Tuesday, April 21, 2015

That Work Grind | Taking A Chance

I get tons of emails from readers about how I came to be able to run my blog full-time successfully, still do things that creatively inspire me, and pay the bills at the same time. For me, it really was something that just happened without a plan (although I am much more organized with my work now!), and it all started with taking a chance. And yes, that chance didn't come with a happy number in my bank account in the beginning. The struggle of balancing finances and creative fulfillment was real ever since I landed my first job after college. And as much as we try hard not to think about those bills piling up and the fact that we are always "just getting by", these things will always be there. Paying for things is a part of the real adult world, and it by far isn't a breeze.

When I first moved to NYC from Philly for a new job, the idea of paying more than $500 in rent was horrifying (and I still had a roommate). I had a stable position at a quick growing, on-the-radar start up company, but a stable job doesn't mean living that NYC life was going to be glorious. I held myself back from doing a lot of things because of my mediocre paycheck (shopping, getting that extra drink with my new co-workers, skipping the movie) to save as much as I could. Add long ass hours on top of that . . . and let's just say life was pretty crazy and exhausting. But a lot has changed since then, and paying NYC prices for rent isn't as much as a challenge as it was before, but who knows when that may change again (hopefully not!!!). Maybe if I decided to be a doctor life would be much easier for me still right now (boring but easier), but easy was never really an option in my book. 

I quit my full-time job in NYC with a good amount of savings in the bank (thank goodness rent was cheap as heck in Philly, or this would not be the case) and a few freelance gigs on the horizon. But just enough to cover the rent and food. I went to a gym that cost $10 a month, not $80. I'd still take the late night subway home at 3am in the morning because an Uber was totally out of the question. Sometimes I'd eat ramen noodles for dinner (but I actually really liked the stuff. lol). Deciding to pursue the blog full-time was more of a way to find myself and figure out the next steps of my career. And let me tell you, the pursuit wasn't easy in the beginning. I worked as many small paying gigs as I could that weren't even blog related at all . . . assisting on shoots, copywriting for brands, etc. I was trying the best to keep myself busy with opportunities that I thought would help me in the long run, and that I could actually learn from. Life definitely wasn't as fun or glamorous as Instagram can show it to be. But through all the experiences, every little job and every big job, I allowed myself to expand creatively. And my curiosity and love of storytelling drove me to focus much more on creating great content for my readers that I myself felt closely connected to. You know you love something when you do it for free. And when you have the opportunity to create a job for yourself doing the things you love, you can't just let it pass.

Collaborating with my sister, friends and other who made me feel happy to be doing what I am doing was the most critical part of me working for myself and actually getting by. And from there, a few months down the road, the paychecks and the struggles finally found a balancing point. I feel like the more confident I felt in myself and my work, the more people respected me for it and viewed this little blog as a legit creative and social outlet. The success and work came more steadily, but I am thankful that it crept up on me not too unexpectedly nor too expectedly at all. It came naturally. It just felt good to be sought out for work as much as I myself sought work out. And all the ramen noodles and late night subway rides were all worth it in the end. I might not be living the perfect dream life still, but I feel like if I ever even got to that high point, the magic would be lost. There wouldn't be more to work for. 

So that's my little story in a nut shell. Just remember, that at the end of the day whatever is in your heart is what you should be doing with your life. Your path should be completely and totally your own. It should be completely passionate, especially if you are a creative type. Not something someone else has molded for you. Really, the most amazing thing is knowing that you have a choice, and the confidence that if you find yourself in a rut, you CAN actually do something about it. As long as you realize it and want it. Making the money to do what you love is another story a lot of the times, and I can only pull from my own experience, which for me was based off a cushion of savings and really putting myself out there while also being super focused on making my site the best it can be. Teamwork is key. I never would have made it without family, friends and awesome colleagues. Networking connections are important, too. And I am by far not the greatest social networking in real life. I'll talk to you because I'm actually interested and enjoy the conversation, not really because there is an opportunity for me to gain something out of it. But you know what, sometimes saying that extra hello and an introduction to someone might be just the extra step you are missing. It could possible be the next person you collaborate with.

I always say giving yourself the opportunity to pursue what you love (no matter what the paycheck) is worth the shot. Life is lesson after lesson of trial and error. Hard work, drive and hope will get you into your groove. Everything is always worth the chance in my book. Because you never really know until you try. 


Anna said...

Love this! So inspiring! And I feel you completely, I used to be an accountant, and all those late nights and financial statements - I felt I was wasting my life away! I took a leap of faith into the fashion industry and I could not be happier! Thanks for sharing sweety! Also, gorgeous pics!


Oksana Zolotukhina said...

Great post dear...lovely pics..:-) Thanks for sharing))


Unknown said...

I think it's so crazy that you are now in NYC, after a "layover" in Philly... that is exactly my life! I spent 3 years in Philly and then came to NYC (after a quick pit stop back home in ATL)! I truly miss that Philly rent :/ haha!

It is so admirable to hear how you did what you had to do to put yourself in the position you wanted to be in. I also feel you on the networking bit, because I don't usually find it hard to connect but working an awesome job with 0 coworkers but tons of hours has limited my ability to get out and meet more creative people. But...I CAN do something about it ;)

xo, Manda


This is such a great post! I started blogging full time almost for a year bow. It wasn't easy at first and scared for quitting my full time job, but after hard work and putting all the effort in to it and especially in something that I love doing was the best decision I ever made. Your post just made me smile even more and want to continue what I'm doing and go for more :) X


Jasmine Tindell said...

This was an awesome read, thanks for sharing!


Claudia González said...

This post is amazing and totally inspirational! I'm in a lack-of-ideas moment and this is the kind of help I was needing, thank you so much for that :)

-- I want to live in L. A --

Unknown said...

This article is really amazing, you put yourself here and it's totally inspiring know your story from you. Congratulations for all your work, the blog is one of my favorites


Mariel Parton said...

this post is so inspirational Dylana, to know that not everything comes easy and hard work is necessary to get to where you want to be is so motivational <3


Shawnee said...

This is exactly what I need right now. Thank you for sharing your experience and joys being a creative! xoxo

Stephanie said...

Great post!
You and your sister are very inspirational with such talent! I always enjoy your photography and looks, Thanks for sharing!:)



Holly Read said...

This is such an inspiring and motivating article, thank you so much for sharing it! I'm currently in the "saving stage"; skipping a night out at the cinema or a meal with friends to save up and focus on the future. Best wishes, Summer x


Tonya said...

Amazing post Dylana! I have been needing to read something like this. I feel a bit stuck right now and I really want to push myself to do more creative projects...they are what keep me motivated and happy. It's so great to hear that someone else has gone through the same trials and made it work.

I really need to do some serious soul searching now. And reading this has encouraged me to actually go for it. <3

s said...

what an inspiring post! you have a gorgeous work space! xO!


Unknown said...

this is really inspiring -- I really am struggling to try and do my blog full time. I have a part-time job and I'm living paycheck to paycheck. It's hard but I know that I just have to wait it out


rossana said...

It brings me to tears my dear you are the most inspirational and it brings tears to my eyes and also funny too. You are also a writer from a very young age always with a pen and paper in hand and that's all you enjoyed doing most and love at the same time to have tons of friends. Love you so much dear.

Ria said...

This is so real girl, thanks for sharing. Glad to know I'm not alone haha.

Jenelle Witty said...

This is such a great post. I have been following your journey for a while, so it is great to read this other insight into the work you have done. There are some really valuable tips in here too. I have begun to realise more fully the power of collaborating with other creatives and networking.

You are so good at saving! Man, it is actually a skill, but once in the habit, you just get used to liking something but not spending money on it just because and planning other ways to cut costs vs when to indulge. Thank you for writing this post Dylana.

xx Jenelle



Such an amazing and inspiring text. Thank you so much for sharing this.
x Fiona
Sunglasses GIVEAWAY

Unknown said...

Stunning post and cute pics!
Have a nice day!
Natallia Jolliet

Nikki Williams said...

love your story! thanks for sharing with us :D

xx nikki

Sheryl Justice said...

Dear Dylana, I'm a 53 year old mom & both of my sons are in Santa Cruz for college. For the first time in my life, I'm able to think about my life & what I want. I have been thinking about a blog. I am not a talented writer but I do have things to say. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I always discover things when I'm ready to receive them & with this post, I was ready to receive. Thank you so much! You're a fabulous story teller : ) <3 Sheryl

Unknown said...

this is so valuable and inspiring. Have been doubting whether or not to take the leap, but this is definitely helping! keep on creating, it helps so many out here