Scary Thing I Did, and I have to tell you… it doesn’t stop being scary just because it’s done. Probably because it isn’t actually done!

I often find myself under the delusion that forcing the good change will get it over with and then I won’t have to “suffer through it” anymore. Launch the damn thing, and I won’t have to do the launch anymore. But here’s the thing, folks: You can leap into the freezing lake, and you’re done leaping. Yes, the leap (launch) is over.

But you’re still in the freezing lake!

You either tough it out and get used to the temperature, or you freak out and wail back to shore to find a fluffy towel. And all your friends call you a big whiner. And since I am determined that there will be no wailing, and no shelter-seeking, I am going to enjoy this fucking lake.

I just need a few minutes, you know? After you stick with it awhile, you notice that the lake isn’t really that freezing. It’s actually pretty nice—cool, crisp. And I’m speculating here, because the lake still feels pretty freezing, but I think the water gets to be just lovely. And once that happens, I get to float on my back and feel the sun on my skin and look at the clear blue sky and the tops of the trees… and relax.

So bear with me while I’m getting there. Don’t mind that look on my face. I’m just getting used to the water. ;}

Why is the lake so freaking cold?

I guess I just never jumped into a lake before. Not this kind of lake.

For most of the years I was running my design firm, I was really intent on “doing it right”—which meant, I thought, pretending to be a Real Live Business With People In Suits and Secretaries and Maybe Even Cubicles. It was only later on in that decade when I realized that pretending was a stupid game, and I didn’t like it, and it made me miserable (even though running my own business, compared to working one of the commonly available food service jobs in Youngstown, made me very happy). Encounters with clients made me incredibly nervous during that time—when would they find out? What would they do? The rejection suspense was just ridiculous.

A lot of that stress fell away when I decided, hell with it, I’d be myself. As I built my new network (the right one) I was much happier working for myself as myself, working with people who liked me and were like me, and not worrying so much about being called out as some kind of fraud. But I was still restricting my official business to web and print design. I must have thought I had to. I must have thought no one would take me seriously if I didn’t have that label.

The universe doesn’t screw around, though, when you’re meant to do something (I suppose!). Over the next few years, I found myself doing a ton of work that really wasn’t web or print design—it was a lot more like idea design. I didn’t know what to call this or how to sell it, so I didn’t; I did it for friends, for myself, and I sometimes threw it into the mix with clients I felt comfortable with—but usually for free. It was only very recently, after expanding my network of friends to include the Triiibes community, that I let go of the need to have a label and started doing that idea design work for money. Who cared if it was weird and I didn’t know what to call it? I had happy clients, and people who loved me, and that was all that mattered.

Of course, you know the problem already. You can market labelless to friends who love you, but it’s pretty much impossible to market labelless to strangers or acquaintances. There was no moving up for me here unless I wanted to funnel a lot more energy into making friends. Which is cool—but man, I need downtime, too. I am not strictly an extrovert. I had a feeling that kind of hardcore networking was going to wear me out.

So I decided, once more, that I needed a label.

But I was done with boring labels. I was done with labels that didn’t properly encompass the scope of my playground. I know I’m supposed to “pick a thing”, but I’ve never wanted to “pick a thing”, even in college—Opera? Graphic design? Internet culture? Business-building? No, I’m not going to focus on one and drop the others, screw you people. Ah, my theme song.

And I did find that label, if that’s the right name for it. Sometimes I wonder if I actually found a calling.

So why is it so scary? I don’t get it.

Dude, I don’t get it either. I’ve been searching my soul for the answers this weekend, trying to understand the reluctance I had to move forward and the reluctance I still have to talk about it.

Why is it so scary?

You know… I was always really small-time.

In fact, especially after I dismantled Virtual Magpie and started doing my kind of business just as myself, I didn’t have a standard that anyone was trying to hold me to. No one could try to define me from outside me. They didn’t have anything to base a definition on, unless they’d read through most of my blog—and then, usually, they got it right.

It feels safe to be able to avoid definition that way. It feels safe because the only standards I stood by were my own, and I could do whatever I felt was right at the time and not worry about someone else looking at my setup and deciding I should be doing it differently. It was between me and my client. If they were happy, that’s all I cared about.

But now, something has changed.

I almost feel like this gives the rest of the world leverage.

What that means, I don’t know. I know that it makes me afraid. But I think that fear is borne of insecurity, of the idea that I’ll never survive being judged by someone other than myself—and that if I can keep things quiet enough that my only judge is myself, I’ll do okay.

Furthermore, I always knew that I was building Idea Blueprint Girl as a vehicle for me to do what I loved on a larger scale. Small-time wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go.

And oh, big-time is scary.

But there’s something else here, too.

I can help people much better this way. They can see what I do, and ask me to do it. They don’t have to depend on me to find them and suggest it. It gives them power and it gives me an easy way to connect with people who can use my help.

Funny how quickly the fear overwhelms our better impulses, you know? And silly. Because when I think about how much easier it will be to take on projects that help people, it gives me a thrill. Just a shiver that kind of runs up my spine, or makes my skin tingle. What could I do with this? How can I change the way things work? What new corners can I air out? What wonderful new people will I meet? What incredible projects can I put together? How will I make a difference for them? What will happen next?

Remembering how thrilling it is reminds me why I thought it up in the first place—and that thrill dissipates the fear.

Wow. Can we bottle that headspace?

What does happen next?

Geeze, you got me. I’m just winging this whole thing. It’s so easy to feel strong and confident about pushing someone else’s project forward. I can see it objectively and understand how all the pieces fit together. I’m not stalled or blinded by deep-seated emotional obstacles. I know how easy it is to make something work. When it’s mine, the path is a little fuzzier. But I can still see it, most of the time.

I think I’ll just keep moving forward, and the rest will take care of itself.

What do you think?

  • Nathalie Lussier

    I feel you Megan. I really think you're onto something though. Labels really are tough, but like others have done before, it is possible to make people understand exactly what it is you do without hitting them over the head. :)

    Besides you've got something special here! No one else does exactly what you do, and that's great. Way to go! :D Congrats for sticking it out in the freezing water. It will warm up when you start swimming. ;)

  • julekucera

    I think it's scary because what you did just raised the stakes. It's one thing to say, “Hey, let's toss some ideas around over coffee (or bean sprouts!) for your business it will be fun and I'll do it for freeeeeee so if you don't like it, no problem!” It's another thing to say you are That Idea Blueprint Girl and you know what, being that, doing that, offering that to the world has value and deserves to be compensated. What if they don't like it? Well, those who never did still won't and those who did and do will say, “Oh, of course. Thank goodness she's doing this now, because you know, she really is amazing at this and it suits her so darn well and it makes me happy to work with her like this, not just because I like working with her but also because it's oh-so-very-good for my business.”

  • Sonia Simone

    Woo hoo! I love the freezing lake thing. Sometimes it stays pretty goddamned cold for quite awhile. Good freezing. But still, you know, freezing.

    Labels are so interesting right now. We're all trying to figure out, Just what is this thing called we're doing, anyway?

    Anyway, can't wait to see where it goes. We're rooting for ya. :)

  • pambelding

    Kudos, Congratulations and YOU GO GIRL So proud of you for doing the hard thing. You know, by doing it , you give permission to me and a bunch of other people you don't even know to go and do the hard things in our lives too xoxoxo Now go sit back and pour yourself a tasty beverage because YOU DESERVE IT

  • Megan M.

    I think it's starting to warm up already, thank god. :D Thank you, dearie!

  • Megan M.

    Yeah, you're completely right about raising the stakes. I've been doing this for friends and myself for years, and for clients quietly, tacking it on to make the working relationship more positive and more successful. In the last year I've started doing it more openly and doing “thinking” consulting work, but for the most part it's still been on the down-low just because I didn't have an official presence to go along with it. Now, all of a sudden, it's “what I do”! Wacky, huh?

    Jule, your words always mean so much to me. Thank you a TON.

  • Megan M.

    Thankfully the longer you stay in the freezing water the less you want to get out, whether it's warming up or not—because you've made it this far, why go back now!? Thank you for the rooting! _

  • Megan M.

    ROFL, you're so awesome! Thank you!!

  • Angela Lussier

    Hey Megan! I LOVE this post and think it so perfectly defines that scary moment in time when your mind is less like a flower and more like a boxing match of scary versus more scary. It's cool to hear that you did this and I'd love to interview you for my blog. I'm having a hard time with my title right now too, mostly because it doesn't really fit me at all – good to hear this process is not as easy as others are making it out to be. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing you at the Triiibes conference in a few weeks!

  • Angela Lussier

    Hey Megan! I LOVE this post and think it so perfectly defines that scary moment in time when your mind is less like a flower and more like a boxing match of scary versus more scary. It's cool to hear that you did this and I'd love to interview you for my blog. I'm having a hard time with my title right now too, mostly because it doesn't really fit me at all – good to hear this process is not as easy as others are making it out to be. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing you at the Triiibes conference in a few weeks!

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