April 01, 2015

Putting Yourself Out There

The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling - Fabienne Frederickson

Since starting this blog, I've had several emails from women asking for my advice on, or just wanting to talk about, the pill, natural fertility awareness, depression, what to do when their period hasn't come back... all sorts of subjects. I always feel seriously honoured that anybody would consider asking me for advice. I definitely don't have it all figured out.

As it's quite time consuming to reply to these emails on top of everything else I have going on, I figured it would be a good idea to use any that I think would be useful for my readers (with permission from the sender!) to create a Q & A type feature. That way, I can answer and create original content for the blog at the same time. 

Last week I received an email from Alice in California who said she hates her job and wants to be a writer (which is why I thought the accompanying image was totally apt!) I decided to get the ball rolling and ask her if I could share her email and reply to her publicly. She was all for it:
Hello Katie!

I love your blog (as well as your lovely instagram)!!! This might sound weird...but I feel like you are quite approachable and I had some questions regarding blogging. Well long story short...I live in Southern California and work as a receptionist and well...I hate it. I feel so stifled. I cry every day at the thought of going to work. I feel myself slowly descending into a life where I am just an empty shell mechanically going on until I die. I am 21 now and have this horrible feeling of not having a way out. That I will be stuck in this horribly draining job (or any customer service job for that matter) for the rest of my life. My whole life I have wanted to be a writer. I dunno if I am very good but I know how it makes me feel. Like 20 pounds (stones?) have been lifted off of me. I just don't know how to make it a career. Getting a book published in the U.S. is pretty slim to none if you are a nobody. I'm interested in having a blog but I don't know where to start. What to write about, how to gain interest in what I have to say, etc, etc (let the anxiety begin). I'm also interested in having a vintage clothing store on Etsy. I've tried twice only to have it end in major disaster. I'm a pretty shy person so I don't know how to put myself out there on social media. (Being riddled with crippling self doubt sure is fun!) I would love any kind of advice or any sort of direction.

Thanks for reading this!


Hi Alice,

Firstly, I just want to say that you're not alone in feeling that way. Loving your job is rare, not everybody is cut out to be part of the production line, you know? I worked for one of the Big Six UK energy suppliers for two years as a senior analyst and it was hell. Office environments are stifling and full of gossip, there's all these weird politics and I don't feel like you're allowed a personality in positions like yours. I eventually got signed off sick and had to quit, which led me to going back to university (which I also hate, go me!). For as long as I remember, I've battled with myself to figure out my niche and what it is I want to "do". I've had so many different jobs, starting in an independent skate shop where I worked pretty much until it went bankrupt. Then I flitted around retail jobs and landed at the energy company after doing some office temping (I figured office work paid better and wasn't as rough as retail). I've never been satisfied with working just to live and will give any idea I have a try, even if it doesn't work out. I  just can't live with regretful feelings. Please remember that it's okay for you to feel this way - it's a sign that you're destined for greater things. Don't settle. Money isn't everything.
It seems like you already know what you want to do, which I think is one of THE most difficult parts of the battle. This might sound harsh, but if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. It's something I tell myself constantly. It's a little extreme, but it pushes me forward. Confidence is something that comes with experience. Making the first step in putting yourself out there is scary, but once you do, things often start to flow and you figure out your direction.  
Regarding the blog, just go for it. I'm not sure what topic you'll be blogging about, but whatever it is, write honestly and let your personality show. People seem to like blogs that bring something new to the table. I didn't start this blog for an audience, I started it because writing my thoughts down is cathartic. I also wanted to share my experiences and, I suppose, educate other women. The discussions that have ensued are a bonus - I love interacting with people who share common interests and experiences. I was worried about starting it because it's quite personal and I didn't want to be judged. Some people also see me as competition for some reason, which held me back. Ultimately, thats not my problem. I just decided I didn't care what anybody thought and went for it. It's a refreshing way to live.
With the Etsy store, keep it small to begin with so you can manage it without feeling overwhelmed. I've always found Etsy easy to deal with and it's been a good way of generating some extra income. Make it look nice, list items honestly, make sure you're not making a loss, post items out to customers promptly and it will effectively run itself.

I'm sure the book market is extremely hard to get into. All you can do is try! I know there are smaller, independent publishing/small press houses around. I did a quick google and found this resource. Marketing yourself is hard, but it comes back to believing in yourself (or your product/service/art). You've got to look at it from an outsiders perspective. Think about the people you admire or look up to - how do they market themselves or share their work? I also think you need to ask yourself what you hope to gain from being a writer.

In regards to your job, I would do some maths to figure out how much you need each month to live on. Include your rent, food, travel, clothing, household and toiletries etc. Work out if you can feasibly leave the job, it's not worth staying there and being so unhappy. Get a low pressure, part-time job (or is an internship relevant to writing an option?) to meet those essential costs and the rest of the time, work on your blog, writing your book and look into setting up the Etsy store. Use your social media to share and promote what you're doing and get people interested. 
I hope this helps and I'm sorry I don't have a definitive answer. It made me super sad reading the way you feel, because I've been there. You're 21, it's no way to live your life and it's never worth trudging through just for a salary. You can achieve so much and live your dreams, don't think, or let anybody else tell you, otherwise. 

If anybody has any advice for Alice as a writer trying to get out there, leave a comment and I'll make sure she sees it. I'd also appreciate any feedback on doing this type of thing as a regular feature. Thanks xo

1 comment

  1. Hey Alice! My situation is very similar to yours. Im 22 years old, from San Diego but living in Philadelphia, and working as a receptionist and serving tables on the weekend for extra cash. It can be really hard to remember how young we are, and hard to remember not to compare our beginning to other people's middle. Most of my friends are closer to 30 and living a routine life (not that I want routine...) and buying homes and traveling the country with paid time off.... It is quite the challenge staying focused on our own dreams when social media has made it too easy to look into other people actually living theres. But take it as inspiration!
    You and I have such similar goals. I'm still finding my creative niche but working for myself is so important to me so full-time blogging and running an Etsy account are two things I would LOVE to do but i know its a long road with very few paths to look for help.
    Here's a full-time blogger from our neck of the woods (Southern CA) with tips on starting your own blog. She has helped me organize my thoughts and really makes me feel more confident starting my own blog. http://www.theskinnyconfidential.com/2013/05/09/blogging-tips/

    Katie- I love the path your blog has taken! I started following you on instagram about a year ago (because i fell in love with your tattoos and cactus garden! haha). Your posts have been so relatable, from getting off birth control to opening up about winter depression. Its been a treat getting to see a snippet of your life through your photos and now reading about your experiences on here...Thank you!


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