I'm having an affair.
It is, as they say, complicated. It's not an affair in the typical sense, but it feels like I imagine an affair would feel: excitement, longing, and validation, coupled with denial, secrecy, and fear.
I've never seen myself as the sort of person who could feel this overwhelming passion for anything. Deep love, I'm familiar with. This is different. Until it all happened, I was not a risk taker or entrepreneurial in any way. Then things changed, and I can't recall ever feeling quite like this before. The affair I'm having is with my small business, and I can't stop thinking about it.
It is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. On weekends, I stealthily sneak out of bed and tiptoe down the hall to steal extra work time. When my husband gets up and asks how long I've been awake, I say twenty minutes when it's actually been two hours. In spite of the pleasure and nourishment the work gives me, (or perhaps because of it) I don't want to admit to him or to myself just what I've been up to.
I also indulge my affair by secretly buying it expensive gifts: lights for the videos, professional photos for the website, and business coaching. My business is still in the red, and a rational person would abstain from these indulgences, but I throw caution to the wind. How can something be wrong when it feels so right
When I'm feeling bored or disengaged, I fantasize about it. In my mind, I replay the highlight reel of the best parts of our relationship thus far and imagine all the joy and satisfaction that our future together holds. Friends have told me that I "light up" when I talk about it. This doesn't surprise me, because this passion makes me feel like a new, more fully realized version of myself. I'm now someone with a purpose, someone who pushes herself outside her comfort zone, someone who is fueled by an invisible fire.
While I'm afraid of having my business fail completely, I wouldn't have any regrets if it did. Even if it all ended tomorrow, I have been changed for the better because of it. If my business flourishes and grows and lasts for years to come, I suspect the passion will cool somewhat. I'm not afraid of this inevitability, though. In truth, I look forward to having my affair evolve into a solid and committed, albeit still playful, marriage.
Kristin McKeown is a teacher advocate and coach who helps hard-working educators avoid burnout and find their balance so they can be at their best for their students, colleagues, and families. Through her site, TeachingBalance.com, Kristin integrates her experience as a meditation teacher with her 22 years in public education to offer mindfulness-based strategies for wellness and stress-management.
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