Did I make the right choice?
Honestly? I feel like I’ve made all the wrong choices lately.
It may look like I have it all together from the outside:
I’ve finished the trail
I’ve gotten into some schools to do workshops
I’ve been writing
I quit my job at Starbucks
I was given a new computer when mine died
But in reality… I’m freaking out:
My student loans aren’t being paid right now and my interest is only going to go up
My van, which theoretically should be my future home, needs some work that will cost money
I’m writing at least 15 pitches a day right now while simultaneously trying to write trail journals and a book while also producing a podcast all of which is unpaid work
I have very little income from random side gigs and I feel like I’ve made the wrong decision. I thought I would have more time to spend outside, a more flexible schedule, and be able to travel while still working. While that might turn out to be my reality eventually I’m currently struggling to float in what feels like a very large ocean during a storm.
I’m overwhelmed, depressed, and quickly reverting back to my pre-trail self.
Tired, grumpy, in pain, and unhappy. I don’t want it to be this way. I need to consciously work on changing that. Sometimes I feel like the best way to do that is to focus on myself and force myself to be alone. But I live with my boyfriend and my only other housing option is my parents. I’m alone while they’re at work a lot, but being alone in their house just feels uncomfortable: clocks ticking, cats playing, clutter, etc. So I spend most of my time at coffee shops getting $1 drip coffees or in my van (when it’s not at the shop being fixed). As much alone time as I’ve been having it never feels like its enough. It doesn’t help that it gets dark at 3pm.
I wrote a post last year called “‘Tis the Season” about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is the rabbit hole that leads me back to my depression. When there are less than 12 hours of daylight my body decides to shut down: I lose my appetite, I can’t sleep, my body gets tense, I lose a lot of motivation. Over time I begin to get this feeling in my chest I have dubbed “The Knot of the End” that feeling that I used to get when I had suicidal thoughts. The frog in my throat even though I don’t need to cry. The inability to unclench my fists. The feeling that doesn’t go away even when I deep breathe. The grinding teeth and tight jaw. The feeling of tension and the thought of wanting everything to be over.
I want to hustle to have my best life. I want to achieve more. I want to maintain the self that I discovered and worked so hard on during my journey on the AT.
I don’t even want to be wealthy, I just want to make enough to survive and pay my student loan. I just want to spend more time outside and writing, my two favorite things. But lately, I don’t even want to do those.
I feel helpless following my dreams. When I thought I was going to be a lawyer or politician it was stressful and at times difficult. But I always had a roadmap, much like white blazes. Someone had done it before someone could tell me what to do and how to do it. I could always call some connection I had and politely ask for a position on their campaign or in their office. There was usually a way. The work wasn’t too hard, just show up from 9-5 (or 9-9) and do office tasks or work with constituents/clients. I didn’t love the work and being inside all day sucked but there was a clear and concise path of what to do and how to do it.
The path of freelancing, podcasting, and blogging has been done before, sure. But the path isn’t so clear and concise. So many successful bloggers out there some kind of tutorial on how to be a freelancer and so many successful podcasters offer a ‘free course’ on how to get your podcast going. So many successful bloggers, photographers, digital nomads, freelance writers, etc. that live on the road will tell you that it’s possible! You can do it! Some even tell you they made over $100,000 their first year doing it. They make it look so neat and perfect and easy.
The truth is: there is no perfect way to be a freelancer, there is no set path to being a digital nomad, there is no one way to have a successful podcast or blog.
I’m learning new best practices, ideal ways to do things, every day. I’m writing bad pitches and learning how to make them better. I’m asking awful questions and making horrible podcast interviews. I’m finding my ‘niche’ in the paid writing world. I’m trying to be open and honest. I’m hustling and not getting as far as I thought I would in this amount of time.
And that’s okay. The fire under my ass needs to be lit, as Miles says. But I need to take responsibility for lighting it. I quit my job. I asked for help. This is the little reminder that it’s been exactly 3 weeks since my last day at Starbucks and that isn’t a lot of time, despite how it may feel. I got both of those things and now I have to do something with it. This is my accountability that I will no longer sleep in. I will stop making excuses. This is my reminder to stop being so hard on myself and just DO IT.
My plan for making success for myself is:
Get up before 7am every day (for maximum daylight).
Go for a walk + eat breakfast before anything else.
Write at least 5 pitches every day until I get enough gigs to feel like I might have too many.
Work on my blog every day: SEO, social media, posts, pictures, etc.
Build my podcast: find people to interview, schedule interviews, find sponsors and collaborations, etc.
Write, edit, or start at least one portfolio piece a day until I have a well rounded portfolio and keep adding paid pieces to it.
Talk to schools actively to plan at least two workshops for the Spring.
These are my commitments to myself for the next three months: December, January, and February. After that I’ll reassess and figure out what I need to do to keep moving forward. I won’t let this choice be the wrong one and I won’t let depression stop me.
Make a resolution with me (for your career, for your well-being, for your future), tell me one of yours in the comments: on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t let yourself settle. Hustle with me.
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