Follow Your Fear

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“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ah, poets. They give the best advice, don’t they? For the past few years of my life, I’ve found this to be the most important piece of wisdom I could ever follow. There’s so many things that we never do because we are afraid. But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that years later, you look back and that thing you were so afraid of is a lot less big and scary in hindsight.

It’s like the shadows you used to be afraid of when you were alone in your room at night as a kid. In the moment, it’s terrifying. When you have some distance from it, you realize you had nothing to worry about.

Often, when I face a fear, when I do something that feels like it will make the world crumble around me, the results are, more often than not, unremarkable. In most cases, the sky doesn’t fall, my life isn’t ruined, and sometimes, nothing extremely bad or extremely good comes of it.

Nothing, except that I’m a little braver, bolder, stronger, and more myself than I was before. The thing about facing fears is that, no matter how many times you do it, there’s always something else to be afraid of. There’s always something else to face. When something scares me, it almost feels ridiculous at times. Because I can look back on my life and think, ‘I’ve been through this, I’ve overcome that, I’ve faced this other thing, and I’ve gotten through that.’

Somehow, it never gets any easier to face a fear. But every time you do it, it makes you better.

What are you afraid of? What is that thing? You know exactly the thing I’m talking about.

Go do it. You’ll be all the better for it.

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I hate freelance writing, and you can, too.

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This is kind of a tongue in cheek post 🙂 I think everyone who enjoys writing has considered, at one time or another, the idea of trying to turn freelance writing into a career, or at least a side hustle. In this glorious information age, there are a lot of people out there sharing information about how, through the glorious power of freelancing, they were able to quit their 9-5 and be their own boss, working from anywhere while they sip Mojitos and sing along to the sweet sound of freedom.

There’s lots of advice for how one can get started in a freelance writing career. These tips often include: creating a website, starting a blog (wink wink), choosing a niche, cold pitching, the list goes on.

For a while I thought that enjoying writing meant that I should enjoy freelancing, too. But the truth is, it’s not the thing that fuels my soul. And the incredible amount of work you need to do to build, and maintain, a freelance writing career is just. not. worth it to me. A lot of people swear by freelance copywriting and writing for businesses, but honestly? I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I love wordsmithing as much as the next person, but hey, to each their own.

A lot of people want to work freelance, but have no idea how to get started. I also see many people in forums centered around this topic, who almost act kind of, um, superior and indignant when someone doesn’t want their services. It’s an honest living if you can get it, but I think internet gurus with popular blogs and YouTube channels make people think this job may be a bit more in demand than it really is.

The only thing I really know about this kind of work is that, if you want to succeed, there has to be a need (it rhymes, so it must be true 🙂 ) So, who needs freelance writers? Some of these clients include:

Magazines

Newspapers

Blogs and Media Websites

Advertising and other Creative Agencies

Businesses and Large Nonprofits

People tend to find these gigs by cold pitching or applying to freelance jobs on Craigslist or other job boards. The really successful people sometimes get clients coming to them through their website or blog if they’re popular enough, but it’s rare for a beginner to get work that way, based on what I’ve seen.

I written for magazines, websites, blogs, and a creative agency. I haven’t built a six figure business after developing a niche in six months (this does seem to be the magic number for most gurus), but I’ve done enough different kinds of freelance work to know it’s not what I want, at least not right now. I’m at a place in my life where working for one company full time is the ideal. That may just be my personality, anyway.

I’ve also made more money selling my poetry books than I have from writing for other people. Go figure! Some people may be content earning the big bucks writing case studies, grant proposals, and ad copy. And seriously, all power to them. But I realize that I like writing, but it doesn’t mean I have to want ANY career that involves words 😉

Maybe someone can relate to this post. Or maybe it’s just me lol. I just feel like a lot of people out there are trying to freelance full time. And I see so many people getting discouraged when the advice from the gurus doesn’t work for them. You don’t have to work freelance just because everyone else across the interwebs is doing it.

My career so far has been a lot of trial and error. I’ve tried things. Some worked, some didn’t. Some things stuck, some didn’t. It’s all a process. What works for someone else may not work for you. Someone may think your approach couldn’t possibly work, but you might prove them wrong.

Do whatever works for you. Follow your arrow. And if you’ve been thinking, researching, and wondering if you should start a freelance writing career, know that you absolutely can go for it.

You just might hate it as much as I do 🙂

English and Communications Degree: Careers, Grad School, and Finding Your Path

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Figuring out your career path when you have a degree that doesn’t lead to a specific job can be tough. People who study subjects like English, history, philosophy, or general maths and sciences like biology or chemistry are often assumed by others to have limited jobs available to them.

It’s certainly not as straightforward as studying engineering, nursing, education, medicine, law, social work, mental health, or accounting. Degrees that lead to a specific career path take out the guesswork of having to choose a career after graduation. Having a more broad degree still has it’s advantages, however, because you don’t have to feel stuck in one career path.

For creative types, this can be a good thing, because we can get restless, curious, and bored if we feel restricted to one path. I know, this all sounds fine and dandy until you’re left with an empty wallet, no sense of direction, a “useless” degree, and an overwhelming pile of debt. But the truth is, the old mantra they used to tell us in elementary school is true, knowledge really IS power.

All degrees open up doors to more careers and more opportunities. The challenge of carving out a career path when your degree doesn’t lead to a specific job is exactly that, a challenge. Are you up for it? I think you are! Even people who have degrees in accounting or engineering should know that their degree opens MANY doors, not just the one path. Anyone can want a career change in their life at any time, so the truth is, what you study, in many cases, doesn’t matter. Many people end up pursuing careers not related to what they studied.

If you have a degree in English, Communications, or any other liberal arts subject, don’t believe there are no careers out there for you. There are several. Does that mean it will be easy to get started? Not at all. You have to choose a path that’s right for you, and then you have to build your resume up with relevant experience if you don’t already have it. Volunteering for a local nonprofit is probably the best way to do it.

Internships can be good, too, but sometimes you need experience for those, too. Choosing a nonprofit and volunteering with them for at least a year is a great way to gain experience. Try to volunteer doing something related to the career you want. If you don’t know what you want to do, try out a few things within the organization. If you can do this before you graduate, even better.

Building a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, try things, fail, and fail again. It means you’re one step closer to success. If you’re still trying to figure out your career, your not alone. I’m in the same boat, but I know we can do it 🙂 Here are some careers to consider if you have a degree in English or Communications:

Journalist for newspapers, magazines, or blogs

Editorial Assistant

Publicity Assistant

Junior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter

Proofreader/ Copy Editor

Fact Checker

Grant Writer

Fundraiser

Technical Writer

Accounting Clerk

Social Media Manager

Event Planner

Public Relations Specialist

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Manager

Account Executive

Assistant Manager

General Manager

Human Resources Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Medical Receptionist

Executive Assistant

English/Literacy Teacher

ESL/TESOL Instructor

Tour Guide

Art Gallery Associate

These are some of the careers you can consider if you have a degree in English or communications. For some, you may need to learn new skills or get a new certification, but if it’s something you really want to do, it’s more than worth it. You can also consider these subjects for grad school:

English

Creative Writing

Library Science

Media Studies

Education

Literacy and Language

Public Relations

Advertising

The truth is, you can study anything in grad school. Don’t have the prerequisites you need? Go back to community college and take them. That’s not to say that it’s easy, or that taking on more debt or spending more money is a casual decision. But it’s important to realize that you are not limited by your degree. There is nothing wrong with studying something you love. In my opinion, it’s what you should do every time. Follow your bliss.

Building a career is not easy. Having options is great, but you do need to choose a path and you do need to gain experience. The path to gaining experience, interning, or volunteering may seem long, but look at it this way. The time you spend volunteering and learning from experience, is not much different from the time someone else is spending in grad school, med school, or law school. Things take time, and that is okay.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. You have options, you have a future, and you have opportunities. Get out there and find them. I’ll be doing the same. ❤

 

 

Need some motivation for your New Year’s resolutions? Check out my article in Global Glam :)

Sometimes a little motivation goes a long way to get us back on track. The important thing is to remember that you’re never alone in pursuing your dreams.

Some things I’m focusing on are writing, keeping in touch with friends, and drinking water. How about you? I hope this year brings many good things your way ❤ Check out my article here:

http://www.globalglam.com/time-to-rethink-your-new-years-resolution-10-tips-to-keep-up-your-goals/

Lonely Suburbs

The suburbs are painstakingly lonely when you’re not in school anymore. There’s not much to do and finding a sense of community is nearly impossible. Most things you’d do to meet people aren’t very accessible, whether it’s trying to find a place a volunteer (that’s mostly been a dead end for me), going to events (there’s only so many you can go to), or the most laughable of all, trying to find a local job. It seems all I can really do is count down the days until I can afford to leave. I’m fine with the fact that building a career takes time. But if I’d known I would feel this stuck, I would have gotten more work experience when I was still in college. I’d certainly be further along by now. The only benefit to having alone time is that I can get plenty of writing done.

Career Reflections

I think the myth of the overnight success leads a lot of people to feel depressed. There’s this idea that we should have our ideal jobs right after we graduate college, but that’s just not the reality for most people. And that sucks, doesn’t it? We work so hard in school, and somehow four years of studying, writing essays, taking exams, and having a meltdown (or twenty) gets deduced to one small piece of our resume. We get lost in a sea of people who have qualifications and skills that are similar to ours.

Humanities grads are often made to feel like they chose the wrong area of study, and that they’ll never get a good job. People will judge us and say we’ll never get a job outside of retail or food service. The thing is, lots of people start there careers working in a minimum wage job. Is it ideal, especially when you have student loans to pay off? Of course not, but just because a person starts small, it doesn’t mean that’s where they will be for the rest of their lives.

It’s like people think your first job after you graduate will be what you do forever. We know this isn’t true, but if your path isn’t neat and predictable, people think you have no path at all. I’m sure it’s hard for some people who study accounting or nursing to understand people who don’t have a degree that leads to a specific career, and if someone in a STEM field judges humanities majors, it’s probably more a reflection on them than it is on the people who studied English or History.

Choosing a major that leads to a specific job may work for some people, but I know people who studied accounting, computer science, or medicine, only to realize later that they didn’t enjoy the work. Not only that, but that the career wasn’t a good match for their personality to the point that they were unhappy everyday, then quit. I know education grads who have spent months trying to find a proper teaching job.

None of these people are failures, even though others may see their paths as hopeless. Maybe they feel that way themselves. The problem is that the most important aspect of a career is never taught to us: these things take time.

For some people, having their ideal career means going to university for ten years. For others, it might mean being a bartender or a sales associate for a couple years while they gain experience interning or volunteering in what they really want. This path may not be cool or shiny and sparkly from the outside, but it sure as hell is realistic. Sometimes building a career requires a shit ton of grunt work.

Some of the most successful people I admire are those who spent up to seven years waiting tables, bartending, or working in banks before they were able to run their own businesses full time. Some people start small and work their way up in a company, then continue their education when they get a better feel for the work they want to do. I know some people who worked in retail for a long time, and then got promoted until they worked their way up to being a manager.

For some people, a specific degree is needed for a specific job. And that works for some people. But for me, education is about enrichment. Most jobs I apply for don’t really care what you studied. But they do care about your skills, and even more about your work experience. So, I’m doing what I can to gain experience. It’s not a shiny, sparkly overnight success. It will take time, and I’m okay with that.

 

 

Open Door

Sometimes a door is opened

The lock is broken, it waits for you

But you’re just not sure if you

Want to go through it. So you

.

Stay still. Hoping that an answer

Will fall to you the way snow falls

From the sky. Blessing you with a

Blanket of confidence. But that

.

Doesn’t happen. Instead, you breathe

You look at the door and wonder, what

Will happen if I go through? What will

Happen if I don’t? Where else would I go?

.

You make your choice and explore what

Is beyond the door, the way Lucy goes

Through the wardrobe to Narnia. Perhaps

Finding something great, or terrible, or both.

.

#poetry