sweet and sour

Jay Clouse motivation

In a former life, I ran a ticketing business with a partner in Cincinnati. The ticketing business isn’t sexy, and the secondary market was birthed from the days of illegal scalping.

The product we sold had very finite value; once the event was over, a ticket’s value went to $0. No matter what the event was, or how much that ticket had been worth before the event started.

And, in the ticketing business, a single ticket may be listed for sale in dozens of marketplaces. This meant that purchasing decisions often came down to having the cheapest price for the commodity, and customer loyalty was hard to come by. All in all, the ticketing industry is home to some of the worst customer service issues you could imagine.

The reality was our highs weren’t very high, and our lows were often very low.

Fresh off of a break up and lacking a strong support system, I developed a coping mechanism: I walled off. I didn’t wall myself off from others, but I walled myself off from my own emotions.

The cliché is to speak about entrepreneurship in terms of an emotional roller coaster with ‘constant ups and downs.’ But since our downs could be so low relative to our highs, I tried to stay right along the X-axis. I cut off all extremes.

Basically, I approached life with an aggressive, “meh.”

For the last several weeks, my brain has been on fire. With some help from friends and a lot of active introspection, I’ve never felt more clarity, focus, and direction in every facet of my life.

I’ve maintained high levels of joy, calmness, and optimism. I’ve had the opportunities for peaks, and I’ve allowed myself to embrace them.

As I write this, I find myself in the throes of anxiety. My mind is racing, I’m telling myself things I know not to be true, I’m questioning how I’m spending my time and everything that was so obvious and clear just days ago.

This is the cost of the highs. You have to subject yourself to and embrace the lows, too.

Removing the extremes was an effective strategy for avoiding those lows, but I had forgotten how sweet the highs can be. “And the sweet is never as sweet without the sour.”


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