Why I'm Never Working a 9-5 Job Again
How Vocal Has Changed Everything
I go through a cycle almost every year. I get a job that seems great, good potential for advancement, swell benefits, and whatever else people tell you to care about. I fit myself into the mold and abide by the rules. Yet eventually, I can't help but realize how much time I'm spending at work. Someone else dictates what I do with my day. I lose my night to exhaustion.
My brain starts to run wild with accusations of wasting my youth or sacrificing my mental health for a paycheck. Usually, bosses who know the perfect cocktail of humiliation and praise send me over the edge-and I quit. Quitting is satisfying. I convince myself I can make my own money, I've got grit, I see Youtubers do it all the time.
So it goes until options dry up and savings are spent- time to get another job.
In between, I always wrote, I've written for pennies for years. Until I won a Vocal Challenge. Six, to be exact. There is a ceiling between what you think you're capable of and what you are capable of. Winning each challenge pokes a hole in that ceiling. Little bits of light breakthrough, and I can see clearer and clearer what the future holds. Who am I to deny myself the chance to have everything I've ever wanted? Who am I not to pursue it with everything I have?
"Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination"
- Carl von Clausewitz
So how can I write for a living? You'd think the answer lies in marketing secrets or SEO genius. I'm a follower of something different. What I'm chasing is the chance to contribute something to the world. I can't receive it in dollar bills-but those are nice too.
"When you have a dream that you can't let go of, trust your instincts and pursue it. But remember: Real dreams take work, They take patience, and sometimes they require you to dig down very deep. Be sure you're willing to do that."
In this new year, with this clean slate, I want eliminate what makes me feel small, and I want to pursue writing with all I have. I'm no longer working a job that's going to reinforce the negative messages of the masses. Because it is possible to make it as a creative and somehow, I'm going to make it.
I can't help but feel envious when a creator reaches the top page week after week. I'm familiar with the heat that rises in your core when you believe you deserved someone else's success. You decide why it should have been you or that it's a case of playing favorites. Surely there is some conspiracy to promote this writer and to keep you in the shadows.
"We all have goals: We want to matter. We want to be important. We want to have freedom and power to pursue our creative work. We want respect from our peers and recognition for our accomplishments. Not out of vanity or selfishness, but of an earnest desire to fulfill our personal potential. "
It's an easier pill to swallow than their article had more appeal. It could be a different reason entirely for why they are finding what you wish to. Sometimes luck smiles on people who don't deserve it, and other times, you are overthinking it.
Regardless of the reason, for the new year, I'm done with the comparison trap. To be the best I can be, I can't let comparison eat away at my confidence and consume my mind.
The antidote is gratitude, being thankful for what I have and where I'm at. I need to trust the process, oh and maybe don't check the front page every 30 minutes obsessively.
Comparison and Anxiety team up regularly to kick my ass. I thought I would get used to sharing myself with the world, but it's a terrifying experience every time. Something about real people reading my work and having an opinion on it gets my heart racing. I want you to like me. It's unhealthy.
Anxiety on its own makes my chest ache, keeping me disoriented and foggy. It makes me feel like a passenger in my own body and a spectator to what I do.
I've learned two semi cures for my anxiousness:
2. Boxing Training
Both methods help me find a way to release my pent up energy, but I have only a novice understanding of them. I'd like to improve my meditation practice by learning transcendental mediation. I've heard several entrepreneurs recommend it as a cure for overwhelm.
Boxing Training is a multifaceted mental and physical health approach. I get to release my negative energy and use it for something good. I plan to build upon my skills and start to spar later in the year. I want to eventually compete as well.
I find that implementing challenges to overcome in my life helps build up my self-belief. Believe it to achieve it. It provides a real-world example of my willingness to learn and improve. I can see the results play from week to week. Boxing lays out a path that I can relate to writing.
If I practice my jab for an hour one day and don't do it the next, I do little for myself. But if I practice my jab for 10 minutes every day, I will see a change. If I continue to be dedicated in my writing pursuit, putting out a few articles a week, I will start to see a change, and I have. Each article is a little money seed; each one has the chance to grow. With the right combination of sun and water, it may turn huge and fruitful for years to come.
Improving as a Writer
I've always let an unspoken force write for me. I get an idea, sit down to write, and see what comes out. It's rarely good the first time, but there's writing on the page at least. I know how to improve my writing in the way of grammar and syntax. I can find those tips in a book. What I can't find is how to hone that unspoken force. How can I continue to refine that creative element that seems so intangible and mysterious?
To me, it boils down to an old fashioned game of good cop bad cop. Creativity can't be stifled. It doesn't appear in perfect sentences of beautiful prose right out of the mind.
You have to coax creativity out, let her explore the idea, and throw out whatever comes to her. With creativity, you have to be the good cop. Let her roam and play, let her say whatever she wants to. After that unspoken force has said all it can, bid her goodbye and tell the good cop, they can go too.
For editing, you use the bad cop; now you can be ruthless. Cut the redundant sentences, eliminate the fat. Separate yourself from that creative force; she's not perfect. It's your job to make sure that only the good parts remain.
After a few sessions, I won't seem as crazy as I do now, and your work will improve. If you try to control the unspoken force, it'll be hard to fill the page. If you can't level with yourself and cut what doesn't work, you won't improve.
It's a delicate tightrope walk that takes bravery and practice. One I still haven't mastered yet.
My wellness goals for the year are almost all internal-positioning myself to be ready for success. A calm mind, two cops, and a healthy dose of gratitude. I'm putting it out into the universe that I'm not working any more jobs. Time is our only finite resource, and I can't allow myself to waste another second doing something I don't like.
"I never had a backup plan. I felt like if I had a backup plan, it was like saying to the universe that I didn't believe in myself."
It's terrifying to take away your backup plan, but I don't want to give myself a safety net. To feel good inside, I have eliminated outside factors that are bringing me stress. I noticed that my job was a dark cloud of me, a constant reminder that I wasn't doing what I wanted to. I'm jumping off the cliff because the adventure is so much more fun than never trying.