Last night, I turned my email off early and went to lay down. I pulled out my iPad to watch a bit of TV, in the midst of House of Lies, a push notification dinged.
I saw the words “Jody Sherman” and thought to myself, “what is that crazy dude up to now?”
Everything stopped. The world got quiet. My brain abuzz with activity about my day just froze.
How the fuck is this true? I didn’t care how it happened, or why, but just that it did. I just cared about my friend and that he must have felt such pain.
And as I read all the amazing responses to his life on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs wrote amazing posts) it seemed that while we all knew there was sadness, we attributed it to the roller coaster of being a founder.
My friends Sarah and Mark wrote more eloquently about his life than I ever can. I will be in forever debt to Paige Craig for introducing us. Thank you.
He is gone and that is crushing my heart.
I don’t know the reasons around his death, or if it was by choice. I certainly don’t want to imply something that I don’t know, but that cat was one of the healthiest people I knew and people closer to him seem to be implying it was by choice. If it was, I wish I didn’t understand the choice, but I do.
Every day of my life since I was twelve I have had to convince myself to stay alive. Some days its easy. Some days its hard. As someone who deals with being bipolar, suicidal thoughts are just a way of life. Just like days of intense love. Those are nice when they happen. They just rarely do.
Being a founder is hard. And not because the work is hard (but it is), or the rejection (that sucks). It’s not that you are on a island trying to change the world (totally blows), or that everyone just doesn’t understand (why should they), but because you are supposed be a Superman who fights against all. You are impervious to pain.
So we fake it. We party hard, we go to a million events. We smile and say “killin' it!” when asked about progress.
Funny enough, no one asked about us, only our companies, as if we have someone been absorbed into this larger organism and our humanity no longer matters.
About a year ago I was having real difficulty separating my identity from my company’s. Graphicly was struggling. Yet, I was spending hours and hours weekly talking to founders that all felt that they are doing better than me. My standard suicidal thoughts started to be tinged with questions about my ability to achieve. I never question my ability. But I did.
I remember sitting in the dark staring at a wall questioning everything. The bad thoughts were screaming in my head, and it seemed that there was a simple solution. An easy way out.
And in the midst of the darkness that swirled around me two words floated to the top.
So I did. I started to think about my life and my choices. I realized that Micah the person no longer existed. He had been consumed by Micah the founder, mentor, entrepreneur. I realized that the “me” I loved no longer existed, and that they way–the only way–I could make all of this work was to just stop.
So I did. I put extracting myself as a primary concern. I became selfish. I became clear with myself as to what success was and how I defined it. I decided that the greatest gift I could give myself was myself. So I stopped.
And went to sleep.
Later when I woke I was equally sure of my decision as the night before, and I did what I am doing now. I wrote. I didn’t check email. I didn’t work. Just stopped and wrote.
Sleep well, Jody. I wish I had the opportunity to have this discussion with you. To tell you to just stop and realize how much you are loved because of you, not because of what you do or give, but just because of you.