Frustration, Perfectionism, & Surrender – A Day In The Life Of A Teenage Entrepenuer #1

Hi, my name is Joshua Waters, and welcome to the first episode of my “Day In The Life Of A Teenage Entrepreneur Series”. I am currently 18 years old, and I run a successful YouTube channel of nearly 15,000 subscribers, I have two newly built websites that I am posting articles on, and I run a successful blacksmithing business on Etsy with over 100 sales and over 40, 5-star reviews. In this series, I will be taking you behind the scenes into what it looks like to be a fairly successful teenage entrepreneur, including the upsides and downsides of working for myself, my day to day struggles, triumphs and the many things I learn along the way. I really hope this reveals how tough it is to work for yourself, but also how amazing it is when your work is your passion. Enjoy!

What a good day this has been. It’s funny because it started out pretty crappy to be honest. I woke up feeling super down and overwhelmed. I’ve been working pretty hard creating videos and articles, and you know sometimes it gets hard when you aren’t getting views and nothing is converting or growing the way you want it to, it’s just discouraging. It feels like no one cares about what you are doing enough to watch or read the piece of content you spent so long on. I know part of that is just the world we live in. We live in a content-saturated time. There are millions and millions of quality videos and articles being posted all the time, it makes it hard to get seen, hard to get noticed in all of it. So it’s been a bit rough having to carry on, hoping things will pick up. I get a pretty decent monthly check from YouTube, so I don’t feel too bad about my newest video doing poorly, but it’s just frustrating posting new content to your 15,000 subscribers and having only a couple hundred of them watch it and only a few like it. I’m not sure why the heck that is, usually my videos are pretty well watched the first day. I’m not sure if the topic was uninteresting to people, if I’m posting at a bad time, or if for some reason they aren’t getting the notification for it. I have no idea which it is but it’s very frustrating. I really hope I can figure it out. And with my articles, I am getting nothing for them, and I probably won’t for a while, so that’s pretty hard too. So yeah, that’s what I woke up thinking about, as well as all of the work I needed to do for my blacksmithing business and the videos I needed to work on. Not the most motivational morning needless to say. I was frustrated, and a little overwhelmed, and I went through more than half of my day in a sour mood, feeling like life owed me more reward for my time. That’s a sorry state to be in ladies and gentlemen. Entitlement and self-loathing is a bad combination. Anywho, I started off the day by answering comments, responding to people about Etsy orders, doing research for some skate purchases I am planning on making soon, and by playing some video games. I procrastinated a lot as I usually do because for some reason it is really hard for me to get started and I was still in a sour mood as I went to the shop to get something “important done” as I called it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and am very passionate about it. I was just in a low place at the time, and a bit discouraged and overwhelmed. I felt like I needed to accomplish something, I needed to feel some success you know. Often I feel this need to create something of quality, I need to make something work well. I am a perfectionist, and sometimes I get into this place where I don’t feel “good enough”. And I try to define that feeling, and the best way I can explain it is just not living up to my own expectations of myself. Maybe it is because of my insecurity, or maybe it’s simply my crazy high standards, I’m not sure. But regardless I managed to forge a couple Marlin spikes for my Etsy shop that turned out pretty good. I tried some new designs and while they weren’t perfect, I was pleased with the result, and I definitely learned some things.

While I wish that was the end of the story I must be honest. I was battling my perfectionism the whole time and nitpicked the heck out of them. When they were done I felt a bit better, but I ended up re-doing parts of them because I wasn’t happy with them, and the thought that I could have done them better kept me feeling a bit down. This is why I want to find my worth and purpose in God, not in success because it’s fickle and sometimes things just don’t work out. I hold myself to such high standards and I set my sites on things that I cannot control. Things like I want to get X amount of things done today and if I don’t it wasn’t a good day. Or if I don’t manage my time this way, or if I don’t do better in these areas than it wasn’t a good day. But the problem is things happen. Finishes don’t work right, oil gets spilled, you run out of fuel, or a family thing comes up (all of these true stories mind you). I just can’t control that time. And if I try to, it just leads to frustration. Hopefully, you can learn from these mistakes, because I have a heck of a time changing this way of thinking, even when I know it’s there. So my advice to myself and to you, is to choose to think positively. Look at your successes, not your failures, and look at your failures as a learning experience, not as a waste of time. I promise you will be much happier for it.

Another way I could get past this need for perfection and accomplishment is simply by surrendering my need for success to God. He knows everything. And He has great plans for me. So if He’s OK with me trying to do meaningful work and getting shut down because of one thing or another, then I should be too. I need to surrender my need for perfection, I need to surrender to my inability to control all circumstances. That is not my job, and as the bible says I am incapable of changing one hair on my head white or black. So I must let that be up to God, but surrendering anything is such a struggle for me. I want to do it in my own power and I don’t want His help sometimes. He would give it to me if I asked but sometimes I am too stubborn to accept it. That was probably the biggest thing I got reminded of today. Now I just have to put it into practice which is the hard part.

So back to the story :). Once I finished forging the spikes for my shop, I re-finished and packaged up an order I needed to ship off the next day. At that point, I checked my list and reassessed. After I figured out what I needed to do, I got a bit of video editing done and set up a shot I needed to film. I was feeling better about everything after having gotten a few things done, making some decisions, thinking through some stuff, and planning stuff for the next day. I noticed it was getting late so I decided to leave filming until tomorrow and go skating while the last rays of the sun lasted. And I’m glad I did, because I had an amazing time. I skated a total of 8 miles, learned the first progression of a new slide that I had been wanting to learn, and just had a blast. Skating just allows me to let loose and exert my energy without having to think about things, or sometimes it allows me some quiet time to think through things. Either way, it’s usually a relaxing, cleansing experience and I feel like my troubles melt away with my sweat. Everyone needs an outlet that allows them this kind of freedom.  Sometimes we don’t let ourselves take the time for enjoyment and decompression, but it is critical to maintaining a healthy happy life.

In the end, I managed to break a new personal best time, got to listen to some good music and just felt a ton better about life. I have a good plan for tomorrow, am excited about my work again, and am feeling blessed to have had this day, good parts and bad.

Only regrets I had for today was second-guessing my decisions as usual, and not surrendering to God. All of that anxiety, bitterness and sourness could have gone away in a second if I had just released it to Him, but I chose to hold onto it instead and tried to fix it myself. This is a trend with me, and while I am not sure I can ever completely get rid of that tendency, I hope I will continue to get better at surrendering my problems to God, thinking positively, making decisions confidently and seeing how blessed I am and how much I have accomplished instead of seeing how far I have left to go.

I really hope you enjoyed this first “Day In The Life Of A Teenage Entrepreneur” series. This is a new thing for me, and I am not really sure what I am doing, I just really hope it helps someone and gives them something they needed to hear today. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section down below, and consider subscribing to my newsletter below if you enjoyed this article and want to see more. There is a ton more to come so stay tuned!

With all that said, take care, God bless, and have a great rest of your day.

Joshua Waters

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8 comments on “Frustration, Perfectionism, & Surrender – A Day In The Life Of A Teenage Entrepenuer #1

  1. You’re an awesome young man. You inspire me! Keep up the great work, and I can’t wait to hear what your next topic will be.

  2. I haven’t been a teenager in many years, but your musings touched my heart. I have some of those same worries many decades into adulthood. All I can say is, if you’re this concerned about letting go and letting God at 18, you’ve got a bright future. I can’t wait to hear more from you.

  3. I am a friend of the Waters family through my daughter and son-in-law in the Navy. I recently purchased a Mariner’s spike from Josh and it is a beautiful piece of elegance and strength. “Entitlement and self-loathing is a bad combination,” you said, Josh. Not only bad, it is a deadly recipe. It can send us running from the ever-loving, waiting arms of God straight into the downward spiral of our enemy’s destructive intentions. As a recovering perfectionist I remind myself often to pause, lift my eyes to God, and realign my perspective. God is so gracious as He nudges me out of my distorted priorities and back into His point of view. Prayer, Scripture, and worship music are all helpful to me in this process, as well as communion with other believers. Forge ahead, Josh (no pun intended!)! The Almighty God of the universe is with you and for you!

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