We depart from your usual blog posts for something a little outside the norm for this month’s Word Carnival. The theme was “love” and while I pondered trying to figure out how to tie love back into systems and productivity, I gave up on that and went the easy route instead. There are a lot of things I “love” about being an entrepreneur (trying to explain what I do on a date can be reallyfreakinghard y’all) but there are definitely more things that I genuinely love-love about what I do.
Here’s four of those things:
#4: I’m too fucking stubborn to do anything else.
This pretty much sums it up better than I could:
I’ll try to sum it up for me, though, anyways. Because this is my blog and I do what I want.
Let’s face it, guys: there’s not a lot of options for a 24 year old who wants to look however she wants (meaning: rainbow hair and tattoos) and doesn’t have a college education. So it’s a good thing that I’ve been dead-set on working for myself for a long time and that I’ve never given up on it.
I’m fairly certain that being incredibly stubborn, while a setback in the world of traditional employment (or at least, my experience with traditional employment), is the only thing that’s got me anywhere at all as far as my business aspirations. Clearly being smart, talented, and good looking (and, uh, modest) helps too, but I think the “screw you, I’m not quitting” attitude is the main contributor to all the progress I’ve made. Hence my “fail better” tattoo (one of the recent batch I got a few weeks ago – three in one sitting*). It’s nice that there’s at least one area of my life where being massively stubborn is an asset rather than a setback.
#3: Freedom and flexibility!
This is a total stereotype, but it’s true. Running my own business allows me a kind of freedom I definitely wouldn’t have otherwise – I can set my work hours based on what works for me (fun fact! the reason I rarely book morning meetings is that my neurotic brain starts waking me up around 6 AM convinced that I missed the meeting and my client is going to hate me with the fire of ten thousand suns), take off when I want to, and base when I work based on how much I get done instead of just logging hours.
I do think there’s a trade-off that’s rarely discussed in the “rah rah entrepreneurship” articles. Yeah, sometimes I have a four day work week, and I can take off for random things like “the weather is nice outside, let’s go play!” But sometimes, I work late, or on the weekend, or I finish my workday so mentally wrung-out I can’t do anything but eat and watch a New Girl marathon.
There’s a powerful sovereignty (for me) in doing what I do, but I also think it ties up a lot of my mental processes that would otherwise be free – I have friends who have “normal jobs” and I’m 99% sure they don’t spend near as much time thinking about their livelihood as I do. They get to “shut off” from their job in a way that I find nigh impossible to do. Sometimes I think that mental freedom must be nice, but in the long run, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
#2: I get to do something that matters to me. And I get to make the last call.
If you’ve read my about page, you’re probably aware that I’ve always been kind of an idealist. My principles have always been really important to me, and that’s one reason that working for myself matters so much to me – I know the behind the scenes working of my business. I know there’s no sweat shop labor involved anywhere, and I know that what I’m doing actually makes peoples’ lives better (because they tell me so and then I get sniffly and go hide to preserve my tough-gal image).
The associated benefit of that is that I get to make the last call. One of my last jobs before striking out into the big wide world of self-employment was working at a call center for an electronics store that shall not be named. There was this incident during the holidays where an older woman called in. She was honestly borderline hysterical – she was on a fixed income, and her and her husband had been saving for months to buy their son a new computer for Christmas, but then she went to buy it and it wasn’t on the site any more.
I spent probably close to an hour talking to her on the phone, getting the specs for the computer, finding out what her son was going to use it for, and then going through the site with her until we found something that was a good fit and in her price range. She was so grateful she was on the verge of tears, and after she placed her order she asked to speak to my supervisor – I’m assuming she gushed about me. (‘Cause, you know, I’m awesome.) I got to say bye to her, and then she hung up; the supervisor stayed around to say “I’m glad you made her happy, but that was probably too much time spent on one phone call for the purchase amount she made.” I don’t even remember what I said, but I clearly remember wanting to say “Screw you, what was I supposed to do?!”
It’s pretty awesome that I can do whatever I want and then say “Why? Because I’m the boss, that’s why!” Not needing to justify your actions to anyone = awesome.
#1: You guys.
MUSHY MOMENT! Yeah. You guys. Not just my clients and customers – though I love them too, of course – but everyone I’ve met through this wild and wacky journey. Colleagues, friends, mentors. So many of my closest friends, people who have kept me going when I was thisclose to saying “fuck it all” and wallowing in self-pity for days on end, I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t work for myself.
I don’t know how to describe what it feels like to have clients that you would genuinely love to grab a few drinks with, customers who email you unprompted to tell you how something you made has affected their life, colleagues that help you up and dust you off when you hit setbacks, mentors who say “if I have faith in anyone, it’s you”. Except to say that it feels incredible and amazing and makes you want to give everyone big sloppy kisses and I am sosososo(x a million) grateful.
Now I have to go get some tissues, dammit.
This month, we’re trying something a little different for Word Carnival. Instead of a topic, we’re going with a theme, and that theme is love. We hear it’s all you need. Check out all the other awesome Carnies to catch their creative takes on this month’s theme here.