We (almost) never realize how great of a time we’re having when we are in the moment and living it.
When I look back, I realize studying abroad was one of the best experiences I’ll likely ever have. I made some of the deepest friendships of my life in six short months, and although I knew I was having fun in the moment I didn’t appreciate how special it was until later. No matter how much I try to recreate that time it will never happen because it was such a unique mix of people and circumstances.
Some Helpful Advice
Fast forward 8 years and I find myself, again, living a life that is fast paced and full of exciting new experiences; but this time in the business realm working alongside innovative startups. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are farther down the line in their startup who tell me that this time and the space I’m in are priceless, but that it’s inevitably temporary. The funny thing is, that’s the same thing I heard from my friends who had studied abroad before me.
And even though I find the comment a little depressing, I do appreciate the sentiment.
And I have come to the realization in the last week that they are right. This time I’m in right now is another one of those special moments in life. And the reason why is that being in a community of startups is a lot like studying abroad.
We are a group of people who are, for the most part, in the same age range. We have similar goals; similar outlooks; a similar willingness to make ourselves vulnerable. (Check out my co-worker’s vulnerability project here!)We are a very special mixture/cocktail. And what makes this so special is that it won’t last.
Studying abroad only lasts a matter of months. The whole point is that you are only there for an extended stay. Long enough to get a feel for the culture and expand your understanding but not long enough to put down roots.
For a lot of startups, it’s the same story. In many cases, our goal is to get funded, grow, expand. We don’t expect to be a tiny team working alongside other tiny teams forever. Which means that all those friends we working with everyday in our coworking spaces and incubators, those people that have become like family to us, they aren’t going to be working beside us for years or even months in some cases.
During my past 9 months in the startup scene in St. Louis, I’ve developed so many amazing friendships, just like when I studied abroad. Because we are all in a new place; we’re all dreamers, all a little desperate.
Everyday I come to work with people who are doing amazing things and growing their outstanding talent. We roll in the door and drink that first cup of coffee together in the morning; we eat our meals together; spend our days, nights, weekends and holidays together; share our ideas, insecurities, successes and failures; we are living most aspects of our lives intertwined with each other.
I have a group of people here who I meet with every week to work on our side “fiction writing” projects; I have people who I go out (or stay in) with for beers; a mastermind team that focuses on creating meaningful content and brainstorming new ideas; people who I work out with; a group that meets up for weekly game nights.
Reflect and Be Thankful (But Don’t Let it Stop You)
These multi-dimensional relationships are things that a lot of my friends in other fields don’t have. Things that I didn’t have to the same degree, or in some cases at all, until I started my journey into the startup world. And when I think about the fact that we’re probably all going to end up moving to different cities or on to different jobs and offices in the future, I can’t think about it too long without getting sad. But, for however long we are in this game together, we are like a family.
And I love it. I love these people. That’s the realization I had this week. That I’ve got to enjoy these people while I have them in my life. Because this is a magic moment and it won’t last long.
So to all those people who are in this with me, know that you have my love and support, and that wherever we go from here you will always be someone who has a special place in my life. I can’t wait to see where your talent takes you!
All this reflection came about in anticipation of a co-worker taking a year off to travel, digital nomad style. As sad as I am to see him go, I’m excited for all the adventures he is about to have. Safe travels to you, Justin Chick! (He is a badass WordPress Developer, by the way! Check him out.)
This article was previously published on Medium. Read the original article.
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