The Strength of a Good Start

I find that it generally takes a lot of strength to start something and to end something. There are always going to be ups and downs in between the beginning and the end, but the piece that always seems to give me the most hesitation is beginning and knowing when to just say “I did my best.”

I spent about two years at the most inspiring job I have ever had. Even though I’m not still there, I did have the opportunity to meet some incredible individuals with backgrounds that only books of mine were made of until then. I started having conversations with one of those incredible people while he was off doing crazy, inspirational things like traveling the world and making use of his passion and talent. At one point, I wrote him “Sometimes, I wish I had a cooler existence…did things like travel the world, teaching something that I was passionate about. I suppose I will live vicariously through you.”  That is a direct quote from me to you. I found out about 6 months after I wrote that, “live vicariously through you” is NOT something you want to say to someone who has pursued with vigor that which no one thinks they can or should do. Now I know. I have wiped that entire sentence from my vocabulary.

To be fair, I felt completely hopeless right then. What I want to do is travel the world. What I am doing is sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. I have family and friends to please by remaining somewhat normal. Is there anything wrong with that? No. I’m providing a solid living for myself and making people around me happy- I’m staying in the order of things as I was taught to do by very hardworking parents. I have the same paycheck each month. I am working for a solid company. I have rent to pay, I have private student loans that no government will ever cover, car payments and cable payments and dog payments and…phew! I get exhausted just thinking about all those damn payments.

I read back through that and I think to myself “holy crap, I won’t be free of the majority of this for at least 15 years. I CAN’T travel the world until I’m over 40!”

Or will I?

Do I have a lot of debt? Yup. Is it scary and gross all at the same time? Yup. Is going against the grain of what is considered a “normal” lifestyle the most horrifying experience I could ever really conjure other than being held hostage or bungee jumping? Um, hell yes.

But then something wonderful happened. I got the following response to my hopelessness, “Do it, girl!!”

I‘m not sure what your first thought was upon reading that, but mine was a resounding “how?” I’m an independent woman. I pay my own bills and I’m proud of it. But even if we just took out the Americanized factors- say I didn’t have rent or car payments or cable or even my dog. I would still need to make about $1700/month to eat cheap, pay my loans, and (hopefully) buy a tent to pitch on the beach. That’s a scary amount of money to have to make FREELANCE. I mean…how is that even possible???

But then, these e-mails back and forth became my sounding board for just how much I was selling myself short.

Q: How much freelance are you doing right now?

A: None

Q: But you have so many passions. Music, food, running, travel…

A: No one will pay me to write about that

Q: With that attitude I can see why

A: Okay, maybe you have a point

These conversations continued to progress for several months before I was finely like, “you know what? I DO have good ideas and I WILL be living on a beach by the time I’m 31 because I’m going to START something new and it is going to pay me to have my own lifestyle.

To be even less afraid (and to be sure before I started on this venture) I broke it all down for myself:

3-4 solid freelance gigs will pay me that 1700/month that I need to live on my beach. Less scary still is that WITH taxes, it only adds up to about 24,000/year. That’s less than half of what I make at my current job- the one that gets me all the things like cable and chocolate.

Will I be living minimally to get by on that? No doubts. Will it make me happy? Very, very. Am I bringing my dog? Yes, so we should make that closer to 1750/month.

This did, however, take me nearly a year to conclude. I still haven’t told many people this. Er… hi mom, hi dad. I’m sorry, but I’m sure the beach and  will be very happy together. Really.

As I stated at the beginning, getting started is one of the toughest parts. However, this is me starting something new and hopefully learning a bit in the process. I’m hoping that by the time I’m ready to “end” the journey that gets me to my beach, I’ve become a better person, gained a bit more confidence in my abilities, and done some super crazy/random/amazing things. Time will tell, but I’ve already taken care of at least half of the most difficult part. For now, I’m all about the journey and my ultimate destination. And maybe $1750/month in freelance.


  1. You have no idea how excited I am to read this coming from you, Aliy! $1750? 3 or 4 freelance clients? Am I correct that you’re nearly halfway there already? I’ve got a feeling that you’re going to make this happen more quickly than you even realize. Mojitos on the beach sound pretty stellar . . . hope I’m invited to come visit 🙂

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