When you go balls deep

I’m moving to California, ma!

I was so certain of my future before it even began.

Senior year of college I spent hours at my laptop researching jobs out on the west coast. I dreamt of grazing the warm sand with my hands and touching the Pacific coast with my bare feet. Lips pursed against the large straw of my happy hour margarita surrounded by new friends and exciting beginnings. My skin, bleached with the indoor months of winter, would soon be glowing with an olive aura twelve months of the year.

I’d work in a boutique PR firm, wearing bright colors and statement necklaces paired with metallic sandals. Namaste-esque lunch breaks with a fresh acaï bowl waiting for me at my desk topped with blueberries and freshly shaved coconut.

I dreamt of paradise. I dreamt of a seamless transition from college to the unknown depths of the real world…preferably surrounded by palm trees and toned men. One that I knew would come with its inevitable difficulties but uncharted territory that I craved nonetheless.

I soon realized this “paradise” didn’t necessarily have to mean to sunsets on the beach and rollerblading along the boardwalk. This dream to move out west made a swift change spring of 2015 as graduation quickly approached.

What was paradise? To me, paradise meant adventure. A blank canvas soon to be spattered with colors of the future that was soon to come.

I craved a masterpiece. But, like, not the perfect-looking masterpiece. I want the kind that doesn’t make sense but also makes so much sense at the same time. Like, the ones that make you think. The ones that make you step back, tilt your head and think “hmm…”

Ones that weren’t created as a result of a single experience but ones that have been through some shit. Some really really good shit but also some really really bad shit. And maybe some average shit too.

When I decided to move to DC, I knew the opportunities down here were endless. The President lives here. Finding a job would be easy. And it was.

DC would be my new idea of paradise, I decided.

My life is hard to keep up with. I know this. You know this. My parents know this. I’m always scrounging for the next opportunity, bopping around from thing to thing, keeping myself and other people on their toes.

I think about my dream back in college. Moving to California, working for a boutique PR firm in bright colors and statement necklaces and just think…holy shit. How did I get here?

I think about my first job in DC. Running events and marketing for one of the most popular bars on U St — portraying that I had it all but in reality craving something more. Then applying to grad school in the midst of bartending full time feeling miserable and confused for not knowing what I wanted. Landing my “dream” job only to realize that, still, there was something more out there for me. Deciding that maybe I should have a steady 9-5 while diving into the unknown of launching a business. Feeling uncertain with a fuck ton of new responsibilities I didn’t know how to handle.

How did that last paragraph read? Confusing, right? It was.

It is.

What am I supposed to do? I plead to my career management professor. To her, I admitted defeat.

I was working full time, bartending 25+ hours a week, going to class 2x a week while attempting to run a business and freelancing. Oh, and I also need to eat and sleep. And go to the gym. And sometimes have a social life. And maybe some time for myself too.

I was torn between the “safe” option and well, the risky one.

I knew the ~office life~ wasn’t for me. Am I only saying this because I’m an ignorant millennial who claims she’s “above” sitting in a chair 40 hours a week? Am I another cliché?  

I didn’t want to be a cliché. I’m not cliché.

I expressed these concerns to my professor. Weighing the pros and cons. 38% of my brain telling me to just suck it up and deal with a job you’re not thrilled with in your early twenties and just do your time. The other 62% said something totally different.

I envisioned the “masterpiece” I wanted to create for myself. The messy paint strokes that evokes a spectrum of emotions and and a healthy mixture of the good shit and bad shit that comes with life.

I think you answered your own question, she acknowledged. I don’t say this often, and I usually tell students to go with the “safer” option, but I think that you can do something with this.

At this point, my company was about 2 months old. I had a couple of clients, but it was definitely more of a side hustle — one that wouldn’t survive much longer with the schedule I was attempting to upkeep.

So I had a choice. A big one.

Do I go balls deep in this shit? 

I had the connections, talent and the means to make something out if it. I just had to do it.

I took the holiday to think about it. I stayed at my Dad’s and spent a lot of time on my own. Scribbling ideas in Nora (the name of my journal, after the OG badass Nora Ephron), writing what exactly this would mean for my future. Accepting the difficulties that were sure to come, but trying to figure out if it would be worth it.

I scanned LinkedIn for some potential job opportunities but nothing that made me as excited as the ideas I outlined in Nora. Nothing even remotely close.

I sat in my Dad’s living room on Christmas Eve and started developing a rough business plan from a random template I found online. Something that people usually do before launching a business, but like, I’m still learning, ok?!

I then started to sketch out a brand sheet. Asking myself, what do I want this to look like? What are my selling points? What is Socially Attractive by Beth‘s brand? What voice am I going to use? What’s the story I’m going to tell?

I started at a blank page for quite sometime. Attempting to create something that was a separate entity rather than a extension of myself.

I thought of why I started the business in the first place. How my clientele started to build. Where I noticed the demand and how I capitalized on it. Thinking but trying not to overthink.

I then started interviewing myself the same way that I interview my clients during a brand session.

How’d you get started? 

Well, I landed my first client while pouring a Jack and Coke while wearing a guacamole-stained shirt, ripped jeans and a nose ring. 

That was it. That was my story. That was literally the day that I decided to make a reality out something that I had been thinking of for so long.

So that would be the brand. Why work with me?

Work with me and you get professional services with a kickass personality behind it. I might have a guacamole stain on my shirt but I also have my shit together. 

I started writing out adjectives on this brand sheet.

Creative, passionate, edgy, high-energy…

My hand started to cramp as I started to feel the right and left sides of my brain co-mingle in a beautiful, imperfectly perfect harmony.

So, yeah, I decided to go balls deep.

Fast foward about a month later and shits still all over the place. But like, in the best way.

I don’t mind the mess that surrounds me because it’s something that I created.

The hustle is stressful, but its equally as comforting to finally feel like I’m doing what I’ve known I’ve always dreamt of doing.

People see the good side of my life — aka what I put on social media. Through my blog, I try and be real with you guys and outline both the beautifully amazing and terribly horrible parts of my life.

As my business grows, I’m running into things that I don’t have the slightest clue of how to deal with. I thank Google, friends and even some exes who have helped me figure shit out, but it’s not easy.

One thing I noticed right away was that I had to be OK with working for free. Keeping the end goal in mind, but knowing that it’s going to take thousands of hours to get to the point I want to be at. I’m not even close. While I might not have office job, I’m still attending grad school and bartending ~30 hours a week to make ends meet.

I’ve run into some pitfalls and dead ends that I don’t know how to deal with quite yet. I have zero business experience and I’ve spent tons of time attempting to understand the jargon that comes with it.

I’ve learned that I’m not “above” any type of project that comes my way. A small non-profit with a tiny budget wants social media consulting? Ok. I’ll do it. And I’ll discount the price.

Why? I’m new at this. With every client leads to new opportunities and learning experiences. My niche is food, but I’ve also learned to not limit myself. To take on things that might scare me, but nonetheless things that I know I can create into something totally badass.

An example? I just landed a new client. He is restaurant owner that is developing an app on the side that he wants help marketing. I won’t go into TOO much detail. But basically, I have zero experience in app development and have no idea what any of that language even means. While the app is connected to the DC food industry, it’s still something that I initially viewed as a project that was much bigger than me.

We met and I was petrified. I did the research and came prepared, but still felt like I wasn’t going to impress him. He’s a hardcore business man. Running restaurants while developing apps and other ventures on the side.

I’m just a 24 year old with a 6 month old business. 

I then went back to my brand sheet. He reached out to me for a reason. 

I was myself and openly admitted that I had no experience in the software development field.

I reached out to you after reading your blog and look at your website. You’re a go-getter. I want to work with a hustler like myself. 

I left that meeting with not one, but two more clients.

I’m not saying this shit to brag or put myself on a high horse. I’m telling you this because I think our generation is brilliant as fuck with skills that have never been seen before. With that, I also think that a lot of millennials see the good stuff and crave it but don’t want to go through the mud to get there.

On the outside, I’m a 24 year old entrepreneur who goes to Georgetown while running a small business. Oh, you fancy huh? 

Step into my apartment and you’ll see half of the avocado that I forgot to put back in the fridge and a bunch of random shit stacked on my work desk wondering how the F I’m going to pay 40k in grad school loans in a couple of years. Open my inbox and you’ll see hundreds of pitch emails sent to businesses with a ~2% response rate. You’ll see Nora sitting there, scribbled with goals and ideas but also filled with pages soaked in tear stains and uncertain thoughts.

This post isn’t saying “hey, quit your job and dive right into the career of your dreams!” Who the fuck knows what that even looks like at this point in your life? If you do, congrats! Teach me your ways.

I guess I’m trying to put my story out there in the hopes that it might inspire people  to do more things that they care about.

It doesn’t have to be a total career switch or some monumental “ah-ha!” moment, but all I’m trying to say is that things are possible – but the journey isn’t some bunny hill. It’s a double black diamond on a snowboard for the first time (speaking from real life experience).

If you want to see things happen, make hustling a habit and accept that life is not one perfectly ripe avocado. Sometimes, it can be the half that you leave out on the counter than quickly turns brown and gross. And that’s ok! Just try another damn avocado!

Do you ever read my shit and think like, wtf is she talking about? Because same. 

I used to be so scared of sharing my blog on my LinkedIn and including it on my resume. Did I want people to see this side of me?

After going back and forth with it for some quite time, I decided it was time to stop being ashamed of who I was and start embracing every part of me that makes, well, me.

People want work with me because they see a real person behind it all. Do I show up to meetings in a green sports bra and undone hair? Of course not. But I also won’t put my Instagram on private out of fear that they will see that side of me.

What’s the point?

Own your personal brand and don’t apologize for it either.

People have asked me, “How do I get started?” I am by no means a model citizen when it comes to this, because I still don’t really know what I’m doing BUT you have to accept that it’s just a part of the process.

However, there won’t even be a process if you don’t take the leap. It doesn’t even have to be leap. Maybe you just wanna take a step. Or a hop. Or maybe just a peak over the edge.

Just know that you have the option. It’s there. You just have to act on it.

DC was never my idea of “paradise.” Fast forward 2.5 years later, and I’m not sure I’ll ever leave. This city has given me endless opportunities and a chance to grow something that I never even thought about creating.

I just had to take the leap.

4 thoughts on “When you go balls deep

  1. I love reading your story! I’m graduating from undergrad in May and I’m fretting about it, but reading about your experiences is incredibly insightful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to what comes next!

    Like

  2. This really inspires me so much to keep pushing forward. Someday I hope to run my own business, and I know there will be a ton of distractions and fears to try to throw me off. But at the end of the day, all you need is the resources at hand. Work with what you’ve got, and learn to build a skillful team from there!

    Like

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