Licking the Toes of the Full-time Idol

Yes, I made an intentionally inflammatory headline, but it caught your attention, didn’t it?

I had the privilege of walking away from my full-time career of over ten years a few months ago.  Immediately, I was reaffirmed with a barrage of congratulations and accolades from people who had been telling me all along that they didn’t know how I’d been doing so much, that I was a genuine superhero.  There were choruses of followers and colleagues that started to share their dreams of following suit, walking away from the security and monotony of their salaried job to pursue their side hustle and the roller coaster of entrepreneurship.

There are two different kinds of entrepreneurs— those who never knew anything other than entrepreneurship, selling lemonade from stands in their front yards as children and monetizing hobbies throughout their youth and those who became part of the society machine, moving along from job to job, while busting ass to climb the ladders of the corporate world.  I was blessed with a college job that just kept giving, so although I feel that I’ve always had an entrepreneur’s heart, I was of the latter group.  Quitting was something that I’d been threatening to do for three or four years, but was always to nervous and comfortable to pull the trigger.

As it turns out, sometimes there is a good reason why you should be afraid to pull the trigger.  Guns kill people.

(well, people with guns kill people, but let’s not get into THAT debate here. . .)

All joking aside—(wait, did she just make a gun joke?!?)—the transition can actually really suck.  Particularly if you are leaving a job with a strong social or team based element to be a solopreneur working from home.

When I first left my job, I celebrated the first week by sleeping in. Seriously, sleeping in.  

(I’m too embarrassed to actually say how long I slept in, it was that bad).  

Then, after the sleeping in, came the stinky phase.  As in, if all I’ve done is work from this computer and I don’t have any reason to get out of my house today, do I really need to stop cleaning out my inbox long enough to shower?  Is there actually a good reason why I should change out of my pajamas today?

(The answer, in case you’ve asked yourself either of these questions today, is always yes.)

The sleep and the stink were followed by the food.  All the food.  In my mouth.  All day long.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I became an isolated little bubble and honestly wondered if I needed to find someone to talk to, because I was starting to behave like a depressed person and it was starting to depress me.  Genuinely make me feel like a used up wad of toilet paper.  I couldn’t get my act together enough to turn around my clients’ work in an efficient manner, but I was so conscientious of my funk that I was able to mask it in the moments when I would have to leave my house and interact within my industry.

I realized that I didn’t get anything more accomplished with my extra forty hours a week than I was getting when I still worked full-time.  I realized that my task list was like oxygen, it would expand to fit whatever I tried to fit it in, whether that be four hours a day or eighteen hours a day.  I started wasting time with social media instead of connecting with intention.

You might be thinking, “Okay, Ashley, you got moody, but what’s the solution?”

Get out.  Drag yourself out to networking events. Join a co-working space or find a new cool coffeeshop and force yourself to work outside of your home office.  Find comfort in others on the same type of journey as you are on.  Seek out your local Rising Tide Society chapter and found one if there isn’t one nearby.  Be the leader that you want someone else to be, simply because someone else might need you more than you can know.

Open the windows.  Walk the dog.  Adopt a dog so that you have a dog to walk. (#adoptdontshop #pitbullmom)  Sit on the porch.  You will be amazed how much a little bit of fresh air, sunshine, and companionship can change your perspective.  It honestly feels less crazy talking out loud to yourself alone in your home if your dog is sitting next to you “listening.”

I started thinking about going back to work full-time.  I didn’t, but not because I wasn’t wanting to.  Rather, I didn’t do it because I knew that there would be a stigma within my creative community and I didn’t want to be alienated or viewed as a failure.

At this point, I’m glad that I stayed my course.  I’ve worked through the funk and I make myself put on pants every day now.  I even wore makeup three days this week, and I’m not a makeup kind of girl.  But that doesn’t mean that being a full-time creative is the right choice for everyone.

If you struggle financially, having a day job or a part-time job is a great way to secure your financial future faster.  If you like your job, there is no need to walk away because the community idolizes “quitting day” and celebrates it with more religious fervor than Christmas (and, seriously, the creative community seems to REALLY like Christmas, from what I can see).  

Before you quit your job, find a buddy.  I’m dead f-ing serious about this.  Find someone whose personality meshes with yours, whom you respect, and has experienced the shift from side hustle to full-time.  

Don’t allow yourself to believe that the grass is always greener—odds are that green grass has been fertilized with piles upon piles of stinky dog shit, but no one is telling you that part of the equation. 

And, if you experience loneliness, personal struggles, or depression at any point along the journey, remember that you don’t have to do it all alone.  Truly, you can always drop me a line, even if there is no one there.

Ashley GerrityComment