I was debating about even writing this but isn’t this what a blog is for, to get your thoughts out? So, here it goes.
I was excited when I realized I wanted to open a mobile bookstore (bookmobile) in a camper. The traveling, the excitement from the kids and adults. Meeting new people, making new friends, going to schools, festivals, & conventions; connecting communities with literary products. My boho and dreamer heart were bursting with enthusiasm and optimism. I was ready to take on the world!
Then we got the camper, and as we unraveled the layers, it was clear that it would be a labor of love, time, and money. I wasn’t quite ready to take on the world after all. For every event, I dreaded the questions. I even made a sign with faqs. It didn’t work. Surprisingly, readers don’t read. “Are you a bookstore?” I would respond, “Yes, we are.” Then, the conversation would take its diminishing turn. “Where are you located?” Nervously, I would reply, “Well, we’re a mobile bookstore.” More times than not, I was met with excitement, but there were times when I was met with pity, belittling attitudes, and backhanded insults. I met other bookstore owners who had similar reactions. Sometimes, I would brush them off; sometimes, I would deny it was happening. Maybe I was just being insecure. Maybe I was projecting my thoughts onto others, or maybe, just maybe, this is how some people were reacting.
It bothered me more than I’d like to admit. Here I am, hauling crates in 100° heat, sweating for hours, and sometimes getting caught in the rain, and that’s not half of it. I’m working my tail off, and someone stomps over it. We all go through it, no matter what jobs we do. So, what can I learn from this? What can I say or do instead when people react this way?
- I can find comfort because I love what I do and fulfill my dreams, even when it’s 100°. It’s not that I don’t have a building or suite space for my store that bothers me because I don’t want that, not right now; maybe someday. It’s the feeling of being thought of as less than. My glorious, brilliant dream thought as less than. That’s just it, though; it isn’t their dream; it’s mine. They can’t see the beauty in something they don’t want. I will continue to speak positively over my dream, lift it to the light and hold it there.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt
- I can’t control what people say or think, but I can control how I react. Other people’s opinions of who I am and what I do, have nothing to do with me. Sounds like a personal problem.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Eleanor Roosevelt
- Lastly, as a sweet friend said to me. “We all have to get out of our heads now and then.” I have to get out of my way.
“Today is the day to move pass your past, move closer to your dreams, rise above your detractors, feel the fear and do it anyway, stoop below your ego, get out of your own way, and allow your life to amaze you.” Elissa Gabrielle
Recently, I met a lady named Valinda, at Black Ink Book Festival in Charleston. She gave me lots of resources, people to connect with, and, most importantly, encouragement & hope. She is a fellow bookstore owner. Turning Page Bookshop, the only African- American owned Brick & Motor store in South Carolina, yes, that’s right, the only Black-owned in the whole state! Valinda suggested a Facebook group that was specifically for non-traditional stores. I was amazed! There are hundreds of us! I’ve found my people! I found my Wanderers. What a feeling it is to belong. Valinda Miller, Owner of Turning Page Bookshop and myself at Behind the Ink.