Starting a blog or business is an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve outlined 5 important lessons I’ve learned along the way in hopes of helping you make sense of this rewarding, yet sometimes daunting career path.
The pressure in my chest feels as though I’ve just finished climbing a steep mountain amidst a dense fog. My throat constricts and I try to swallow normally but my brain isn’t responding fast enough to this request. I try again. An exaggerated swallow follows as if I’m trying to cure the hiccups, and I find some semblance of relief. I walk around my apartment to try to get my mind off it. Just move around, breathe.
Errrr, am I okay?!
For the last few months, I have worked tirelessly on this new business venture, a blog tailored to young women seeking advice on everyday life and travel. At first, the idea of starting a blog, working from home, spilling words onto a page, building a brand, and being self-employed seemed exhilarating.
From the outside looking in, working part time and starting a side-hustle seemed way less stressful than the 9-5pm I was used to, despite the latter word in that equation, hustle. I knew it would be a grind, but I felt prepared.
After a few months, and what turns out to be my first real panic attack described above, I realized that while I was the happiest I’d been in years, I was also putting an immense amount of pressure on myself and the success of this new business.
Pressure to get it right the first time. To be successful in a short amount of time. To figure it all out on my own. So much pressure that I failed to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the life I had built for myself.
Starting a blog or business can be quite solitary. It took some serious soul searching and a heavy duty brain rewire in order to truly begin gaining fulfillment from this new and rewarding career.
For those of you starting your journey through entrepreneurship, or those that are nodding along as you continue your side-hustle with a part or full-time job, I wanted to share some lessons I’ve pulled out of the chaos that have allowed me to push through the growing pains and seek clarity in a sometimes cloudy venture.
1) There will be good days and bad days
This can be true for life in general, but in the entrepreneur world, this is evergreen. Every business day brings a fresh and unique set of challenges, both exciting and slightly terrifying.
You will feel on top of the world some days. Untouchable. Flying high. Where’s the champagne? And there will be days when you sit on the floor of your office in your underwear, no one around to bounce ideas off of, feeling scared and alone muttering under your breath a meek “what the fuck am I doiiiinnnggggg” as you fall backwards and stare at the ceiling for two hours. These moments just seem to pop up like an arcade whak-a-mole.
I constantly feel like the Kanye West meme when he is caught laughing.
Advice: Pin point what triggers the bad days
My triggers show up in the form of imposter syndrome. That age ol’ comparison game creeps in as I scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and see the thousands of people vying for their own place on the interwebs. It’s usually those that are more established in their careers that bring me to think “I should have started sooner” and “it’s already been done, screw it, there’s no point”.
As cheesy as it sounds, I take solace in telling myself to just keep moving forward. Just keep going and things will fall into place. When in doubt, I remember the text my father sent me when I was having a brief meltdown, “there is only one you”.
Helpful quote: “Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20″ – I first heard this quote on the “Laptop Lifestyle” podcast, a great resource for creative dreams!
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2) Learning to be okay with uncertainty
Ahh, uncertainty. Raise your hand if you’ve ever
been personally victimized by Regina George shied away from something because you didn’t know how it would turn out? *raises both hands and feet*
As human beings, we are hardwired to feel secure, dating back to ancient times when being alert and avoiding danger was key in order to survive. To this day that mentality is engrained in our DNA and we continue to run from fear and the unknown. We like things wrapped up neatly with a pretty bow accompanied by a card with meticulous handwriting. Entrepreneurship? Starting a blog? The antagonist of this definition.
Advice: Newsflash, no one knows how life is going to turn out. Nothing is certain. When you start treating your whole life that way, your side hustle’s instability feels less daunting. NOT following your dreams is just as detrimental. Staying in the safety net? That’s the biggest risk of all. Embrace the uncertainty.
Helpful quote: Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting before becoming.- Victoria Erickson
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3) People have a lot of opinions. Filter out the bullshit.
I will be the first to admit, I do not handle criticism well. I go on the defence, try to explain myself, and sometimes walk away with a “you just don’t get it” attitude, even though that person may be right. It’s difficult, but I am learning to be more open to other peoples thoughts, even if it means going back to the drawing board and starting again.
That being said, it’s important to know what opinions to take to heart. It’s often the people’s opinions who don’t matter that seem to affect us the most. Before you let someone’s point of view hurt you, decide if it is either a) worth listening to or b) one to take with grain of salt/shot of vodka.
Advice: Find and trust your support system. Surround yourself with people whose opinions you value deeply. And stop giving a shit what janedoe284 says in the comment section.
Helpful quote: “If you are not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” – Brené Brown/Oprah Podcast.
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4) It’s okay to not be okay. This is growth.
You don’t need to have everything figured out right away. Be patient. Stop overthinking it. Keep trying new things. It can (and probably will be) a total shitshow. That’s okay.
Like many, I have been so wrapped up in worrying about the direction of my blog, finding the dreaded “niche” and feeling the need to abandon things if they don’t feel perfect right away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to acknowledge those scattered thoughts and move forward anyways, giving yourself the permission and the time to figure things out. The process of elimination is often the only way to find clarity. How are you supposed to know what sticks and what doesn’t if you don’t give it a good, honest try?
Advice: Mix things up! See each initiative through and let yourself learn from it in order to move to the next phase. This phase will be uncomfortable, but the growing pains are extremely valuable. Continue to put out great content or a good product, and the rest will take care of itself.
Helpful quote: “Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency” – Patti Smith
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5) Practice Self-Care
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to screw up. Newsflash, no one is perfect! We all know this, yet we hold ourselves up to an impossibly high standard. Most importantly, don’t let the grind distract you from taking care of yourself.
Advice: Take time for yourself outside of this crazy entrepreneurial world. Go to yoga. Lay in the sun and read a book. Meditate. Grab tea with a friend. Spend time with family. Go into a wormhole of inspirational youtube videos until you end up watching a cat play with string for 22 minutes. Do you.
Helpful Quote: Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. – Etty Hillesum
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And lastly, listen to your intuition. Let it guide you and you will find the clarity you’re looking for, it just might take a little longer than you’d like. Just keep swimming 😉
I hope this has helped you declutter your anxious mind and take solace in knowing that you are not alone on this crazy journey. You are paving your own way for yourself, and that can be scary and daunting and vulnerable and all of the uncomfortable feelings you want to avoid. You got this (something I’ve gotten in the habit of whispering to myself 23 times a day…) Starting a blog or business? I’d love to hear from you!
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