There are times I take on a lot.
I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I may huff and puff during the process, but things seem to work out.
Recently, I had about three friends suck their teeth at me when I started doubting myself. A beloved professor and mentor of mine was retiring from the university, so as a joke I told a friend I’d design a funny tee-shirt in his honor. (Some of you lifers remember when I was heavy on my t-shirt business and kind of gave up on it.)
My friend loved the idea and then I shared it with a few others and they all wanted shirts in time for the retirement celebration. I told my friends the money we’d collect from our shirts would go toward a scholarship fund being created in our professor’s honor. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.
My friend reminded me that just as they loved the idea, other people at the party were going to love it too, and to be prepared for an onslaught of orders. Another friend who was so tickled by the idea offered to build me a webstore prior to the event.
But the idea of my shirt being such a success scared the crap out of me.
How would I organize this? How would I handle the orders? Would people be willing to pay the price? How would I ship it? Is it the right quality? Is it good enough?
The thought of the business management side of it paralyzed me.
So I said, I’d just buy a couple extra shirts on top of the ones I promised to a few friends attending and would see how things went.
My friends were right.
As soon as we hit the building, people wanted shirts. We sold every single “extra” shirt (and by extra I only had three extra because I was worried about putting out so much money for extra shirts out of my own pocket because I told my friends all of their money would go to the scholarship. I was willing to take the financial hit.)
The man of the hour put on his free shirt immediately! (If that’s not affirmation, I don’t know what is.)
Illustrious alumni with highly impressive careers sought me out and quipped that they could afford a $20 shirt, so gimme!
I felt silly and embarrased and unprepared by only having such a scant amount of merchandise in a place with such enthusiastic demand.
So immediately, my website builder friend made me, in the middle of the party buy a domain name, via a smart phone and my other friends offered to help me pack and ship orders and work on a Facebook page. Then they all got together and said, “I told you so.” Even named themselves the, “I told you so crew” and did an “I told you so” dance.
I mentioned this situation to another friend completely unrelated to the ones at the party and when I told her how things went and how scared I was to really promote the shirts, she gave me the “you idiot” glare, then she offered to assist me too.
Photos of the shirts from the party circulating on Facebook have total strangers asking about them in the comments and saying things like, “Take my money!” “Want one!” “Need one!”
I got business cards and slips of paper with phone numbers and email addresses of people who wanted to know when more shirts were being made.
I was overwhelmed. But in a positive way.
I say all of this to say, it pays to have friends who believe in you when you’re scared. It’s downright funny when they get annoyed that you aren’t seeing what they see in you too. What’s the best about these kinds of friends is, they don’t just believe in your dream and say you can do it, they’ll give you a push and offer up their time, skills and talents and even money to invest in you so you can feel even more confident and less alone in the process.
The original friend who I shared the idea with me told me that it was bothersome that somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. That the old me would have not been so fearful about making the shirts and selling them.
And she was right. I’m not sure exactly of what happened or why. And maybe all of that doesn’t matter.
I’m just glad to know that I have amazing people in my life who will remind me, and force me if necessary to get it back and fly.