May 10th, 2020
When I was in 5th grade, I started my first business.
I’ve always been a dreamer and a scribbler; that year, I started sketching full page portraits of Lion King characters based on (read: basically copied from) their trading cards. Some of the other kids saw me doodling these at my desk and really liked them. So much so that they were willing to pay for them.
This concept blew my mind. Kids were giving me whole dollar bills to recreate this art I loved on another surface. But I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand; a friend of mine (I can’t vividly remember who, but I think James?) suggested I should keep the originals and sell photocopies of those. GENIUS. His mom even had a photocopier at work that we for sure could use.
And then it all fell apart. I don’t completely remember why, but I remember feeling overwhelmed at first, at some increasingly imagined pressure. My excitement over the idea of the end result — me, sitting on a pile of dollar bills and being universally adored — slipped away like spaghetti through my fingers. I started being more critical of myself, and now understood that there was an audience, with expectations. I could potentially let somebody down. Somebody who had already given me their money, even.
This cycle has continued through me every single day of the rest of my life.
The only difference now is I’ve seen the end result. It’s not piles of dollar bills or mass adoration. But it is a sense of purpose, and it’s fulfillment. It’s a nice word here and there. It’s finding people who connect and feel the same ways that I do. It’s a random message or a fist bump or an affirmation: we’re going to be okay, you and me.
This is basically just a long-winded way of me saying: if I took a dollar from you in 5th grade and never gave you your Lion King drawing, please message me so I can Venmo your dollar back. I still feel really bad about this.