Two weeks ago today, I headed to attend the opening party at XOXO, an experimental festival celebrating independently produced art and technology. I decided to make it an extended trip to Portland, OR, and from 9/14-9/24 I checked out the city, spent time with old and new friends, and filled my face with delicious, delicious food.
The number of attendees for XOXO was limited, curated by a simple application process to ensure everyone attending were makers-of-things themselves. This created an intimate, positive vibe, which allowed for better conversation and connections made, because you knew everyone there was passionate about making something, and as it turns out, have felt similar challenges.
It was fantastic, and painfully eye-opening.
Being an independent creator was the common thread that tied everyone together, and with it came stories of shared struggles.
Even a couple weeks later, I’m still reeling from the great talks, conversations, and experiences I had. Since then I’ve felt inspired, motivated, confused, scared, nervous, and excited all rolled into one.
While my brain struggled to figure out what I was feeling, I read this fantastic XOXO recap by Frank Chimero titled ‘The Inferno of Independence.’ At one point, he quotes Hugh MacLeod: “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness.”
Frank calls bullshit, because while there are lone wolves, there are also wolf packs. This idea helped me contextualize the loneliness of independence and realize the strength behind not trying to do it all alone. (Plus, I love the awesome individuals I consider part of my wolf pack.)
“Eat the donuts" was another phrase that rippled through XOXO from a talk by Maciej Ceglowski of Pinboard. Accept help from others and offer help when you can. I so desperately and impatiently want to be comfortably independent, but it takes hard work and time. There is no shame in accepting help. Beyond that, it’s far more empowering to be part of a supporting pack in independent togetherness.
"If you’re living your dream, you need all the help you can get. Dreams are hard, and much too much work for just one person alone."
XOXO opened my eyes wide. Now I push forward, looking at what my next steps are in this independent, freelance life, and what I truly want to accomplish.