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relationships are like small businesses

by Kirk Hensler originally published on Rebelle Society on March 18, 2013

Relationships are like small businesses. All the phases are identical. It starts with excitement about the thought of something spectacular.

The design, planning, strategizing, the hugging, kissing, and cuddling—all more than enough to get you motivated and out of bed in the morning. At least this is how it works for most people.

The relationships we create in our heads are based on our research, experiences and desires. But it never works out the way we expected. They are nothing like what we prepared for.

I called my mom the day before my studio’s grand opening. She was emotional and trying to get me excited. I was having a hard time not thinking that I’d gone and really fucked myself. A few weeks before, I was about to board a plane to India and never look back.  Now, I was committed to a 3-year lease with a 3-year option.

For me, new relationships (businesses) are just new opportunities to be let down. Before I realize excitement I rationalize the potential for failure. Everything fails eventually. Why invest my time and energy into something that won’t last forever? Wasn’t it supposed to be magical and fix my life?

But it seems like life continued.

There are so many tests with relationships. And they don’t stop coming. Traveling is easy. Dating is easy. If you don’t like something, you move on. You decide if you want to be tested or not.

The first six months of running my studio were difficult. It was so much work. Everything I wanted to happen I had to make happen.  There was no magic. And unlike traveling, if I didn’t fix something it kept coming up, over and over again until I did something about it.

I learned more things about my character than I was prepared for, some truths I didn’t really want to face. I was hoping to have a good idea and be rewarded immediately. But there was no glory, only work. Nobody gave a shit about what I thought, only what I did. It wasn’t about putting on a strong face and being a mess inside. In a business, people are watching. If it’s broken on the inside then it’s broken on the outside.

More time went by. Sometimes I was so overwhelmed I didn’t think I could wake up and face the responsibility. I would send teachers in to sub my classes because I couldn’t face the students. Getting to know them, liking them, meant I couldn’t one day leave them.

I wanted to leave. But the business wouldn’t let me. Too many other people were depending on it for their well-being. I had no choice but to stick it out. I hated the people for it.

It wasn’t what I signed up for. I don’t like people. You get close to them and then they just let you down, like they don’t care about you.

During the time I spent thinking about how I could sell my business or default on my lease or flee the country without explanation I realized I was wasting a lot of energy being a little bitch.

I couldn’t go on like that and be proud of who I really was as a person. I had to turn it around. I made lists, held meetings, delegated responsibilities, and stopped acting like I wasn’t one of the luckiest people in the world.

I cleaned up my act and started waking up hungry to kick life’s ass. As a result, the studio began looking like exactly what I had hoped it would. It was the relationship I had always dreamed of. I fed it and it fed me. I couldn’t stop, I didn’t want to.

I looked around and saw what was happening. I had one of those ‘moments’ – a time when the only thing that made sense was crying uncontrollably, and not because I was sad.

I finally understood what it meant to actually know something, or someone. Better yet, someone knew me.

The people that have been coming in for years, seeing them through all their shit, all of my shit, I finally had enough to see something true and honest. I knew it was something that only time could reveal. And it was worth all the struggling, every last second.

It’s easy to connect the dots. We’ve all read the quotes. Relationships are mirrors, life is what you make of it and so on. But listen to me, it’s the truth. There are still days (quite a few) when I wake up and my first thought is, “fuck, this again.” But my life is starting to look pretty damn close to one that I would die to live for.

I own two businesses now and have started a non-profit that offers yoga, martial arts, and creative arts to kids with no means to pay for these kinds of things. I have a network of people that would literally bleed to help me with future projects and, most importantly, I have the confidence to turn ideas into reality, not only for myself but for the entire world around me.

There is no more time to sit around and wish things were different. It’s time to make them different.

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