just drank a $4 bottle of smart water and im still dumb af someone help
Hey all, been a while.
Let me tell you a story.
2022 was one of the most challenging years of my life.
In 2022 — buildspace raised $10M at a $100M valuation. This company is by far the most valuable, impactful thing I’ve ever worked on. To this day, the company has continued to grow and continue to be pretty successful.
Everything in that sentence above is crazy lol. Especially when you realize this whole thing started in 2019 with me homeschooling kids.
Don’t get me wrong — buildspace is doing really good but it’s still a fledgling baby company trying to to learn how to walk on it’s own. And, we’re just going to keep grinding to make it work.
In time, I’m sure we will.
So…if all is well with the company…what’s up?
It’s really weird to look back at it all — the whole journey.
Nearly every single day for the last ~15-years, I’ve given it my all. From when I was 13 selling blank DVDs on eBay, to when I was 18 making YouTube videos every week, to today when I’m 27 running a company with a huge fanbase.
Each day, I’ve showed up and put in the work. Each day I told myself that I would do it bigger and better than the previous day.
But, I’m not a machine.
This journey I’m on, it can get tiring. It can start to lose its meaning.
In 2022, the things I told myself to keep me going before — stopped working. The core goals that motivated me before — all of a sudden stopped motivating me. The things I built for others that seemed so beautiful to me before — all of a sudden felt like shit and I hated myself for not doing better.
No one ever talks about what’s going on inside their head when they’re on this journey.
And, to be honest I don’t want to tell the world about all of it. But, I do want to tell the world about some of it. Because I know it’s bound to help out at least one person.
It’s 2023 now.
Mentally, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in living memory.
But, I want to tell you of some of my struggles.
“Did you get your wish?”
What happens when you get your wish? When those things you dreamed about finally become a reality? What do you do then?
These were the questions that took over my mind in 2022.
With buildspace — I got my wish.
I got a company that’s semi successful, found a team driven to create greatness alongside me, and a product with thousands of super fans — its been amazing. At least a few times a week, someone will recognize me in public and tell me how we helped them get out of a dark place and changed their life.
To me, it truly feels like I got my wish.
We built something that literally changed lives at a non-trivial scale.
Sure I wasn’t at Mark Zuckerberg levels of scale or Elon Musk levels of wealth, but, I was happy w/ the achievement.
All those nights as a teenager grinding on new projects, all those weeks in college spending late nights coding — it all led to this.
Was I supposed to…keep “changing the world”? Did I even give a shit about changing the world? If we got 100,000 users does that mean we’d need to get 1,000,000? If we got $1M in revenue, did we’d need to get $10M? If we raised at $100M, does that mean we’d need to one day reach $1B?
If I already did what I wanted to do, why would I keep going?
This is what I was asking myself in most of 2022.
When I realized I already got my wish, I kinda shut down. What was the point of me continuing to build if I already built the thing I was dreaming of?
I lost my reasons for moving forward. My motivations disappeared.
I didn’t care to innovate again — because to me, I already did.
Each day, I’d get to work, open my laptop, and proceed to hate everything I was working on. What was the point? If I already did countless cool things for 15+ years, why the fuck am I trying to do it again?
All I’ve known my entire life is building. But here I was now, feeling like I was being crushed every single day by my own expectations and it felt pointless for me to keep moving forward.
I got my wish. And once I got it, I was confused.
It’s an extremely difficult situation to be in — when your motivation essentially disappears overnight after 15-years.
It’s a crazy feeling.
I don’t care about money or achievements. Never have, never will. Everything that motivates me is internal. But somehow…my internal motivations and philosophies were out out of touch with what I truly wanted….
At first I thought the company or what I was working on was the problem.
But — that wasn’t it.
I loved working on buildspace. Even if I shut the company down or started something new, I would just end up building the same thing again. And then I would just run into the same problem again.
I just felt really alone…
The big shift for me when I heard a song by Porter Robinson.
For backstory — Porter Robinson made a masterpiece of an album in 2014 called “Worlds”. He topped the charts and everyone in EDM considered him a genius. He created something beautiful that the world loved, but afterwords didn’t know what to do.
He already achieved more than he dreamed.
After 6-years of going ghost, he released a song in 2020 called “Get Your Wish”.
One lyric stood out:
But if glory makes you happy
Why are you so broken up?
I couldn’t get the lyric out of my head.
This guy had probably been grinding since he was a little kid, constantly iterating on his craft and music only to finally achieve what he wanted decades later and get the “glory”. Yet, here he was — “broken up” on the side.
Even if he did new music — what was the point? Would it be better than what he already put out? Would it give him some new inspiration? Would it finally make him happy?
I felt similar.
Later in the song he says something that put it all together for me:
Don't say you lose just yet
Get up and move ahead
And not only for yourself
'Cause that's your role
The work that stirred your soul
You can make for someone else
I can’t quite explain it…
But after I heard this, everything clicked for me.
I remembered something core to me.
That the things that others created that moved me — movies that made me laugh, social software that helped me meet my friends, experiences that brought me joy — I could make those for someone else.
All of a sudden, I remembered why I started doing this shit as a kid and all the happiness I got from it.
I remembered all those nights with my friends making funny vlogs figuring our Adobe After Effects, all this days grinding through bugs on apps I was working on while learning how to code, all those weeks tinkering and then reaching that moment when something I created would make my heart light up.
Somewhere along the way I lost that child-like curiosity, and I thought that my job was to create things for the world that made the world happy when really — I was always just creating because the act of creating made me happy.
I remembered all the energy that the act of building has given me over the last 15-years, all the places around the world it’s taken me, all the friends it’s let me meet, all the happy moments, all the sad moments.
And, I realized something…
Maybe it’s not about being satisfied.
Maybe it’s not about being reaching another goal.
Maybe it’s just about feeling alive during all of it.
And that’s why I’m going to keep building.
That’s why I’m going to continue making buildspace the coolest thing in the world and making it better and bigger every single day. Because, I get joy climbing these mountains.
Maybe the last 15-years building weren’t a waste…