"In July 2014, I made a decision that changed my life: to start a blog."
Near the end of May, the boyfriend and I were at our favorite sushi restaurant enjoying happy hour after a stressful workday. With the alcohol in my system, it wasn’t long before I started ranting and raving about all the things I wish I could be doing with my life and how my going-nowhere job was biggest obstacle in my path. I’m sure most people feel this way about their jobs, too, and for the past few years I have become increasingly vocal about it.
“It’s the same story every day,” I argued. “I come home tired and defeated, and I’m left with just enough motivation to sit and watch TV for a few hours before going to bed.” I felt – no, I knew – that I could accomplish so much more by taking my destiny in my own hands, making a living off skills that I’ve kept tucked away for 15+ years but never had the chance to capitalize on.
My guy had heard this spiel countless times before, of course, and patiently listened to me as I swore up and down that all I needed to make this master plan happen was time. Time that was currently tied up in my “safe” office job that didn’t seem to appreciate the work I do or the work I could do if they ever threw some opportunity my way.
It was when I paused to take another sip of sake that my boyfriend turned to me, watched me for a few beats, and then said, “Okay. You can quit your job.”
Once I got over my initial shock (and promised him that I would ask again once he was completely sober) my first gut reaction was… fear. Thoughts and big talk are one thing, but actually making it happen? Could I make it happen? I’ll be the first to admit that I have never been known for my ambition or go-getter attitude, but I also haven’t really wanted any of the goals that were laid out in my path.
The last time I truly felt motivated and driven was when I was 16 and 17, sitting in my room at my parent’s house and tirelessly slaving away the personal website & blog I kept. This was long before Twitter and Facebook and all the easy-publish options that exist today, and I spent almost every moment of my free time either experimenting with HTML and CSS or seeing what new creation I could come up with in Paint Shop Pro. Oh, and the writing. Hours upon hours of writing. And I did it all for free, long before the idea of monetizing a site was in the realm of possibility. I did it because I loved it. Because it made me feel alive and gave me purpose, as silly and small as it was.
When I imagine what my career would be like “on my own,” that is what I’m longing for – an endless amount of passion and motivation, always looking for the next challenge around the bend. I’ve felt that way before. I know I can feel that way again.
And so, with that goal in mind, I mustered up the courage to put in my notice at work. My last day in the office was July 18th, 2014. A happy hour was arranged for me at a local sports bar to celebrate my 6 and a 1/2 years at a company that, despite my feelings of the job itself, I had grown to consider my extended family. Out of 100 employees, 5 (amazing) people showed up to wish me goodbye and good luck. I’ve decided that going forward, I will keep that as a memory that regardless of what happens now, leaving that job was the best possible move for me.
But that leaves the big question – what happens next? After taking a few mental health days and mulling over all of my options, I decided on the first project I would devote my energy to: getting back to my “roots” with blogging and maintaining a website. I had promised the boyfriend that if he allowed me to do this crazy quit-my-job-thing that I would learn to cook and make good on all those home-improvement projects I talk about, so I figured, why not document it on the blog? I think it should be a lot of fun and help hold me to my promises. It’s all thanks to him, after all, that I was able to do this in the first place.
I took the whole month of August to get everything together. I designed & set up the website myself, although I did go the “cheap” route (not money-wise, but talent-wise) and used an editor to build the website. I was a little too rusty with coding to jump that far in right now, but truth be told I actually enjoyed using Headway Themes and still got to do a lot of the CSS coding myself. I’ve also been stumbling my way through all the “new” elements that come with running a webpage post-2000, like working in social media connections and search engine optimization… and adding advertisements. The 16 year old in me still feels like a total sell out about the ads, but hey, that’s just the dirty landscape of the web today. I need to make a living somehow. And finally, I’ve queue’d up a bunch of posts that will be coming out over the month of September so I can focus entirely on promotion and community building.
I still have plenty of things I want to do and try, including freelance graphic design and selling homemade goods on Etsy, but for now I’m taking it one step at a time. Lets hope that slow and steady really does win the race. Ultimately I’ll stick with whatever ends up working – as long as I’m free to be creative then I’ll be happy. It would be my teenage dream come true if this website really took off. It’s only just begun and it’s already been a labor of love.
I’m trying not to get too excited, but it’s hard. Who knows where I’ll be in six months? Or what I might have accomplished in a year? Maybe one day I’ll be successful enough to return the favor to my guy and allow him to break free of the corporate world and do something he loves. That would be the ultimate reward.
So, fingers crossed, because I guess it’s as they say – it’s all or nothing now.