Day 69: A kick in the pants

Hold onto your hats, folks; this might be a long one.

So as you’re probably aware by now, if you’ve read any of my posts, I’m a full-time work from home freelancer. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do; at least, in some far off capacity that I assumed would work itself out and be awesome when it did.

Funny how things work out, even if they don’t work out like you thought they would.

I was thrust into freelancing in a slightly less-than-expected way, but so far, it’s working out pretty well. The truth is, I’m a pretty solo person and I work best when I have time to think, focus and work uninterrupted. It’s why I love what I do – and simultaneously why I sometimes hate it.

Anyone who works for themselves will tell you it’s an incredibly liberating feeling. In my case, I’m lucky enough to have a supportive husband whose job allows me to explore this world even before really being ready. But the truth is, it can also be extremely lonely.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, she’s one of those writers.”

But in all seriousness, the transition from being a needed and important member of a team to being a sole proprietor who has to prove their value on a daily basis to new and changing clients can be rough. It is rough. It will continue to be rough.

I think in so many ways that’s why I struggle to post here; I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy when I’m having a rough day. But I’m starting to realize that if I’m going to do anyone who’s trying to strike out into freelancing any good, I have to share the ups as well as the downs. Truth be told, working for yourself ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, kids. (Yes, I’m a writer and I said ain’t. This is my blog and I’ll slang if I want to.) Sometimes it can be sad, lonely and downright hard, and you deserve to know that. But it can also be extremely rewarding, allowing you to focus your efforts where your talents lie and find happiness in what you do.

Last night, Darrell and I watched the first episode of Master Chef Junior. We sort of stumbled across it because we A) don’t have cable, B) left the TV on for the dogs when we went out to dinner and C) always leave it on Fox 19 because their morning news crew is awesome (although very weird without Sheila…but I digress).  If you missed it, let me sum it up for you: sit and watch as children half your age show you up in the kitchen … and every area of life.

Hi, my name is Ally and I have less direction, talent and sense of self than the pre-tweens on Master Chef Junior.

I couldn’t help it. I was completely in awe of these tiny little people who know exactly what they love to do and exactly what they want to do in the future. We’re not talking kids who want to be astronauts or princesses (although that may be their unmentioned back-up option); they have very realistic dreams and are very well on the path to achieving them!

Do you know what I was doing when I was 10? Playing soccer. Or chasing puppies. Or reading a book. Or playing school bus driver with my sister while mom mopped the floor. I wasn’t thinking about a future or a plan or a dream … and looking back I realize I’ve never really been a big dreamer. Call me a realist, call me what you will, but I never had big aspirations of being the best at anything, the first at anything or really even anything in particular, for that matter. I just knew I’d grow up, get a job, have a family, so on and so forth until death do us part, amen.

I realize there’s nothing really wrong with that, but I can’t help but be jealous of these driven little forces of nature. Did the judges take it a little easy on them? Maybe. But I know for a fact if I went in the kitchen and tried to whip up anything those kids did last night, it would fall a little short. So color me impressed.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Well after Master Chef Junior … and an hour or so of other TV … Darrell and I got lost in about an hour of Jenna Marbles’ YouTube channel. This girl, who is (I think) almost exactly my age, is someone I used to think of as someone who hit the funny-on-the-internet jackpot. But recently, she posted a video (below) that makes me feel like we’re all sort of stumbling through this together. She also points out that while sometimes doing what you love can be hard, and lonely, and even sorta sad, it’s better than spending every day doing something you hate.

Kudos to you for sharing this Jenna.

Oh right – why is this post called “A kick in the pants?” Because someone I know on Facebook is starting their own 100-day challenge, and told me to get my lazy ass back to it. So here I am.

And here’s that video. Hope it brings you the same sort of odd inspiration it brought me. Sorry, not sorry, for making you lose an hour or two of your life to her channel. See you tomorrow (I promise).

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Day 16: Recognizing weakness

Tonight’s post is going to be short, but its not without reason.

Of course, I can’t say the reason is a good one.

You see, I’m a much better writer in the mornings than I am in the evenings. In the mornings I’m fresh, clear and ready to tackle the world. The problem, though, is that this week I’ve head no deadlines to rush across, no looming dates to be aware of.

My weakness is procrastination, and she’s a sweet devil of a weakness.

You see, my status as a morning person (go ahead, judge) is something I realized long ago. I wake up before my alarm, I workout best in the morning, and I’d rather get to work early than stay late any day of the week. But even knowing this about myself, I’ve been doing the exact opposite: waiting until late at night to create posts like this one.

And go ahead, be honest … they aren’t exactly masterpieces. That’s why, starting tomorrow, you can expect my blogging schedule to shift earlier into the day. I know I’m most creative and self aware first thing in the morning, and that’s an energy I want to capture.

What about you? What’s your prime time?

Day 14: Change is good

I have a confession to make.

I’m one of those, “everything happens for a reason,” people. I believe that when the world appears to help you or hurt you, it’s because it’s all a part of a grander scheme.

But more than simply accept things for what they are, I like to reflect on how I arrived and what circumstances brought me to a given point. It’s something I’ve done with friendships, relationships and every other major component of my life.

I like to look back, review the course of history and find new meaning to small, seemingly insignificant happenings in my life and appreciate them for what they are: stepping blocks to the me I’m supposed to be. I like to consider what had to happen – and what had to not happen – in order for something to have taken place.

So what does that look like exactly? Usually it starts because I’m trying to figure out how I came across something, how I met a person or how I find myself in a given situation. Let’s take my relationship with my husband, for example. (Side note: there are a million ways to play these lines. I usually just pick one thing and run with it.)

I met Darrell at an internship. I took that internship because, quite frankly, all of the internships I applied for outside of Muncie didn’t pan out and I was getting desperate as the semester loomed closer. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my internship, but at the time I was convinced I was settling.

Anyway, back to the point. I met Darrell at my internship, but there’s more to it than that. The day we met, I was filling in for the receptionist while she was out sick; I only covered the front desk for a few days. Normally I sat tucked around a corner in the back of the office, but that day, I was sitting at reception. Take into consideration the number of life events (or non-events) that put Darrell at that same place at that same time and you’ve got yourself quite a tangled web of circumstance.

Perhaps more importantly, you have quite a few changes in plans. I had intended on going out of state for my internship; our receptionist had certainly never intended to get sick and Darrell had needed a change in professional scenery. It’s really pretty remarkable that we ever met, let alone fell in love and got married.

So what’s the point, you’re probably wondering? Every day, I’m filled with questions about what I should do next, what choices I should make and what battles I should choose to fight. But in reality, no matter how much I prepare or plan or ponder my decisions, changes in those plans and decisions are inevitable. Whatever happens, happens for a reason, and it’s not something worth agonizing over.

Que sera, sera, I suppose.

Might as well dive in and enjoy the changes as they come.

Day 13: A case of the non-Mondays

I gotta admit, sending Darrell off to work this morning knowing I wouldn’t be following was a little weird.

OK a lot weird.

OK I felt completely out of place.

I promised myself I’d hit the ground running today, but the question quickly became one of priorities. I’m at home, so the house should be clean; I’m looking for freelance work, so it’s less important to do laundry; I’m not working, so I should be applying for jobs. It’s a crazy conundrum made no less confusing by the fact that my dogs really, really want my attention when I’m home.

So I felt off, like I was stuck somewhere between vacation, unemployment and housewife. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I can say it’s clear it will take a lot more discipline than I had today to make every week as productive as if I were actually reporting to a desk every day.

Today was officially my first non-Monday, and as confusing as it was, I’m so glad to have had it. Now, every day is just another day, and as I continue to work through what it means to be a full-time freelancer (sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?), I’m sure I’ll figure it all out.

Tuesdays are never this dramatic.

Success in (pinterest) failure

I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was to see this article.

Whether that makes me a bad person is fodder for another post, but I’ll tell you this much: it made me feel so much better for my own lack of craftiness.

I mean, I can cook delicious meals, I can write creatively and I can tell jokes like it’s my job, but when it comes to being creative with my hands … it all falls apart. Horrifically, horrendously apart.

I don’t know if it’s ingrained in us as women or just an unrealistic expectation we’ve placed upon ourselves, but what is this obsession with craftiness? I know I’m guilty; I always picture my abilities much higher than they are in reality. In fact, a few months ago, some girlfriends and I got together for a pinterest party. (Yes, evidently that’s a thing). We crafted, snacked and imbibed, with grand schemes of craft-mastery in our heads.

Let me tell you. It definitely did not go down that way. Remember the link I shared at the top? We definitely attempted the string balloon project, to much the same result.

But what did I expect? My handwriting is terrible, I’ve never created a delicate appetizer in my life and it took me almost a year to put photos up in our home.

I’m just not the girly girl, crafting type. And I guess I’ve always felt a little bad about it, wondering if I’m missing some sort of sweet & candy coated gene or something. So seeing that article … seeing that others have failed just as miserably (or more so) as me?

Well that made me feel a little better. A little better, indeed.

What about you? Are you a crafting queen or a horrible homemaker? What are your biggest successes/fails?

Hey now, what’s this all about?

After a long hiatus, I’m back to the keyboard, punching out a few thoughts and getting posts up (hopefully) more often than I did over at un.determined. Life is still just as undetermined as it was seven months ago, but moving the blog for a fresh new start seemed like a great way to reopen the creative floodgates.

Oh and obviously, the coolest part is that I’m here, at allymanet.com. Arguably not the most creative of site names, but I see it as an opportunity to develop on the web the person I am in the real world. Seemed only fitting that the internet me would have the same name as the real me, no?

I’ll spare you the explanations of why it’s been so long and instead tell you why I’m back.

I realized over the past few months that while I love to write, what I really enjoy is reading. I love telling people – namely, my husband – about the random pieces of information I garner throughout the day. I’m constantly soaking it all in, bursting at the seams to tell someone, anyone, whatever remarkable or ridiculous tidbit I stumbled across.

Who knows why I find learning new (and mostly useless) things so fascinating. Maybe it’s because we’re the internet generation. Maybe it’s because my parents bought a full set of encyclopedias. Or maybe it’s because I’m a complete and total nerd.

Either way, I’ll be sharing it all with you here, and I hope allymanet.com introduces you to something new, something interesting, something completely Ally, nearly every day.

Random thought about this post’s title: as soon as I typed it, I starting singing “Hey now, heyyyy nowww, don’t dream it’s over!” You too? No? Just me then…

The Dream Drain

At least, that’s what this place feels like.

I can’t tell you all how often I open up this site, intending to write something – anything – but leave with the cursor still blinking over a blank page.

I write over here for school of course, but so does everyone else in my class. I post my articles over here, but I don’t particularly want the depressing research I’ve been doing on animal rights and other topics to clog up this page.

So what’s up with the whiteout over here?

20-Something Mind Games

Mostly, I feel like I have no idea what direction I want to lead you in.

Heck, I don’t even know what direction I want to lead myself in.

I don’t know what to write or what to tell you because it seems like everywhere I look, I see people who are following their dreams and making things happen. They’re off finding careers, finding their callings or simply finding themselves. People have what would appear to be the job I’ve been searching for since graduation, leaving me to wonder exactly which step I took was the wrong one.

Granted, I have a wonderful life as-is; I have a husband I love very much, who still laughs at all of the weird things I do from day to day. I have a family nearby and a new(ish) nephew who – when he’s not spitting up on me – is just about the cutest thing to ever lay in his own poop.

And I’m lucky enough to be employed and own a home when so many people in this world do not. Don’t get me wrong. I realize all of these blessings and I’m thankful for them every day.

But here I am, four years later without so much as one position with the same title as subject printed on my degree, while people I know are running off being artists and photographers, doctors and lawyers and discovering their dreams and pushing them to reality.

And me?

I feel like I was out sick on “discover your dream” day in elementary school.

(And did I mention I had excellent attendance almost every year?) 

The Curse of the Over-achiever

I should mention, of course, that I realize I’m only 26 and that I should chill out. But if that’s your advice, you can go ahead and leave it somewhere else. Why?

  1. Because I did what I was supposed to do through school, getting good grades, carrying a part-time job and earning the respect of my teachers, professors, employers and peers.
  2. Because I’m really, truly smart and a hard worker and those are supposed to be my keys to opening whatever doors I so choose.
  3. Because this is my blog and I’ll complain if I want to.

OK, you probably didn’t need that third one, and I really don’t mean to complain, but let’s be honest – when you grow up hearing you can be anything you want to be, you kind of start to believe it.

Maybe it’s because everyone in my generation was told the same thing, and we need to realize we really aren’t that special.

Maybe it’s only those who have a true, live-or-die-by-it passion can really make something of themselves.

Maybe some are just luckier than others. Or maybe in this über-connected world we just see more of the bright and shiny sides and it’s hard to remember we’re all in this messed up world together.

But tell me: how are you doing it?

How did you know what you’re doing is what you’re meant to be doing? Or are you like me, wondering when that big, fat, passionate something will come around and smack you in the face?

In school, problems have solutions, questions have answers and there’s a right and wrong way to do things. In life, we’re not that lucky.

I’m just hoping to figure it all out someday.

‘Til then.