The New Year brings on a plethora of eye-rolling goal setting and resolutions. Ones that typically bring us disappointment by mid-January, so we inevitably toss our hands in the air and give up. We all do this, don’t feel bad. You. Me.
Me. Remember how I lived in Florida for 6 years and swore I’d finally speak fluent Spanish? Muy malo, Carolina.
Perhaps it’s because so often thinking about what could be is so much more gosh darn exciting than examining what the frick just happened in the last year. Because, hey, that’s why I pay a therapist, am I right?
There is a fine balance. Too much examination about things you can’t change can lead to depression. Too much examination about things that haven’t happened can lead to anxiety.
Both of which are super fun to dabble into sometime, guys. I highly recommend it if you want to play the game of, “How can I worry about things I can’t change and also somehow do tomorrow’s dishes?”
If there’s anything I’ve learned in this rough and tumble year, it’s that we’re destined to repeat it if we don’t figure out how we got here. And heck, if you want to repeat 2018, good on you! But I’m all about ringing in the New Year with lessons learned, holding a blow horn welcoming in new adventures.
I peaced out to Corporate America and started my own business.
In February, I left my job as Senior Copywriter at a small ad agency and said hello to running my own copywriting business. It was the best and most terrifying professional decision I’ve made to date. What a roller coaster ride of pushing through constant self-doubt and I’m still learning.
If I could go back, I would tell myself that everything is going to be okay. To give myself a break and understand that building a business is just that, building. I wasn’t going to have regular clients right out the gate regardless of my 15+ years of experience. That needed to be built. Still does.
The reality is I applied to and/or contacted hundreds–yes, hundreds– of jobs and connections in the last 9 months. I constantly had to put my vulnerable self out there and say, “Hey, this is what I can do” or “Hey, this is how I can help.” I had maybe a dozen–yes, a dozen–even respond. It can be a bitch of a soul crushing time. You sure you don’t want to start your own business?
I think the biggest surprise for me is feeling gratitude from my clients. When you’re in the agency world, it’s what can you create and how fast. Very often you don’t hear from clients or you only hear the negative. It was surprising to hear how each of my clients not only like, but love my work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to the hubster, “Hey, I think I’m good at this.” He sort of cocks his head like pugs do when they’re confused, “Well, yeah. Duh.”
What I learned is the wonderful clients I have today came through a business connection, a friend or because they know me personally. I have such a sparkling personality, that people remember me, you guys. <adjusts halo> I’ve been nurturing those relationships. Those are the ones that matter, not the colleague from a decade ago who heard about a job posting.
I also know my worth. I’ve been sucker punched (via email) with arrogant, douche-nozzles who break down my rates to cost per word (which is an industry standard) and tell me I’m crazy for charging more than the industry average. Yes, because I’m Not Your Average Gal! I’ve done my fair share of paying my dues and working through UpWork for $50 jobs that take me days to complete. Those are not the clients I want.
That said, we could absolutely not do this without having saved prior to me leaving my cushy corporate job or the hubster moonlighting grabbing extra shifts. It has without a doubt put a financial and emotional strain on us. One that is improving month to month–just had my best month yet!–but should be used as a fair warning for anyone who wants to jump into this. It’s a bitter pill to swallow not earning as much as I used to and knowing it takes a toll on us.
My goals are to outpace my previous income and I’m on track to do it. I need to focus my energy on what fills my creative bucket and pays the bills. Sometimes it can’t be both, but it will be. It will.
I flew over 30,000 miles this year and my soul told me it was too little.
In February and March we went to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was incredible. I will never, ever get sick of hitching a ride on a flying metal tube and landing in an unfamiliar place. I need to be pushed out of my comfort zone.
Not more than a few months later, we made the decision for me to move back to Michigan and any future travel plans, not that any were concrete, were derailed with moving costs and logistics. Not to mention I fell, crushed two fingers and needed surgery. Just add it to the tab – says life when you’re starting a new business.
Before last month, it had been 4 months since I had flown anywhere. It sucked. I realize how crazy that sounds to people, but handbags, expensive shoes and fancy cars may fill your soul, traveling fills mine. Save ya’ judgement for something more substantial.
Putting together travels plans, even penciled-in ones, in the new year will give me the giggles and goals to work towards.
Psst. Next up is Portland, OR, Seattle, WA and Japan!
I firmly embraced the way people treat me says more about them and it’s been transformative.
Over the years, I’ve found empathy gets me into trouble. I try to understand why a family member or friend may cut me out or treat me vastly differently than others. The conclusion was, as always, it must be me.
With the advent of therapy–that glorious thing–and years of working on confidence, I can confidently say (see what I did there?), it’s not about me. It’s about them and their values. If they’re not putting as much time and effort into a family relationship as I am, that says more about their values. If a decades-long friendship was just a seasonal one to them, that’s their deal. If they only call or check-in is when something is needed, that’s on them. Know that and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Knowing that I’m unwilling to prioritize relationships where I’m only a convenient option or go out of my way to show up when my presence is met with indifference, means I can finally, gladly adjust my expectations. Does it mean flipping the bird in their presence and sending them bags of dog poop? No, it just means meeting people where they are; to stop loving people who aren’t ready to love me. How relieving!
They aren’t bad people, not even close. They just aren’t my people.
The holidays are always a shit reminder of this, right? If you’re doing something out of fear, obligation or guilt, ask yourself why–even if it’s family. “We no longer have to subscribe to these unhealthy tribes of convenience because we can now build families by choice. Please remember as long as you are bringing celebration and joy into your life, you’re doing it right.” – a brilliant copywriter I know
I’m confident I’m a good enough friend, family member, wife and contributing member to society that if something was wrong, I will kindly be told and if not, I can kindly carry on and readjust my sails for meaningful relationships. I’m so grateful for those meaningful relationships.
I moved 1400 miles and had to relearn how to live with the hubster again.
Neither of us were prepared for the adjustment of living together after being 1400 miles apart for 2 years. I wasn’t prepared to see how grueling residency is and the ramifications of that on the hubster.
It was brutal. Still can be.
Add in the complete weather change for me, an entire third year of residency on night shifts and I was looking for the next flight back to Fort Lauderdale.
But, we needed to be back in the trenches together. That would have been the easy decision, to turn back around, throw deuces to Detroit and head back to sunshine. It’s easy to ignore and put your head in the sand at what had (and hadn’t) unraveled in the last 2 years of our long-distance relationship.
I always joked that medical school, mental health and marriage were a difficult thing to manage…and you can only pick two. But, it’s brutally accurate. Now change that up to residency and starting a business?! Bring on the stiff drinks, friends.
I only say this because so often we only see and hear about the good things, even from our close friends. How many times do you see Facebook posts declaring how wonderful life and love are, only to see cryptic posts about a divorce or break up seemingly soon after? Smoke and mirrors is infuriating and social media surely perpetuates it. (I’m learning to peel myself out of that world.)
Marriage is tough. You’ve got a mirror on your worst qualities, while simultaneously seething over empty toilet paper rolls. Add in what the two of us have been handed, thrown and chosen willingly to go through over the last decade and I’m surprised I haven’t pushed him out the window. (Hey, Michelle Obama said this on her book tour, so I’m not the only one who thinks it. You do too!)
But, we’re making it work. That whole, for better or worse part, am I right? Plus, I’m reminded after a good night of sleep or day off, what a compassionate, kind guy I’ve got; the one who I fell in love with. From what I hear we are absolutely in the worst part of residency, so I’m holding tight and reminding myself (in the fetal position), “Only a year and a half left. Only a year and a half left.”
I’ve learned I’m far more capable of change, acceptance and forgiveness than I give myself credit for and–AND–constantly working on oneself, no matter how ugly it gets, isn’t selfish, it’s the key to deeper growth and fulfillment.
Our next move may be a big one, one in which we’re exploring currently.
Sometimes I just wish I had that gene, that specific slice of DNA, that mindset that never seems to question circumstances. The people who just accept the first job offer. The family that just settles down where they grew up. The person who buys the airline ticket without examining every single date, time and moon phase option before hitting purchase. It seems–and I know seems is the key word here–that others don’t examine the other options before just rolling with what life throws at them. That short-term gratification without thinking how that may affect the next five, 10 years.
I want that!
Every decision we’ve made in the last decade has been somewhat calculated for his medical career. That instant gratification of a new car and nice, large house, we’ve had to put off while calculating the next step.
Now we’re nearly there and find ourselves saying, “What next? Where to?”
What a pleasant surprise! A welcomed change that I’m happy to explore next.
So, here’s to 2019. Bring it on, my sweet, lovable and totally don’t-mess-with-me-or-I-will-cut-you, readers! I hope you have a wonderful, introspective New Year filled with belly laughs and growth.