by Emily –
One of my biggest mistakes is working and planning so hard that I don’t see what is right in front of me. I’m always looking forward instead of actively moving forward. I put so many things off for “someday” or “when I have the time” instead of just taking the time I need. I’ve always been almost there.
Alex likes to make things happen. That’s why he is good for me. We balance each other out in that way. Since I’ve met him I have seen myself change slowly and now I want to start building a life that we can both enjoy now. We are in our late 30s after all. We definitely still feel young, but the practical chances of us being able to retire in a conventional way are long past. We have to strike out in a big way or at least live our lives now instead of counting on being able to do it later.
I’m tired of obsessing over planning for the future instead of living my life. The future is not guaranteed. I have to stop stressing myself out so much about the unknown.
We’ve all read the, “I quit my corporate job to become a freelance butterfly catcher” articles and thought, “wow, that’s great for them but it would never work for me. If they could show me how it ended up ok, maybe I could take that risk too”.
But, the thing is, we can’t know how it ends. And that can be said for every aspect of life. What makes the freelance butterfly catcher different from any of us? Only one thing – they DID it. They are human. We are human. (Thank you Selena’s fictionalized dad). We all have various strengths and talents that we can use to create the life we want.
And, oh yeah, I’VE ALREADY DONE THAT!!! I quit my job to become an ear maker. I bet that isn’t a job that your guidance counselor told you about. When I was in high school I was discouraged from following my dream of becoming a fashion designer because the idea of actually becoming one was too hard to guarantee. But, what did I become? A fashion accessory designer. I owned a small handmade shop called WeveGotEars where I designed and made magical hair accessories.
Although it wasn’t easy, it somehow felt that things came into place for me despite having chosen those less traditional routes. And that is because I’ve always been a dreamer and I worked hard to make those impossible things possible. But how long am I allowed to dream?
It took me 10 years to get through college. I resisted and changed my mind a lot about my area of study. In the end I still landed on something that was perceived as too difficult to make a career out of. I came out with an associates in business administration, a bachelors in art history, and a masters in art history. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. But the one thing I heard most when studying art history was “what are you going to do with that?” People didn’t believe it would lead to a “real” job. But I was lucky enough to get a job in my field at an art museum. It was around this time that I had started my shop.
After five years at the museum, I got a promotion with a title and an office, but it made me feel stifled. Especially compared to the creative business I had started building at home.
Once things started to take off with my craft, most of my time at work was spent thinking about “what ifs”. Yes, I had security (whatever that means), but I wanted freedom and creativity. So, I quit my job and became a full-time maker and it has supported me for four years.
I succeeded. So why is it so hard for me to allow myself to want more? I’ve always harbored so much guilt for getting exactly what I wanted and then still wanting more.
This year, I began to think I was just expecting too much. I just needed to keep my head down and keep doing what I am doing because that’s what is working. I let it go on too long before I realized it’s not actually working anymore. I use my hands 8-9 hours a day and they hurt. It is so hard to admit, but they are in pain most days. (I have an autoimmune allergy response that results in whole body inflammation).
I never thought that making things with my hands would be a means to an end. But, I started hitting roadblocks every time I tried to change or scale up my business. And that made me feel like a failure. I began to realize that there is no realistic way for me to be able to do more than I am already doing. I am already working at my maximum output. I know there are individuals out there that turned handmade into being officially licensed products, but that won’t work for me because that is not what I want.
A few months ago when Alex expressed interest in video editing, I told him I had always wanted to try YouTube but I felt like I could never do it alone. Of course I could have, but I also felt like I needed permission from some external source to tell me I was good enough to start.
I never felt like I needed anyone’s permission to start a handmade business, so why do I feel like I need it to try YouTube? Because, I genuinely thought I didn’t deserve any more successes in life, especially if I couldn’t make the success I already had work.
So, in short, I had already decided I was going to fail at YouTube and blogging before I had even started. I kept listening to that little voice inside my head that told me “it’s easier not to”. It’s easier not to try because then you can’t fail. It’s easier to keep doing the same thing because that’s what has been proven successful.
But, who tells anyone they can be fashion bloggers? Who gave them any permission? Nobody. Who told people they could quit their job and travel? They did! I keep worrying about what people want from me and expecting that they wouldn’t give me permission to do anything new.
I keep projecting my own insecurities onto my audience. I imagine people saying “she’s a small shop owner, why is she trying to be a YouTuber?” Or people saying “I wish she would just make more ears so I can buy what I want instead of showing us her outfit” Or “what makes her an expert on anything?”
Why are you guys so mean in my head? Oh, yeah, that’s me being mean, not you!
You are all way kinder than that. You have always allowed me the room to grow and I am now realizing that all those imagined reactions are my own insecurities.
I know there will be people who don’t accept these changes and that it may even hurt my feelings. But as long as I accept myself I am ok!
There is something to be said about the “live your best life now” mentality. But, it doesn’t just come to you. You have to give yourself permission to try it because nobody is going to approach you on the street one day and say, “Excuse me, you look like you deserve the best life. Follow me to your future”. You have to work hard and take risks all while giving yourself the space to make mistakes. It is not an easy mental space to land in.
Society has told me to manage my expectations because I can’t have it all. I have to stop listening to that. I don’t want it all. I just want to be happy and select my own career path even though it is an unconventional one. I don’t need any permission except my own!
How many chances do I get to succeed? As many as I want!
Wanting to pursue something new doesn’t mean I did everything else wrong. I will be responsibly dividing my time between what makes us money now and what makes us happy now. We do plan on our new endeavors paying off eventually. In the meantime, we are taking a risk to live our dreams together. We have to start living in a way that allows us to enjoy the present while still working hard for the future.
Thank you for visiting our website, and we hope you will join us on all of our journeys! We are ready to bring you to all the new places with us.
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