Begin Before You're Ready.

hey!  it's me!  Photo by the darling Dennissa Young

hey!  it's me!  Photo by the darling Dennissa Young

It's always a little crazy starting something new, isn't it?  To go from standing still to running hard after one thing.  It just doesn't happen like *finger snap* that.

One of the goals of the Kairos Tribe is to tell origin stories, and the reason for this is that sometimes hearing about someone else's experience starting something is the secret sauce to initiate that crucial momentum, or to keep us plodding on, gathering speed.  

Sometimes simply to have access to someone else's innermost thoughts as they walked through the same thing can teach us what counts as an action step.  Sometimes we just need a heavy dose of reality -- to realize how unromantic and anti-climactic some of these decisive moments can be.

That's a little bit of what we're trying to do here -- besides highlighting and celebrating people of action who have stepped out to do brave an amazing things in the community.  If you want to read more about us, visit our about and Q+A pages.

For now, I thought it would be fitting to share with you the inception of the Kairos Tribe.

Since it's just me, Mallory, here this is more or less my story -- and I can tell you right off that it is not a thriller...no perfectly-timed moments of shock and awe here.  It's probably more like a slowly unfolding independent film, that ends with a non-ending.  There's steady momentum with the occasional dead halt.  There are subtle shifts, as well as turbulent bumps in the road.  It would not make for a winning screenplay!  But hopefully, that makes it all the more real + relatable.

For years, I have felt compelled to write.  I first discovered that I loved to write in high school; I was in creative writing classes for three out of four years.  When I went to college, I thought about studying writing, but ultimately decided to pursue a degree in Social Work instead.  I now attribute this decision to the indefatigable enthusiasm I then possessed for "helping people", along with my fledgling sense of self-awareness.

I ended up transferring to a different university, and since Social Work was not an offered course of study, I chose to study English, which was perhaps less practical but more fitting.  After college, I was pretty sure I wanted to go into the wedding industry as a stylist, but it was a year to six months before that title really took, and I knew I wasn't enough of a trail blazer to pursue something so underdeveloped.

A friend of mine suggested I pursue calligraphy, because I'd always liked writing by hand.  I thought about it.  For six months.  And then finally, I had the impetus to begin -- I made some signs for a jewelry party my college roommate hosted, and that was the beginning.  Soon after, I was doing wedding invitations, signage, envelopes...the whole deal.

One of my first-ever instagram posts!

One of my first-ever instagram posts!

It was fun, and I enjoyed the work, but I think deep down I knew I didn't want to be a wedding vendor.  It was hard for me to charge enough to justify the amount of time and heart and energy I'd put into every project, plus I always wanted to make every client relationship SO much more personal than it needed to be.  Lol, not kidding.  I knew no one wanted to be BFFs with their wedding calligrapher, but, I tried anyway.  I thought maybe if I expended my offering I would make myself more marketable and maybe find something that would satisfy the craving for connection I was feeling.  While I enjoyed all of the projects I got to work on, and had so much support that I'm extremely grateful for, it still wasn't right.  Something was still missing.

The one thing I absolutely loved about the wedding vendor world was the other people in it.  I had found a space filled to the brim with incredibly brave, creative, and hard-working people who had started something and kept on going.  I've had time to observe my habits and behavior over the past three years, and this is what I've noticed: all I ever really wanted to do was hang out with these people.  I didn't know what to do with that, because when you're an entrepreneur, you don't really have the margin of time to just "hang out" with people.  So I kept moving forward, saying yes to everything, taking on way more than I wanted or could reasonably handle...I was just trying to see what would stick.

This summer, I was reaching a point of burnout -- I had been saying yes to everything for so long, fearful of missing out on the "right" opportunity, worried of what would happen if I stopped and stood still.  Worried about who I would be if I wasn't the sum of what I did, of my usefulness.  It was kind of a dark place.  I began to feel like I had to start saying no to everything.

So that's exactly what I did.  For about six weeks, all I did was sit still.  Right in the middle of this time, I was scheduled to volunteer at an annual conference for social entrepreneurs hosted by a non-profit launcher here in Atlanta.  It was certainly an incredible experience, and I’d say one of my key takeaways was that it reconnected me to my old love of social justice causes, and I was able to pair that with my desire to get to know interesting people, to celebrate work well-done, to write, and even to incorporate my hand-lettering.

I’m sure that the Kairos Tribe will evolve and change over time; I hope that it does.  But I hope that we never get away from the heart of it; which is to serve those who are serving others; to strike a chord within people who long to take action, and to do all of this together.

Mallory OvertonComment