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Artwork by Bekah Worley

One of the things I read all the time in business or entrepreneurial publications (or even just Instagram inspirational quote land) is to leap forward without fear. To make a huge jump and just trust it will all work out. Looking backward? Never! That would be showing signs of regret or weakness or doubt. And for some reason mainstream books and publications seem to be averse to the idea of expressing vulnerability or looking closely at the complicated tangle of feelings that arise when you end one beautiful chapter in hopes of starting a new one.

But that’s not me. I’ve learned over the past few years that clean starts don’t exist. Blank slates are a myth. And looking forward without bringing some of the past with you is darn near impossible (and that’s okay!).

So today I want to get back to what I used to do a lot of here: talk honestly about how hard and scary creative and business (and just general!) life can be. I’ve gotten a lot of emails and DMs over the past 24 hours after we announced that this would be our last year blogging at Design*Sponge, and they boil down to this: “You must have something BIG up your sleeve — what is it??” or “So brave! You must feel so good and freeing to move forward and start over again!”

But I have neither of those things. I have nothing up my sleeve, no secret project waiting in the wings to announce and I definitely don’t feel that looking for a new chapter is easy or freeing right now. Does it feel right? Yes. But does it also feel terrifying? YESSSS.

I’ve been quietly following a lot of women who’ve closed their companies after over a decade in business and have been watching to see how they handle those feelings and negotiate them publicly. I’ve been incredibly inspired by our own Erin Austen Abbott who closed her beautiful shop, Amelia, and is doing more independent work now. I’ve also been following Little Paper Planes founder Kelly Lynn Jones as she closed her shop in California to become an art teacher. They’ve both spoken openly on their feeds about the mixed emotions that come with closing something that has a community around it and all the pressure and fear and worries that can come with that. But watching them experience joys (and hardships) and new feelings and experiences they didn’t expect has been so uplifting and hopeful.

I know a lot of you reading have been through moments like this, whether they’re professional or personal. And I’d love to know what your experiences were like. How did you handle that mix of feelings? Fears, doubts, regrets? Did you stuff them down or let them breathe out in the air and face them head-on? What new feelings and experiences and growth did you encounter that you maybe never even knew you could?

As we navigate this final year together and talk openly about things, I’d love to continue to create space for honesty and meaningful community dialogue around these bigger issues that don’t always get tackled online. Entrepreneurship isn’t always high-fiving and inspirational quotes, sometimes it’s scary and made up of a potent mix of fear and faith. How did you find your faith to move on to something new? xo, Grace

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