When I began this blog, and my Instagram account, last year, it was with one main intention: to share the real journey of those taking the “path less travelled.” Some of you may remember that this was a time when both went under the name of “rêveurs”—an ode to TE Lawrence’s quote on dreamers that I so loved (so love, still). I wanted to talk to people about their creative processes and lift the veil on how they were really living their lives. Partially because I’ve always been fascinated by other peoples’ MO, particularly artists who go down in history having led very mysterious lives, with an unknown source of revenue floating them. (Which, by the by, for tons of them, so I’ve learned, was none other than family—Van Gogh’s brother, Virginia Woolf and Dickens’ parents, and friends—Gertrude Stein for Fitzgerald, Hemingway, etc.)
The other half of my reasoning behind rêveurs came from my desire to build an online community. I wanted my website to feel like a little home that you walked into, if virtually, where you could go in to one room and get to know poet A, and walk into another room and get to know illustrator B.
Over time, things changed. I rebranded, for a few reasons. One, I felt like I’d begun to stifle my own voice in the process of getting to know others. I felt like I kept learning all about these wonderful humans, and then gave myself zero space to communicate who I was amongst them all. And it became crystal clear that the community I was growing felt this, too. Particularly when I began to get comments like, “So, who’s the person behind this account?” Anyway, I’ve talked about this, and so I’m not going to focus on this point now.
What I do want to talk about, however, is the other thing that pushed me away from the word “rêveurs.” And that was, I began to become wary of this term “dreamers” that I’d always felt so connected to. And, no, not because I was worried of people making fun of me for being affiliated with this word that, understandably, can come off as a little Pollyanna. But rather because I was in the thick of the early stages of my own path, when it’s really hard, when you have ZERO clue what you’re doing, and, not that I didn’t continue to believe in myself, my dreams, but I was beginning to see that the general message that was sewn into this word, dreamers, of “follow your dreams!” was too...vapid, really. It didn’t have enough texture. It didn't encompass all the fine details. And in spite of what I kept telling myself, I couldn’t redefine a word that had so long ago been imprinted with connotations beyond my control. Do you see what I mean? While I loved some of the ideas embedded in it, there were also some negative ones that I didn’t feel like it was my job to get involved in fighting for the sake of my “label.”
I hope that makes sense. (Please know, I save all my smoother writing for my fiction, this is more an outpour from the heart.)
Moving on, I began to go by my own name, which meant nothing other than who I was, which to everyone online was a total blank canvas, because no one knew me. This was scarier, because now instead of telling others’ stories, I was telling my own. But it felt so right. And so I continued.
The thing is, though I never at all intended to only share the highlights of this path, that’s sort of, honestly, what happened. I mean, yes, I've always shared things like, “It’s been hard writing today,” when that is what I've genuinely felt, but what does that even mean? Does it even matter? It isn’t sharing much of the complexities of this path at all.
So, here’s the deal, in the past few days I’ve had a few conversations with friends in a similar place as me, and I’ve noticed that we all have this invisible shield up, however thin, and we're hesitating when it comes to telling each other what’s really going on beneath it. Like, we all say that we’re all busy, but we don't know exactly with what. When you decide to carve your own path, are opportunities just immediately knocking at your door? No. Are the funds just rolling in? No. But we don’t talk about these things because it feels like, at least in my experience, if you've got nothing going on, you ought to be ashamed because no one wants your work.
I’ll continue to speak only for myself. Freelance writing isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard as hell, even if you know/have interned for many editors. The pay is poor at the outset. What's more, it takes a massive flip in your brain to begin to value yourself and your time to ask for a wage that you’re really worth. And there’s a ton of hustle involved in just getting gigs—so much so that you’d think the hustle was another job in and of itself! What I've personally found is that I don't have a crazy stamina for hustling freelance writing gigs. Mostly because, I've realized, I don't love writing for media outlets. The reason behind that being because I find a lot of what I love about writing (the freedom of expression) gets lost. Writing has never been about the act of writing, for me. It’s about the act of communicating what my heart feels called to communicate. So, when I realized that I quietly ditched the dream of freelance writing, because it didn't feel true for me anymore. I found I loved blogging, speaking, etc. And why not leave that path to the true journalists that are so lit up by it?
It took me a while to let go of that, but when I did, I found other paths that genuinely do make my heart sing. One is Saturday Social TO. If you know zero of what I'm talking about here it is. So, last summer, my friend and now co-founder, Danielle Alexandra and I created an event series for creatives and entrepreneurs. It is basically founded on the same idea as my original blog (which by the by is still up and running): learning about the path of others and sharing it. The impetus for the event, for me, as I won’t speak for Danielle, was to make a bigger impact. I knew not a ton of people were reading my blog, and I didn’t blame them. There’s so much gorgeous content out there. But I still wanted to share similar messages of community, of passion, of believing in yourself, of wading through the darkness, etc. And so I figured, if I could make use of a different format and help more people, and bonus do it in real time to build real community, that would be amazing. And so, one thing led to another, Danielle and I chatted, and so was born Saturday Social TO. I really love it, every piece of it. And what’s more? I’ve learned though I’m a pretty crappy freelancer, I’m a pretty decent entrepreneur. I like building things from the ground up, hustling to find sponsors, a community, and all the nitty gritty in between. And on the flip side, I can’t stand bending my words and my messages to big companies just to get into their latest issue.
Okay, now on the topic of reality again. Obviously, balancing novel writing with what is essentially a start-up means I have next to no funds. My money comes from a few stable freelance gigs, but none of which are enough to cover my rent. This is part of why I housesit—housesitting means no rent. The other time? I stay at my parents’. I know, it’s not cool, but it’s true. Bless their souls for giving me this time.
That time, however, is not unlimited. Knowing this has led to my latest path I’m walking down: AirBnB. And, you guys, I LOVE this one. I’ve always known that if I wanted time to write, and now build SSTO, too, then what I needed was a source of income that came in without too much consumption of my time and headspace. In other words, it needed to be almost entirely passive. Now, the fates seem to have aligned, because the moment that I began having issues with my old tenants is when I was really feeling like I needed to be making more consistent money. It had been a year and a bit of being quite broke. Then this happened. The unit I’m renting out is the one I used to live in, when I lived my old life. It’s one I cannot currently afford, but is proving to be rather lucrative for me as a side-business.
Still, the money isn’t rolling in. And I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without help, which is embarrassing for someone who’s ego loves to tell her that she should be capable of doing everything on her own by now, because, god, doesn’t she know she’s almost 26?!
But anyway, you guys, as for why I wanted to share all this... the other night, I had a panic attack and I was lying in bed after it subsided, and I realized, “Sh-t, today, if someone happened to be looking at my IG stories, all they’d have seen was my perusing London. They’d have no idea that I’m insecure about money, insecure about my future, that I just had a freaking panic attack and thought I was truly going to die.” And I HATED that, because that’s the opposite of how everything began, with that intention of sharing the real journey.
So, here it is. Here’s where I’m at. I’m learning. I’m growing so much every day, but I’m still unstable. I’m still dependent. But that’s okay, or that’s what I’m trying to remind myself of anyway when I freak out and berate myself. I’m so deeply trying to learn the art of patience, of being kind to myself. This year, I’ve seen substantial shifts, which helps by reminding me I'm on my way. But still, it’s hard living in uncertainty when you’re swimming through highlight reels all day. Like I said, I’m so guilty of this myself. But you know what? I’m going to try to do this more. Because I think it’s important to be upfront now and again. It doesn’t mean I'm going to be necessarily vomiting up my innermost details, but it does mean I will do my best to show my seams. That is something I wholly believe in. As well as this: things really do take time, and the allowance of such time is crucial—to improve our crafts, give our dreams a shot, and, most importantly, for our mental health, to be well.
And with that, so much love,
PS. If this resonates with you, email me and let me know!