Sometimes It's Hard...
Sometimes it's hard. The very platforms that enable me to follow my dreams are the ones that leave me feeling burned.
Before any of this began, I always knew I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level and I dreamed of owning a business of my own. The connection I knew would come to life - all I had to do was put myself out there, be vulnerable and compassionate - and I would fulfill that desire to be more to the people that I meet than just another face in the crowd. The business, I thought, was just a pipe dream - a coffee shop pipe dream, to be specific.
Ironically, the business came to life because of the connections I had made.
In my younger years, I volunteered at soup kitchens, visited nursing homes, traveled with Habitat for Humanity, joined environmental clubs and wine clubs... all of which sparked my fire, but never kept the fire burning long enough for me to feel like I'd found my purpose. And then I began teaching. It was almost instant. I had to build my confidence in front of the women I taught before I could recognize what they were giving me. But, once I realized the fire had been lit there was no putting it out.
For so long I never even considered owning my own studio. The coffee shop pipe dream was still in my head. In fact, while teaching for another studio I remember downloading a "how to open a coffee shop" guide...(funny, I never downloaded a "how to open a studio" guide). I was living my dream: I had a job that paid the bills, I had a job that fed my soul and I poured my heart into that place and into the people who came there. It was only when I began to feel like the people weren't being treated the way that they should be that I began to consider starting something on my own so that I could control not only how people felt when they were in my classes, but how they felt when the walked through the studio doors and when they left, and when they looked at the website and the Facebook page and so on -- the whole experience.
And so, The Energy Barre was born, not so ironically out of wanting to make people feel good. The mission began with self-love and gratitude.
Opening a fitness studio this was the simplest and purest place to start. Fitness is about so much more than physically working the body; to achieve a harmonious relationship with the body you must work physically and mentally - you cannot design a body you love if you don't love it from the inside first.
Operating a service-based business should always be founded on gratitude. You simply cannot exist without your clients, so a constant expression of gratitude and genuine care is essential. And so, my heart follows this mission and has since day one. It is my hope that the studio is a place that instills a feeling of peace (while being physically challenged) to all who come to work and to workout. Each detail is thought out and has a purpose.
Since the studio has begun to spread it's roots, I have begun to expand my efforts to connect. I love men and women alike, but there's just something about women I am so drawn to emotionally. Perhaps most basically because I am one and because I feel things so strongly I am able to relate on many levels. Whatever it is, I feel a calling to use the platform of the studio to share my experiences and my thoughts so that maybe another woman can feel inspired or relieved or empowered. And now that I have begun to chip away at this iceberg, I have to admit, I maybe in over my head.
Sometimes it's hard. The very platforms that enable me to follow my dreams are those that leave me feeling burned. Without the studio, I would not have a single follower. I also would not have a constant muse or source of inspiration. Without the Internet and social media, I would not have a platform from which to share my thoughts or to expose myself in the hopes to reach others. But, I cannot filter what is seen by whom, and I cannot control what I see in return. This is a glaring reality, but being such an amateur in the business-owner and blogging world, I am still trying to adapt.
I pour my heart into this business. I don't sleep much. I work weekends. I miss out on things. In a community where there is a fitness studio on every corner, I aspire to carve out my own unique identity. That is what a business owner does. I truly love it and what I receive in return is invaluable.
Social media got my business off the ground. The convenience of the Internet and a well-designed website gave me exposure that entrepreneurs before my time were not so fortunate to have. But, it also opens the door for imitation. I've written class descriptions that have been all but copy and pasted to another studios page. I've created events that have popped up nearby with another face and name. I've put thought, love, and personal touches into the design of the studio space and its virtual space and have seen alarmingly similar styles appear right in front of me.
I expose myself in hopes that my fears, insecurities, strengths, and confidence will in some way help another to cope, overcome, or celebrate. The ability to write my feelings and feel that they are shared is like a therapy session to me. I usually begin writing because I am affected in some way, and by the end of the entry I feel lighter. But, it opens me up to judgement. I've shared this fear in previous posts and have been supported and empowered by my very small following. But, it's still there each time I write. Sometimes I never hit "post". I look at the bloggers who inspire me and see the positive and negative aspects to the exposure that they have. And sometimes I am left to wonder if I truly have thick enough skin to continue with this blog.
Visibility and individuality are double-edged swords. This is a reality that every business owner and every blogger faces. But I share this here because it is a reality that every individual faces. If you do something, anything well, you will inspire a reaction. This can be flattering, and it can be frustrating. It's okay to enjoy the flattery and it's okay to acknowledge the frustration, but don't lose your focus. No one is you, and that is your power. The world is full of different people doing a lot of the same things. Sometimes you're the one being imitated, and sometimes you're the one being inspired. This is one of life's many balancing scales.