Don't Quit Your Day Job (or your Day Dream).
me, waiting for the magical net to appear after leaping into my dreams.
I have a confession to make: ladyboss is not my full-time job. In fact, I don’t make any money from it (yet). I have a full-time 9-5 (but, as those of us with “9-5’s” know, it’s never truly just 9-5) I do in addition to ladyboss and my other passion projects. That’s right - I’m not living the #girlboss dream. I’ll let you pick your jaw up off the floor before I continue.
Right now, I’m living the #girlboss reality. And I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s a reality we don’t talk about enough. It’s the “in-between” that feels like the forever. The balancing of what you've got to do (because you’ve got bills to pay) with what you love to do.
But Ashley (you’re probably saying to yourself) - the whole ladyboss brand is around empowering women to follow their dreams and make a positive difference in the world. You’re 100% right. It is.
And that’s why I want to talk about this. I think we’re doing people a disservice by not. By not always being real behind our posts. How many of us see posts on instagram and facebook that make it seem like everyone else (but us) is following their dreams full-time? Raise your hand, say yeah (yeah!).
I see them, too. And it sometimes fools me into feeling like a fraud.
The quotes, pinterest boards, posed instagram pics, and facebook posts that say you need to “jump,” “go for it,” and “put it all on the line” in order to succeed. “Having a Plan B is a plan to fail.” And that that’s the only way to do it?
God knows, I’m a lover of inspirational quotes and am the definition of an optimist. I truly believe people can achieve their dreams and hard work pays off. But I have a huge problem with this “just leap” narrative. We’ve been telling people that the only way to be considered legitimate or successful in what you’re doing (or what you want to do), the only way to truly follow your dreams, is to put it all on the line and “go for it.”
Go for it? Uhhh...what about my bills? Student loans, rent, car payment, etc.? I feel like we use these vague inspirational terms without always thinking of the practicality behind it. And I’m guilty of it, too! For the longest time, I sold myself a narrative that maybe I wasn’t the creative person I thought I was because I wasn’t willing to put everything on the line. But the reality is, you’re not any less of a creative person just because you’re not able to quit everything today to chase after a dream full-time.
You’re a human being with bills to pay, possibly mouths to feed, a 401k to probably contribute to, and savings to try and build.
Could you cut all of your expenses, move in with your parents, and sacrifice your entire personal life to try and “succeed” at your dream faster? Sure. And lots of people do. But I don’t think you have to. And I also think it’s okay to not want to do all of those things. It doesn’t mean you’re not also busting your ass going after what you love.
After all the women I’ve spoken to, I can promise you this; there is not only one way to succeed. I also think it’s okay to like your day job. I've had jobs I hate. And guess what? They sucked the life out of me like a vampire and left me too drained to put anything towards my passions.
Maybe other people don't feel this way. Maybe it's just me. But I have a feeling it's not. I'm in a rewarding day job now and I immediately got a feeling that that was going to prevent me from working towards my dreams because I'd be too comfortable. I'd get golden handcuffs and be fine working for someone else rather than trying to pave my own path.
But guess what? My fire has only gotten stronger because I feel recharged and fulfilled from my day job. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to suffer to succeed. I have never felt more creative. And of course I wonder and yearn and pine towards working for myself and living my dreams full-time. But I think you can keep working towards your day dream while also not feeling shame around having to keep your day job.
Here’s the thing you don’t see on social media - a lot of these people who seem like they’re following their dreams full-time - they probably had a day job for a long time before that. They might still have a day job. But that’s not the fun stuff to talk about or show. From the women I interviewed and talked to, they strategically worked towards taking that leap. Nothing is an overnight success.
We don’t always know the full story and we have to live ours. Stay inspired and empowered but don't compare. It's hard. And that's okay too. It’s okay to want more for yourself but be happy with where you are. You are a living contradiction and that's okay. You can plan for your future and live in the now.
What I’m getting at is this; You are not any less legitimate or successful because you have a day job. You are not any less talented or passionate. You are not any less ANYTHING. You are a human being with expenses.
I think we need to lessen the shame around creative people (or any people who are trying to start their own thing and follow a passion) with day jobs and provide more practical advice to people.
It’s more fun to tell the story of “jump and the net will appear.” But more often than not, it’s not the reality.
Some people do take a big risk, take that leap, and it pays off beautifully. And I love studying from those people and learning from those people. But more often than not, it took people working a little bit every day, applying what they learned, and putting one foot in front of the other to take small, actionable steps. And I love learning from those people even more. I think we need to talk about that more. I think the practical advice and sharing what’s worked and what’s NOT worked for you is just as important as the inspirational posts.
There are a lot of narratives we write for ourselves and I think we often forget that we are the authors of these narratives. There is not one path or definition for “success.”
So what am I saying? I’m saying don’t quit your day job. Don’t be fooled by the glossy social media posts. Don’t think you’re not legitimate because you like stability, or have to have your day job right now. I’m here to tell you; it doesn’t matter. I want to start telling it more like it is; my name is Ashley and I have a day job in addition to doing ladyboss and there’s no shame in that. I have a feeling there a lot more people like me out there.