My last day at my old day job was June 3. Since then, I have been self-employed. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do forever. I have many thoughts on it so far.
The journey so far has been absolutely amazing. It’s amazingness comes from the amount of personal growth I’ve gone through. I’m not making enough to make ends meet yet, but these ventures take time. Being only two months in, I’m ok with where I’m at.
So, I’ll take you back to 2003, the year I graduated college. I spent the previous four years being a broadcasting major, turntable DJ who did parties on campus and around the city, and on-air personality at our college radio station, including a stint as acting program director for one semester.
Broadcasting, music, and otherwise, that was me to the fullest. I loved every minute of it. It was me at my core, the most authentic version of myself.
And what did I do when I graduated? I became intimidated by the challenge of finding my first real radio job. I did not do an internship while in college, opting instead to do a radio practicum course and using the acting program director experience to fulfill the requirement. I chose the easier route of being a big fish in a small pond.
That did not serve me well when I graduated. No real connections to speak of to help me get my first radio job.
I saw my contemporaries hustling their asses off. I saw them networking and putting themselves out there. I thought to myself, and said out loud to a few others, “I’m not a hustler. It just isn’t in me. I’m just not good at this.”
And so, I gave up on that dream rather quickly and took a series of temp office jobs. I got hired on by different agencies because I could type fast.
Then a couple of years later, I started doing freelance graphic design work for my friends because I was the only person out of all of them who knew how to use Photoshop 🙂 I did mixtape covers and party flyers. I messed around a bit with building websites. I loved all of it. I created my own little solo agency at age 24, Creative Media Development Services. I made my own logo (overly embossed with a large drop-shadow in Photoshop) and business cards. I declared to my parents that I wanted to be my own boss by the time I was 30.
But then I became intimidated by that too, and during this time, I experienced a bad breakup, a bad job that I quit without a plan, and a whole series of issues coming to a head that sunk me into a deep depression. This was when I was 26. I have since spent the last ten years building myself back up.
After therapy helped me gain some coping skills, I found a job at the company where I spent the next nine years. During that time, I was starved for knowledge and experience. I started by taking business courses at my local community college. Which was followed by getting two project management certifications. Which was followed by getting my MBA in marketing. In between all that happening, I got back into building websites and learned more about web development than I ever had tinkering in Dreamweaver as well as building my first website in Tripod back in 1998.
It’s always been safe for me to tinker. Safe for me to do little WordPress websites and personal projects. Safe for me to push WordPress theme projects to GitHub and then scrap them because they weren’t perfect. Safe for me to do all these things behind the scenes.
I was pushing myself to learn and grow, but I was still content to be a big fish in my own small pond.
Then, life happened. If you don’t know my story, the summary is: between April – June 2015, I lost my marriage, a dear friend, and my father. Everything about my life changed except for my job, and I had to start over and rebuild. So I did. I managed to lose 35 pounds and become the healthiest version of myself ever using meditation, running, boxing, strength training, and healthy eating.
Because apparently I wasn’t content to let more than a year pass without turning my life upside down again, I decided to quit my job and be my own boss by the time I was 35 🙂
So, here’s where the personal growth comes in: I have always said that I’m an entrepreneur, a consultant, a freelancer. Now, I am actually being all three. I’m building a business as an entrepreneur (with my own LLC and everything), I am now a consultant with my first client, and I am a freelancer doing support work for an agency.
I’ve said for years that I’ve wanted to be these things, and since I found the guts to take the leap, I am actually being who I say I am. There’s something really wonderful about that.
I wasn’t being who I said I was when I gave up on my radio dreams and my agency dreams of 12 years ago. I am now, though, and it was worth the wait.
It is hard to be who you say you are when you compare yourself to others. I’ve done plenty of comparing myself to other WordPress developers who have much more experience than I do and who have put themselves out there beyond tinkering behind the scenes. I thought they’d always get picked over me. I didn’t think I’d be able to be who I say I am. But now I’m getting picked. And it’s all because I picked myself to be a WordPress consultant.
I tell people that I’m a WordPress consultant and developer, and they believe me. And then I show them what I can do, and they gain more reason to believe me. It’s really amazing.
It’s amazing for a kid who had his self-confidence bullied out of him for many years in school. Self-confidence and belief in myself has been incredibly hard to come by because of this rather large scar that was left on me. I’ve always assumed that people would react badly to me if I reached out to them, so that’s why I played the background instead of pushing myself out to the front. I still catch myself assuming that people will react badly to me. At least I notice it now and can identify that those thoughts are not true.
That’s what I mean by personal growth. I’ve been able to push through self doubt and insecurities and do what I’ve always wanted to do and get paid for it. One client at a time. And I still have my giving spirit, volunteering my time with various causes. And I still run, box, and strength train. Gotta keep healthy if you’re running your own business.
After giving up on my dreams and giving up on myself, I’m finally not doing that anymore. I can’t change what I did in the past, and I choose not to regret it because there’s no sense in giving myself all the issues that come with that. Instead, this is part of my story of redemption. I’ve been given an unexpected second chance. There’s no other way to redeem myself but to do this. If I could somehow redeem myself in a 9-5 job with a steady paycheck and more security, I would. But I can’t. This is what calls me and motivates me right now, so I have to do it.
The future has never been so uncertain, but I have never felt so free, centered, and confident. I honestly don’t even care what the outcome is. It really doesn’t matter to me if I wind up with a six-figure consulting business or if the whole thing crashes and burns and starts a new journey in a different direction. I don’t care because I am in love with the journey. The opportunity to be me, 100% authentically, for the first time in my adult life, has been an incredible blessing. I wouldn’t change it for anything, and however this all turns out, I am unbelievably grateful.