This project isn’t just for people who are willing to share their stories but for those who aren’t ready to… I just want you to know that I’ll be here waiting, and ready when you are.”
-Keith, creator of The Pillow Talk Project
Few people know this, but nearly two years ago when I first started conducting interviews for The Pillow Talk Project, I quit after less than a month. And there was only one reason behind it: rejection.
It takes a lot of guts to decide to take on something you feel has the power to change the world. I’m sure some of the top change-makers and thought leaders that have created the world as we know it would agree. But what I think few people realize that the success of their endeavors is only the end product. No one knows the hundreds and thousands of hours that person had to toil just to get to a point where people would even begin to notice.
For me, I was overflowing with passion after I’d figured out the question that had started it all. I’d had many sleepless nights up to that point. I was so excited at the potential that I couldn’t even sleep. Instead, I would lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling or listening to the train behind my apartment, wondering where it would take me. I’d had enough drunken conversations with strangers and enough Sunday brunches and late-nights chats with friends to know that people found it interesting. I thought that was enough and proof that when I finally got started, people would be ready to join me.
Instead, I experienced the opposite. Suddenly, friends that were ready to sign up for interviews were nowhere to be found. My countless messages to acquaintances went unanswered. And despite spending hours toiling over creating several versions of carefully crafted pitches for email and Facebook, dozens upon dozens of people ignored me. And for those who didn’t ignore me, they simply replied with a “no.”
I realized that even the people who ignored my messages probably wanted to participate but just weren’t ready–I learned not to take it personally. I didn’t know how fearless a person had to be to willingly go there with a complete stranger.
Staring at the empty inbox for days and then weeks was so nerve-wracking that I began to doubt everything. So, I quit. And I didn’t just quit for a couple of days, it lasted for several months. There was even a point when a few people would reply to my messages over a month late saying they were interested and wanted to participate, but I never responded.
The dying embers never fully went out, but they never ignited enough to make me want to do the project again. But one day, since there were a few interviews that would trickle my way, I decided to do at least one of them just to see how badly it would turn out. That interview turned into three. And at the end of one of those interviews, a guy said that he was finally able to talk about things he’d kept hidden from even his family and partner for years. He said he finally felt peace and like he learned things about himself that he never dreamed of. Slowly but surely, every interviewee after him began to say the same thing.
I hadn’t realized it, but during those interviews men were bearing their souls, talking about everything from sexual, physical, and emotional trauma to their first loves to stagnant or loveless relationships. They were telling me about their fears and the questions that kept them up at night. They weren’t afraid to laugh, get angry, and even cry. In a matter of weeks, I went from being an aspiring creative and marketer to a professional listener with lightning-fast typing skills who somehow made people comfortable enough to tell me things they planned to take to their grave. In a few instances, partners even abruptly ended our phone calls, thinking I was an old flame or a new one.
Slowly, I shifted my perspective and, instead of focusing on the droves of people who never replied to my messages, gave my full energy to the people who did. That’s when I realized that even the people who ignored my messages probably wanted to participate but just weren’t ready–I learned not to take it personally. I didn’t know how fearless a person had to be to willingly go there with a complete stranger.
Now, 150+ hours of interviews and nearly two years later, I’ve learned that this project isn’t just for people who are willing to share their stories but for those who aren’t ready to. It’s for the people who feel their story isn’t special enough or that they haven’t accomplished enough. It took me a while, but now I’m thankful to the people who rejected me and made me want to quit because without them I wouldn’t have been able to treasure just how special something like this is.
If you’re reading this and you’ve been interviewed by me, I just want to say thank you. You kept me going and I wouldn’t have made it here were it not for you. And if you are one of the people ignored those messages, I want still want to say thank you. No matter your role, you’ve played a powerful role in changing my life for the better. And for those who weren’t quite ready, I just want you to know that I’ll be here waiting, and ready when you are.
I believe our stories are only as powerful as the strength it takes for us to tell them. So, if you’re ready to join this movement and share your story, schedule your interview today, or fill up the comment section below. When you’re ready to talk, I can promise the world will be ready to listen.