The Armstrong Family Circus

published and designed by Wiseacre Design Studio

Maineville • Ohio • USA

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Love is loves sad news

Friday September 30th 2011

by Paul Armstrong

Love is loves sad news


10 years ago, I was forced into a life (that I would later embrace) beyond my choosing. For a long time I blamed others, I stewed in injustice, wallowed in self-pity and allowed myself to make bad decisions because I was only worth bad results. Whether we make a choice or have it made for us; each decision and reaction we make has it's flipside.


For the better part of 10 years I've worked alone. I often lied to myself and said it was because I wanted to be around the kids, be at home, be a father who was actively involved in the life of his family. While that's partially true, I stayed home because I was angry and afraid. I was angry at myself — for my choices, my lack of self-control, my indecision — and at others for giving up quickly, for acting childish. I was afraid of trusting anyone, of being rejected, of having to start over. While being at home did ultimately allow me more time and flexibity with my kids — it's been a burden on my self-esteem and our financial stability. 


In life even (what we perceive as) a good decision can have negative consequences. Everything we do is a sacrifice for something else. The flexibility of being at home, setting my own hours — being able to spend time with the kids (drive them to school, help out in a pinch on a moments notice), have lunch with them when they're home, etc — also meant that I was (am) never paid consistently, keeping us from being able finanically do many many things. It meant that I constantly felt (feel) unable to provide for my family — unsuccessful, stressed (about money and completely projects, getting new clients),  and pathetic. But, if I had a full time job, with a steady paycheck, I'd be unable to help make dinner, grocery shop, drive the kids to school, see the kids every now and then during summers (or when they were in preschool to just do lunch with them). Neither choice is more right than the other; just different sacrifices.


Ultimately though, it isn't the immediate sacrfices that matter, but the potential long term rewards (that sometimes, we don't even see fulfilled). It matters to my kids that I was and am a father who is around, who put life above work, who could be at home with them when they were sick. My stress and my self-esteem aren't things that matter to them. 


Stop worrying about making the right decisions based on the pressures of what is acceptable or normal or popular — make decisions that make the most sense for you and your family and your life and own it, accept it and do it the best that you possibly can.




Comments for "Love is loves sad news"

Great insight and very personal. Definitely could relate.

Paul - I think you pretty much summed up a lot of the things that have been on my mind the last couple weeks (especially).

I think there's always a really tough balance that anyone with an inkling of creative spirit has to find in order to feel fulfilled, happy, or whatever you want to call it. Spending time with my family is really important but there's lot of times when I feel like maybe I'm missing out on being able to follow an idea that would both bring some sense of fulfillment but also allow me to be even more free to be in the moment with my wife and kids.

A proper paying gig is nice on one hand, but some of the sacrifices that come with that really might not be worth it -- if for no other reason than how f'd up most companies are because they're too busy fighting one fire after another to notice either what that kind of environment does to morale, or what opportunities they're missing out on as a result.

Or maybe that's just Canada ;-)

Very raw writing Paul. This certainly strikes a chord with anyone who has started their own shop. The realities of running a business—as you point out—can play dangerously with one's self-image. And, our self-image probably shouldn't be so primarily aligned with business "success."

Thanks for sharing.

@Scott - no, it's not just Canada. I've worked in a few studios and like with all people, proximity and time and stress can deteriorate any relationship - and often dysfunction ensues (especially because you aren't married to these people, they're not family, and the desire to "work it out" just isn't always there).

@Ben I only ever write raw ;-) I'm writing something on "success" right now.

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