lessons from The Awl:

I try to gently nudge him in another conversational direction by saying something mild and loving, like, “Please shut the fuck up right now.”

"Is this a good idea? What do you think? Can you help me? Do you want to publish this? What would you change?"

… you’re standing there saying, “Well? What should this be? What should I be? Who the fuck am I anyway? Do you even love me anymore?”

And sometimes, in order to take total, true creative responsibility, you have to shut people out for a while. You have to stop walking around like a giant fucking question mark. You have to stop looking for reassurance from half-interested friends, and you have to stop asking other people to help you shape your work from start to finish. Calm the fuck down and get back to work. Talking in circles is just a form of procrastination. Asking for guidance but not actually wanting guidance is a way of justifying inaction and self-pity. Letting it out is one thing; repeating yourself indefinitely is another.

"Shut up. Go finish your shit and then edit it again and again and again until it’s great. When you’re done, then we can talk some more."

Lately - due to not working and due, too, to observing how much more prestige and authority other people with less ability carry - it seems to me, now that I definitely want rewards during my lifetime, that given a good talent, its recognition and elevation to great are utterly dependent on expolitation and outside funny-business, the personal approach. If someone doesn’t do this for you, you must do it yourself. Walter Duranty at Carol Hill Brandt’s the other day described to me Bolitho’s attitude toward this - sweep into a room no matter your height. Above all, be a great genius to your friends… Since I have always been disparaging about my work to my friends, I read a lesson in this. Observing elsewhere, I see how certain friends make good by sheer social contact - a flair for knowing who’s who, for using these people without aggression. Success is a gift - like any knack for weaving something out of a few strings which to the rest of us are nothing but a few strings.
Dawn Powell, New York Diaries

I’m miserable and since I have fleeting feelings about this city and the work I’m narrowly tied to, I decided to fuck it all and go after a change of scenery. I don’t have rent to pay, the bills will always stack up, and the obligations will guilt me no matter where I go, but I might as well be surrounded with people who make me happy. and see a city I’ve never thought of seeing before.

I gotta get my happy back, remember?

Jerry Seinfeld: They say “life’s too short” I say it’s way too long. There’s something to that. Do you think that’s how life ends? Really just go “Enough. I had enough.” Tell me, aside from that, (having kids), what isn’t just completely brain-numbingly repetitive?

Colin Quinn: Everyone says Downtown Abbey's pretty good.

[this episode takes place in one of my favorite places on earth: Red Hook]

August forward.

thinking about my “future” - ew. because, when am I not, right?

currently would love the following:

  • inspirational mood board above my desk
  • financial fairy godmother
  • close mentor slash career coach
  • an offer to write a column based on my adult life/work experiences
  • spa day just for me
  • vacation at a beach resort
  • one way ticket to Spain

if this could happen by 2013, that’d be great.

so here’s the thing with freelancing.

I just had to make the tough decision of declining a full time job. I hadn’t even secured the position, but decided to pull myself out of the running when I realized it’s 5:30pm and I’ve missed the deadline on a test assignment. why? 

because of this.

I’ve been freelancing essentially since the day I got out of college four years ago. it started off as me working as a label assistant to multiple bands and record labels, while also being a full-time editor at a music publication. then it grew to running marketing and PR at three startups at once. to today: hosting events/classes/workshops, working on business strategy for an ever-growing list of interested startups, managing three different communities, setting up coffee talks/interviews/meetings, while I apartment hunt and TRY to find a permanent transition into salary work.

on days like today, I don’t feel jobless. but I am broke. I still have no apartment, neither do I have enough money to get one, lame.

how does this make sense? 

freelancing doesn’t pay (speaking from my experience). it certainly doesn’t support a long-term, sustainable career. client leads come and go, budgets disappear, contracts end, and the gig hunt remains.

I’m exhausted. I am tired of not getting paid what I believe I deserve - the value of my work, essentially my brain, my knowledge, my expertise, my resources, etc - never matches the checks I get. you can see my bank account for proof. 

don’t get me wrong, I get offers all the time for work. but the money attached is often very little, or short-term which means there’s a high turnover rate on my side, which affects the rest of my decisions, down to “can I afford to get lunch today?” kind of thing. I have lots of contacts who keep me on top of their mind for projects, and that’s fantastic. but with freelancing, there’s no guarantee that the proposal you just sent or the meeting you just had will turn into a full on paid gig, let alone a re-occuring gig to secure your finances for a while. I’m tired of so many failed promises and lack-there-of follow throughs that comes with freelancing. I can’t deal with anymore clients who say they value my time and expertise but can’t promise me more than a stipend. I don’t want to cut it close at the end of the month again because the work flow isn’t as heavy and I’ve missed out on big bucks. If I get one more email that says “hey let’s work together!” to which I respond “great, here’s my consultation form and fee!” and then hear crickets, I may flip a table. 

I’m too old for this shit.

I need stability, permanency, consistency. I want to be a 26-year old who has her own place, pays bills on time, and can afford to travel with her boyfriend without delaying loan payments, bleeding her credit card dry, or silent sobbing inside after splurging on an epic meal. all because clients don’t have money to pay me enough. it’s crap!

but the upside, OH THE ADVANTAGES of freelancing. waking up whenever I want, getting to explore the city when I’m running around meetings, working from coffee shops, meeting fun people, sometimes even wining and dining for free! the reason I got into freelancing and consulting was to build businesses, expand my brand, and show off what I can do. I’m the Ambassador of Awesomeness, afterall! I love the flexibility, the freedom, and praise you get from peers who respect your hustle. 

I just want to be paid for it. that’s all I ask! if you truly value my work, pay me. that’s what it comes down to.

so now, as I stare down the windows and to-do lists on my screen, and knowing I just walked away from a potential salary, I have to think to myself: what do I want? what will truly make me happy?

the conundrum has always been this: work 40hrs/week in an office where people tell me what to do and when to do it for a nice check (hopefully!) OR work 40hrs/week anywhere I want with clients who need guidance (to put it nicely) for enough money to buy me dinner this week.

the other sucky part about freelancing: you’re on your own. everything you do is for yourself, by yourself. yea, I should totally go build that site and sell whitepapers and get an intern and package my services - but who’s going to do it all for me? I certainly don’t have the time or energy or funds to do it! everything is on you, and when you don’t get paid enough to invest more in your business, things take a toll.

I should know. I just lost an apartment a month ago because I didn’t have enough money from clients to keep affording rent. to me, that was the last straw. to be left in a situation out of my hands because other people can’t get their act right, is unfair.

so do I quit freelancing, throw in the towel, drop everything, and go for an office job? or do I give myself ONE MORE SHOT to build a long-lasting business and make that money I deserve?

as Liz Lemon once said, “realizations are the worst!”

GOOD Real Talk

GOOD advice I’m keeping in mind:

Go live somewhere weird.

Take chances and don’t feel like a failure if you still are figuring it out one, two, three, four, five years after you graduate. You have time, I promise.

I knew enough to get far away from school, my hometown, and everyone I’d just hung out with for four years.

Eliminate your rich friends. The economics of actual living, especially in this economy, require you to manage your costs more aggressively than at earlier points in your life. This is harder if you keep your rich friends around. They are not like you. They can drink whenever they want and have no concerns for happy hour pricing. They can eat at restaurants all the time. And they will suggest you join them for these activities all the time because they aren’t real people. They are androids sent here from a just world where everyone has a chance to realize their dreams, and they shit bricks…made of gold. If you are the rich friend, activate your empathy subroutine, and pretend you’re not.

Careers are dead. Aim for a lifestyle and choose paid activities that support it.

You are alone, and it is as bad as it feels. It is senseless and useless and there’s no moral to the story. It’s just part of what happens. Something else will happen next.

ok let me just sit here and try to write this out to stop sounding like a crazy person who’s suddenly lost her mind and her life.

I’m not sure what to say here that I haven’t already said to a select few in person. but I feel the need to at least get things out there because having ALL THE FEELINGS sitting inside surely isn’t helping.

today was the first day I woke up in a the last week in which I didn’t feel like burying myself into bed. I woke up and just had to leave the house for the day to regain sanity. 

so the gist of this sudden emotional panic attack of sorts culminates after this past week, month, and year of 2012. 

I’m not just another young person to move to New York and have struggles and fail. at least, I don’t feel that way. especially because I’ve been working here since I was in college and saved everything I could to get here. so, I feel undeserving of the circumstances I’m suddenly thrown into. as I’ve repeated before, this city doesn’t care about you, so the fact that I’ve worked my ass off for myself by myself to make this lifestyle I’m pursuing sustainable, doesn’t make a difference to many people here. there is no sympathy in this city, I expect no sympathy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome it. 

I’ve always felt strong, assertive, independent, and a person who would do anything to make things happen for herself. but something hit me as soon as 2012 came that said, “I can’t do this anymore.” working contract gigs, dedicating myself to too many projects for little pay back, flocking from one job to another, and having no one at my side along the way became too much for me, and I started to unravel. 

at the same time I’ve been living in an apartment unhappily under situations I felt grossly unfair. I don’t need to get specific but knowing my lease was up May 1 prompted me to think it was time to leave. 

of course in all of this I’d been trying to figure out my finances. but living in New York means a depleted savings account. and living check to check was just not cutting it, no matter how much I tried to cut corners.

so I left to Portugal to flee for a hot second. which probably made matters worse, and really didn’t entirely satisfy me. I hadn’t felt at home in New York for a while, and then I couldn’t find peace over seas, so returning felt even worse to me. 

I decided to stop freelancing at the end of March, to then focus on long-term, salary jobs come summer/fall. I’d been searching for work that would truly make me happy, bring home a steady paycheck, be of value and worth, and really prove to not only myself but to others that I was someone to be reckoned with. 

with a gig that had turned into a “dream job” I decided to raise the stakes and propose a formal promotion and raise. 

in between I was staring down bills, a credit card bill climbing the charts, and bank accounts constantly in the negatives. on top of that, having a roommate flip flopping back and forth over whether to stay or not, live with me or not, and finding apartments that I could really afford. to do this all in 1 month’s time was impossible, I felt. but people kept reassuring me that I’d find something. cut to last Monday. and then this past Friday.

I woke up to a tax return of $81, when I had claimed nearly $5000 in business expenses. so there goes that. amongst that I really had $0 on me and people oweing me money left and right while bills were overdue and no apartment available in sight, and of course no money or supplies to even move.

then to go into a meeting where I was shot down for that raise/promotion and felt immediately worthless. that I had committed too much for too little and now realized what a huge mistake I’d been making all along in my career.

to then call my mom hysterically crying, and hear her response be that she always knew this freelancing and traveling thing would never work. that I was going to be right back at home because I have no budget and will have to borrow money from my parents forever. 

to then have to save face the rest of my work day til I felt too sick to carry on.

not to mention me having sent personal “HEY I NEED YOUR HELP” emails to close friends and get NO RESPONSE or support from said friends.

no leads were coming in for work. so I stopped trying.

cut to this past Friday where I spent the day running around seeing last minute apartments and having found a place for us I really loved and then find out that my roommate had already moved on and found a room on her own.

to know that right there I knew this would be the end was the last blow. I officially had no money, no job, and no where to go suddenly. and this out of my control to some degree was too much to handle. so that’s how my NYC experience ends, and it’s not fair.

to this second I have no idea if I’ll be waking up in Brooklyn or at home in my parents house. it’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience to have people who you thought believed in you, who valued you, who supported you be MIA and tell you otherwise. it’s still really a laughable shock to me that my life here has all crashed at the same time. but I feel power is out of my hands at this point. and I know there’s been close calls before, this the closest of calls, but it’s still a huge deal for me, and maybe yea I’ll be back in New York living and working as always, but it’s still a lot for me to deal with on my own. 

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this alone and that’s why I’ve been an emotional mess and have been writing nothing but Debbie Downer posts. I’ve woken up every day for several months now at a loss with this past month being the most out of control. 

do I have faith that things will work out? I really don’t know. some miracle could happen in these next 24hrs, or not and I’ll be home Upstate locking myself in my room until I feel better.

for now, being emotional is all I can be. logic and hope just isn’t on my mind right now. sympathy is. I feel like a failure because I know people who look up to me and now may see this and judge me. and I feel like damnit I’m 26 why is adult life still so confusing and difficult? 

so, that’s been my life update. you never know with me.

There’s no shame in that, but please don’t let up. Your energy and vision are right on track, and you’re going to continue to hone your products and make it big. This isn’t boilerplate encouragement, either. I was still writing grants to supplement my travel writing & editing career at 35! Independent media isn’t easy. But believe me when I tell you that you’ve got what it takes.
probably one of the most touching and supportive messages I’ve received this week from one of the coolest people I’ve only met once but who manages to care more about me than some people I’ve known for years.