I was trying to hold it together as I was driving back to my home just north of Boston. My insides felt ripped up, like someone had taken an organ out of my body and it was trying to figure out how to function without it. I eventually had to pull over before getting on the highway to call my friend Meagan and tell her what had happened at home. I felt my eyes swell fast as I recalled what had happened, and as I barely blubbered the words out from my mouth.
Two weeks before, I told my parents I am a professional snuggler on the side of my fulltime job. They were a bit shocked, but even more shocked when I told them there is viability in the market and that I was exploring taking it on fullforce since opportunities for exposure came out recently. I told them if things went well, I wanted to consider this as a first step in the entrepreneurial endeavors I have bottled up inside me (I knew I'd become a serial entrepreneur eventually; I have a drive to follow through with strange things I want to pursue so much, and I'm most definitely a multi-passionate person that wants to put these things into my life).
The weekend before, my dad met me for brunch to discuss why I wanted to do all of this. I put my heart on the table with all of my ideas. His response was lukewarm at best and completely draining to be in the presence of at worst.
I sat in my Toyota Corolla pulled over at a local convenience store, eyes blurred and hot stinging tears rolling down from my cheeks and dripping from my chin into a puddle on my lap, telling Meagan about the 45-minute horror I just faced. I told her how my parents told me for nearly an hour how super unsupportive of the side job I had been contemplating for a full-time endeavor they are; that this is irresponsible to conduct myself this way; that they've been yelled at for being bad parents for letting me do such a dangerous thing (which I took as coming from a place of judgement and closemindedness rather than a place of open to discussion despite being skeptical); that they think my life has spun out of control; that I've been meeting too many new and strange people; that I need to get out of the city and back into a small town and forget about the social life I've been building; that I need to go back to grad school and get an MBA if I want to do "real" business; that I'm irresponsible with my expenses; that they didn't teach me to be this way at all. Some of these statements were true. Most of them were not; it was just the lenses that they saw me through at the time.
At this point in my life, I had been an open book. I let people in and told them everything, no bars held. I left myself vulnerable and without caring what others thought of me.
But it really, really hurt when the people that raised me-- the people that loved me, cared for me, clothed me, got me an education, invested their own memories and stories into me, guided me my entire life, and all of that-- couldn't stand by my decisions and actively tried to get me to stop. And not just support me, but vehemently expressed that they do not agree with the person I have been becoming.
That hurt the most.
I've always operated as an open book for anyone to come read. I was never afraid to. And, in fact, I appreciate people that are willing to be open books! But what I've learned in the past few months is that being an open book is only one step in letting yourself evolve emotionally with others.
I will gladly take being an open book over being an impossible escape room, letting no one understand what my intentions are and simply being a character that people see but never get to know on a personal level.
But there's a level above being an open book, and it's what I call giving tickets to your show.
Here's the concept: Every single person on this earth's life is a show or some sort. I call mine the "Sam Show". People are let in at a certain baseline level. This blog is part of this baseline level for me, which tends to be more on the "open book-ish" level. These are the aspects that you see (we'll talk about the "Paparazzi" some other time). What kind of show people experience-- what they see, in what detail, how close they are to seeing the sweat on your brow, etc.-- is dependent on where they are seated. In your show, you get to give tickets to the people that invest in the seats. And I highly recommend giving seats to that show based on their investment.
How do people invest in their seats? In my case, it's their level of understanding. It's their interest and closeness to me. It's how much I can trust them to handle what it is I go through. It's how much I feel comfortable letting them see. It's their acceptance of my weird mind and the way I handle situations. It's supporting and sometimes even expanding upon my wonky ideas and silly quirks. It's them smiling and clapping as I let myself stand out rather than shaking their heads in disapproval. It's promoting your "show" when they buy the tickets. Those are the ones that get the best seats in the house.
Sometimes people that we feel should be close to us we can't even let in past the bouncer. Even if they invest in some ways and have the means to "pay" for a ticket, the way they behave at your show is too great a risk for you and your show. Those are the hardest to accept. But with time, investment and understanding, you can also choose to change that situation. In the meantime, you have a show to run.
I'm very thankful. Especially within the past year, I have found awesome people in my life that are filling up my front row. I have people that I've moved back and forth between my middle seats, back seats, the front pit seats (because yes, there will be a dance pit at my show), and even a select few that expressed a deep want to be part of the stage crew. I have people that aren't let into the show, but maybe when they hear good things from outside sources they want to be back there. Hell, a few people even decide to add to their own shows because of the show I put on for them! And they were all in various seats at my show. If I can put on an experience like that for people, then I'm starting to attract the right people to my shows. I'm starting to find my rat people.
This level of emotional management can be exhausting as people move in and out of your life at first because you may not have ever had to do this level of management in your own life, but it is worth it for you and everyone that is involved in your life. But especially you so you can put out the best possible show you can.