If the fact that I haven’t posted in 8 months gives you any indication about what I’m about to talk about it; it should - because y’all, the whole “being my own boss thing” has got me all sorts of out of whack with my daily life. There are quite a lot of people who have followed this journey of mine, and from the social media perspective, it might look like I have all the answers and that I’m “killing it.” And I am here today to tell you, that is SO not the case. I am floating in and out of each day, just trying to keep my head above water, and from my brain exploding from the 10392353 things it’s trying to do at once. 8 months ago I wrote about slowing down, and I feel like I need to re-read it and take my own advice!
I don’t really know what I expected when I resigned from my full time job as an educator and began to make the transition into full time boss and business owner, but I assure you it was NOT what my day to day is currently looking like. I went from almost 10 years of having a pretty strict schedule and frame of time I could do things in. From under grad, I went straight into grad school, and then straight into full time educator. There was always a lot of structure in my day, more than I think I even realized. I always needed to be somewhere by a certain time and my day was ruled by a clock and bells. So when I finally decided to quit, there were things I knew might be tough - like managing finances, being better about saving, insurance etc. - ya know, all the “adult” things, but then were other things I hadn’t even considered.
#1, Let’s talk about “balance.” What does that word really mean? Does anyone truly “balance” their day with healthy eating, exercise, family obligations, errands, cleaning, adulting tasks, personal hobbies, reading, instagramming, and work??? I mean, WE CAN’T DO IT ALL! And if you can, you’re a robot. I THOUGHT the balance of my day would be easier to manage given that I now have control over my schedule, but it’s actually become even harder now that I work from home and every distraction possible is at my beck and call. Oh, there are dishes in the sink? I’ll just clean those real quick. Oh, the laundry is still in the dryer? I’ll just fold and put those away really fast. Oh, the flowers are dying? I’ll just run to the store and replace them and while I’m at it go grocery shopping, put those away, prep food for dinner, mop the floors, clean out out the fridge and take out the trash. Then all of a sudden it’s 4 pm, and I’ve done NOTHING but answer a few emails and stress over my seemingly never ending to-do list. Can anyone relate? Before I know it, I’m not even starting on work until 5, staying up until 2, and then sleeping in the next day and starting the whole thing over again. So maybe the solution is that there ISN’T true balance and I should stop pushing that on myself, maybe it’s just about intertwining the things that need to be done with what I want to get done. And hey, maybe it’s okay that I’m working from 5 pm - 2 am, I mean, that is still a good chunk of work time, right? So why are there so many articles out there that claim being a “morning person” is the only way and the right way to be if you want to be “successful”? I call bullllllll shit. I’m breaking that status quo right now. I woke up early for 6 years, 5:30 am to be exact, and I hated every moment of it. I am simply not a morning person and it doesn’t mean I can’t be as successful as someone that is, it just means my body and brain don’t function as sharply, (or as kindly), at that unGodly hour, no matter how many cups of coffee I drink or early morning runs I try to go on.
#2, There’s the whole, being your own boss means you’re actually alone all day thing. I have no one to just simply be around while working which makes a girl feel pretty lonely. Sure I can call people to meet up with for coffee here and there, but they have to work too! And there is so much I can’t do from a coffee shop. I can’t carry all my paints and supplies and take over what is already a pretty small hub full of people also trying to have a mobile office. So while all those perfectly styled Instagram posts of beautifully patterned notebooks and high end planners with a brand new mac book and bright green matcha tea are envy-worthy - it’s not realistic for everyone to be able to do that everyday, I’m guessing it’s not realistic for MOST people if we’re being real, (which we are). Entrepreneur life should really be called “the hermit life,” because in order for it to work, at least in the beginning, that is kiiiind of what needs to happen. So yea, it’s lonely, and it’s made me truly miss the team of people I had to work with before who I could vent to and they’d keep me motivated or give me feedback in the middle of a project, or to just ask questions to, or bounce ideas off of and really, just ask for help with any given task. I am by myself, day in, and day out.
#3,There are no rules. Which may seem like a positive - and it is in MANY ways, but this has posed a problem for me because I realize that my motivation was tied partly to the potential to get in trouble if I did things you weren’t “supposed” to do. Like being on your phone. As a result of all that non-phone use the past however many years, my phone addiction has gotten worse. Also something I couldn’t do before? Watch TV at work. My Netflix bingeing is at an all time high, and ok this is partly because I just like hearing voices in the background while I work,(it makes me feel a liiiiittle less alone), but it’s a problem nonetheless. I want to like listening to podcasts, but unless they grip my attention from the get go, I spend more time searching for one I like than actually listening to them. And I LOVE music so much, that sometimes it tends to distract me, or just makes me want to do my own thing instead of buckle down with client work. I know, I know, what is my deal!? Not having rules has shown me weaknesses in myself that I never really knew I had, and now there is no external factor forcing me to change them. So creating rules for myself and sticking to them has become a challenge I didn’t see coming.
So real talk? This shit is just plain HARD a lot of the time. Really hard. I’ve had at least 3 crying, on the verge of a panic attack meltdowns just this week. I’ve called my mom, best friends and other entrepreneurs just to calm myself down. The rollercoaster of emotions that I have felt in the past few weeks is crazier than teenage hormones at a Friday night party. IT’S ROUGH OUT THERE GUYS! And I want to break down the walls to talking about it more because I know we all feel this struggle. Its been taking me a while to get into a flow, which has led to a lot of procrastination, and then a lot of soul searching on if I made the right choice. I’m having a hard time cutting myself any slack, and I’ve begun to feel really guilty every single time I try to take some time out for myself, or when I allow myself to partake in something social. I just want other creatives in the same boat as me to know they aren’t alone if they feel like this, and I also want people who think the entrepreneur life is glamorous, that it isn’t actually all that glamourous. Unless you count me in the same ripped jean shorts and paint splattered t-shirt for days in a row glamorous - then it sure is.
BUT, with all of that said, entrepreneurial life is still what I choose over anything. Success to me is having the freedom to choose what I do each day. And I CHOOSE to be a creative business owner. I choose to work from home and figure out all the hard stuff I just talked about, while creating new stuff and still working on the client stuff. I value that freedom over any steady paycheck, fancy corporate office job, or 6 figure salary. I especially value being able to choose which projects I take on and the ability to be as creative as I want in any capacity at any given time. Being successful to me means waking up each day and doing something you WANT to be doing, that you LOVE doing, there’s going to be challenges and struggles no matter what so I’d rather them be ones I choose to take on. I don’t think that staying miserable in a job is worth a steady paycheck, insurance or the ability to buy a house. Yes, those things are important at some point in our lives, but I don’t believe that you should have to be extraordinarily stressed, depressed or sleep deprived to do it. I’m terrified every single day that I don’t have those things, but then I remember that the future has opportunities for me that I can’t even dream up yet, and that unknown becomes exciting instead of scary. Being an entrepreneur right now means putting my head down and getting the nitty gritty of building a business down so that it can grow. No, I don’t know how to balance my finances yet, or how to create a budget I can stick to each month. I’ve tried and failed on how to track my inventory, and Quickbooks gave me a minor meltdown this morning when it read my transactions incorrectly. But the fact that I can choose, or not, to do those things and the only person it benefits is me, is insanely satisfying. The glamor of this job lies in the freedom of being able to do exactly what you love, which still means working REALLY hard. Not in the perceived notion that being your own boss means you can travel whenever and wherever, that you’re making loads of money, or that you have all this extra time to go to yoga, cook gourmet meals and meet up with friends for mimosa’s on a Monday. That’s a fantasy, created by social media. The truth is that entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and it’s certainly not easier than working for someone else, it’s just different. When I truly stop my brain from barreling through me like a freight train, and I look at what I’ve accomplished while working basically 2 full time jobs, and at times 3, over the past couple of years - I’m really proud of myself in ways I can’t put into words. And the RATIONAL part of my brain knows that I will be ok, and things will work out as long as I keep working at it and staying persistent.
As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I’ve wanted to do.” And I won’t either.
This may not have been the art tip or inspiration filled blog post you were hoping for, but I’m going to go ahead and give myself credit for even writing a blog post because it’s literally been on my to-do list for 8 MONTHS, (since the last one!). I hope that those of you reading can relate, to some or even all aspects of it and I’d love to hear your feedback on what you do to keep it moving each day so that you don’t fall apart!