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Dear Good Letters

Dear Good Letters,

One whole year. This was my goal, all along: to make it through one year of writing letters.

Well, actually, I had multiple goals. One month goals and three month goals and six month goals. For each milestone the primary goal was more or less the same: just make it there. There were other goals, too: launch a stationery line, redesign the website, build a portfolio, get better, be more creative, make something you’re proud of. Some things I’ve done a better job of checking off than others.

I’ve always had this fear of failing. When I was a kid, I fell and busted my face at a roller rink. I always imagine that failing, real and true and big failure, is like that: like slipping and hitting the ground face first and popping up and shouting “I’m fine! Please don’t tell my mom!” and then slowly coming to realize that I’m not fine, that this is a lot worse than I first imagined, that I’m going to have to tell my mom.

I don’t always think things through--I’ll paddle in thunderstorms or paddle out into the ocean after dolphins or paddle on a flooded river (I’m just now seeing there’s a theme) or climb a mountain in the dark--and, for the most part, things work out. But no one is lucky forever and I feel, deep in my bones, that one day my luck will run out and I’ll be 8 years old again at Skateworld with broken teeth and blood running down my face.

Every time I make something I care about, every time I take a risk and put myself out there, every time I try, every single time I write a letter or paint a card or draw a letter, I get this panicked, anxious feeling. What if I fail? Wouldn’t it be best if I just never tried anything ever again? No one would know the difference between a Madelyne with ambition and a Madelyne without. Maybe I just need a little more time to be certain. Maybe I need more time to just try a little harder.

The other day, I made a list of failures. Things I tried and fucked up. Goals I set and fell short of. Projects I had to give up on. Plans I had to change. It is not an insignificant list. I didn’t write a letter every week for a year. I didn’t launch a stationery line. Letters rarely make it out on Mondays. Good Letters is not what I thought it would be a year from now.

It's better and bigger and brighter and messier. It's given me purpose and direction and it's taught me what I want and don't want, how to plan for the future and how to figure out stuff as you go, how to change my mind and how to fail.

Happy birthday to my little toddler of a business. You are so much more than what I ever imagined, in spite of--or maybe because of--that list of failures. Here’s to another year of goods and letters and Good Letters.

All my love,

Madelyne Mienke Marie


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