...and the beautiful, terrifying experience of liminal spaces.
I haven’t used social media in two and a half months. No Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit…nothin. Ok a little Reddit but then I deleted that too.1
I’m feeling the pull again. A couple weeks ago I typed the words “I’m back!” into a tweet box but never hit send.
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I know as soon as I hit send on that tweet, pandora’s box will open. Back to the life of constantly creating content, checking notifications, the drama, the competition, the news, and the hours and hours spent scrolling.
Being away from social media it’s hard not to notice just how much negativity it can bring into your life, and how nice it is to choose the energy around you, rather than having it dictated for you by the algorithm.
But there’s a lot that I’ve missed. The ideas never stopped flowing. I have a long note in my phone filled with tweets that I couldn’t post while I’ve been unplugged. I miss creating. I miss starting conversations. I miss being a part of it all.
It took a surprisingly short amount of time for me to feel removed once I logged off. Not forgotten, but no longer in the mix. The first couple weeks emails still rolled in as I wrapped up things with Bevy and CMX, and momentum continued to fill my inbox. But soon my email inbox was shockingly quiet. 15 years of working in the world of tech and community, and two weeks was all it took. Maybe everyone knew I was on sabbatical and gave me space. I think it’s more that if you aren’t constantly creating today, you fall out of peoples’ brain space quickly.
It felt great actually. Freeing.
It’s been four months since I stepped down from my role at Bevy and CMX, and started my sabbatical. I did some consulting for the first couple months until the next set of massive life changes began.
We strapped Lucca (our toddler) into the new Subaru we bought for our road trip and for the harsh winters at our future home, and took 34 days to drive from San Francisco to New York. We hit up lots of parks in the first half (Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches) and then saw lots of friends and family on the east side of the country. Once we arrived in NY we spent a few weeks staying with my family in Long Island while we searched for apartments in the bloodbath that is the NY rental market, and finally found ourselves a nice two bedroom in Westchester.
So much of my life is different than it was four months ago. I left the company I led for eight years and am now independent. I left San Francisco after living there for 10 years, leaving behind my close friends and a community I love. I’m living in the suburbs after living in the heart of big cities for the last 15 years.
Oh and we’re having a second baby, she’s due in January.
Lots of change. Lots of really big change.
Now that we have a home, I’ve found myself sitting around with time and space again and the reality of these changes have started to settle in. There’s nothing to distract me from the big questions that have been ruminating in the back of my mind throughout sabbatical. It’s all quickly rushing to the forefront.
I’ve found myself deep in my “liminal space”, as Steve Schlafman writes about in his delightful newsletter “Lightwaves”.
The biggest question I’ve been ruminating on has been, “What do I do next?”
Do I go back to working in community and doing the same thing I was doing before? Community is what I know, it’s what I’m really good at, but I’ve also been doing it for 15 years. I feel an urge to challenge myself to do something new, but there’s still so much to be done in the community industry, and it’s still something I’m deeply curious about. I can bring a new flavor to how I work in the community space. I can do it independently, which is something I haven’t been able to do in a long time. I can focus on writing and creating content, which is what I really love doing.
I know there’s going to be more out there for me, something that really grabs my attention. Something I can’t say no to. I just don’t know what that is yet. It might be in community, it might not (though community will always be a core pillar in whatever I do). It might not even be in the world of business. I don’t know. And if I’m being honest, I hate not knowing. It makes me feel insecure financially, socially, mentally… I want to just skip to the part where I know exactly what my goals are and what I’m focused on. But it’s going to take time.
For now, my plan is to just write.
I’ve always written throughout my career. It’s how I process things. It’s how I crystalize my understanding of complex topics. It’s how I explore. It’s how I start and participate in conversations. I love writing.
Writing is how I’ll bring motion into my life as I slowly return from sabbatical. Put one word in front of another. It’s how I’ll get my brain going and, hopefully, it will open up interesting conversations with all of you that may lead down paths I didn’t know existed.
This newsletter and a few consulting clients will be my primary professional focus for now. I’ll try to write here regularly. It’ll likely be a mix of community, startups, personal growth, and whatever other topics inspire me while I navigate this liminal space. I’m renaming the newsletter to David Spinks’ Newsletter to represent the broader focus.
A lot of you have subscribed to this newsletter for various reasons over the last couple years. I started it for the presale of my book. Somehow there are over 1,200 of you now. This new direction may not be all that interesting to you. If not, all good, feel free to unsubscribe, no hard feelings.
If you want to follow along my journey and learn some stuff along the way, I’m grateful to have you with me.
I still read newsletters while on sabbatical, which turned out to be a delightful way to go deeper with creators than what I got from them on social media.
I’ve been thinking about liminal spaces and community (of course). When people are in liminal spaces they often turn to community because they can be so terrifying and lonely. Having people around you is critical for navigating the unknown. Even if they don’t have the answers (they won’t), just having sounding boards, role models, or just shoulders to cry on, makes the whole experience less painful. If you find people who are navigating liminal spaces, that’s a really strong opportunity to build community. They need it.