Eleven days ago, I launched my very first Kickstarter project — UNTOLD/Chuyện Chưa Kể, a documentary about student social work in Vietnam. Four days left, $239 to raise, and I’m taking a moment to reflect.
Everyone told me about the marketing strategies for running a Kickstarter campaign and all the logistics, no one warned me about the emotional craziness that came with it. For those who have been with me since the very beginning, even way before the launch, you have seen how the ride has taken me from the highest peaks to the lowest valleys.
The moment I made a public announcement on the launch, a horrible wave of vulnerability hit me. I felt too exposed. I wished I could dig a hole right there, crawl myself in and never get back out. The next day, I went to my first therapy appointment.
After that was a desperate mental preparation plan, I decided to try out everything I could to brace myself for the tough ride in the next fourteen days.
- weekly therapy appointments
- committed to practice walking meditation under any circumstance (even if I have to irritate New York drivers at crosswalks). I shared about that experience in another blog.
- reading Brené Brown's book
- back to handwriting journal (one page per day)
- installed the Calm app
This is not a drama-queen case 🙅🏻, anyone who has run a crowdfunding campaign would be able to relate. The more personal the project is, the heavier toll it takes. The journey is a series of disappointment, constant relationship re-evaluations, extreme self-doubts, absolute hopelessness, and yes, a whole new habit was formed, repeatedly refreshing the Kickstarter page. Expectation is the root of all suffering. But when you are invested in something so dear to your heart, it's hard not to take anything personally. My mental and emotional state has never been this much fragile, even my physical health has to suffer as well. There were some mornings I couldn't get myself out of bed for hours (and you know how much I love my mornings) even though I barely did anything the day before. It’s the exhaustion built up for months plus this emotional roller coaster 🎢.
All the relationships I have cultivated so far in LIFE come down to this moment.
Everything gets amplified, the good, the bad and the magical. I reached out to ANY contact that I could think of, shamelessly asking for help and reminding them to do it (multiple times). I must have mastered the art of crushing my ego. Some responded, some didn’t, and some went an extra mile to help (which I’m forever in debt to). The worst answer was not NO, but YES then nothing happened. It took me a while to learn that my urgency was not theirs, and people sometimes forgot or procrastinated (or waited for their next paycheck). And in the midst of all of that, any unexpected help came in the most lovely form of surprise. The emotions fluctuated by the hours.
It’s the tremendous love, support and encouragement that get me through those days. It’s the realization that I’m never alone in this, have never been and will never be. Talking to my classmates who are also running their Kickstarter helps to confirm that I’m not the only insane and emotional one here. It’s also the pledges that came when I least expected. They are from those that I haven’t spoken to in years, those that I pass by every day only exchanging a hi or bye, and those I have never met. It’s not the value of the pledge but the expression, “Hey, I believe in the cause and YOU.”
Every time a new pledge notification popped up on my phone screen (Get the Kickstarter app so you don’t have to refresh the page every single second!), I made the happiest sound, put on the biggest smile and got teary simultaneously.
Tips: If you want the ultimate form of gratitude from someone, support their Kickstarter campaign in the first three days.
And all the help, SO much help! I’m so deeply touched that my heart can burst out at any moment. What have I done to deserve this 😭?
Everything makes sense toward the end. Up to this point, I can humbly say that my most (and probably only) significant achievement in life so far is quality relationships. “Ahhh, at least I have done one thing right.”, I patted myself on the back. So this extreme emotional roller coaster is actually a blessing in disguise 🤔.
- Thank you for never giving up on me, even when I had so much doubts in myself and lost all hope in humanity (and even after I “accidentally” took you down to many guilt trips in times of desperation).
- Thank you for being with me through the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs.
- Thank you for checking on me once in a while to make sure that I'm doing OK (mentally, emotionally and physically). I know that I have worried a bunch of you guys.
- Thank you for everything and anything.
No act of kindness or support, especially in times like this, goes unnoticed. I owe everyone tons, but it’s the kind of debt I’m happy to take on 💁🏻.
With my deepest gratitude 🙇🏻.
[written after 25+ hours of sleep]