Follow the journey of a freelance video editor and blogger living in Los Angeles, as she navigates the rocky road of being a solopreneur, and continues to enjoy a healthy and fit lifestyle on a budget.
Hey all! I wrote a guest post on VolleyCamp Hermosa. Check it out!
You’ve probably seen this before on social media: Someone posts an article about breaking the world’s record for being the youngest person to travel to every country, or how a couple retired at 30, or some other kind of success or achievement, and there will always be that ONE person for sure in the crowd who comments, “it must be nice to (have rich parents, be dual income-earning engineers, (insert some other lucky feature), etc.”
This is a post that has been brewing for quite some time. I wanted to feel ready—although when you’re dealing with the touchy subject of anxiety, does one ever feel ready?
But, Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early, wrote this great post about how she fights anxiety with running—something I do too with running and other kinds of exercise, and that inspired me to talk about my own experience with this fun little character trait. Yes, I was being sarcastic. lol! Although I do think having a sense of humor about one’s own quirky inner workings is half, if not all of the battle in fully accepting yourself!
First, I should mention that no one has ever diagnosed me “officially” with anxiety, nor have I ever taken any kind of medication for it. I’m not against medication at all, and if it came down to it and it really helped my life, I would have no problem doing that.
For me, I just like to experiment with everything else first. Given the fact that it does not debilitate my life, nor does it cause anything more severe (like panic attacks), I think it’s worth it for me to keep trying other things first. Again, absolutely NO JUDGEMENT if you would choose differently, or HAVE chosen differently.
So how is anxiety like the DMV?
I had this epiphany when I was living in Boise. I realize, at least for me, that things I’m anxious about kind of happen one at a time. And once that “problem” is “solved,” I find the next thing to be anxious about. You know when you’re at the DMV and you hear, “(ding), now serving number 130.”
Basically, I NEVER feel NOT anxious about SOMETHING!
Last week, my kitty was just a day or two away from being sent to Rainbow Bridge. He had been sick since I moved back to LA and I tried everything to make him better. Of course, this was front and center in my mind. How could I make this decision? When exactly would I know? What would happen to him…after?
It’s not that other things were going swimmingly in my life, although not bad either, I just couldn’t worry about those things at that moment.
In a matter of hours after deciding his fate, he got better, i.e., he made solid poop. TMI? And the next day he did again, and again…
To an anxious person, when that problem is solved, it literally feels like you won an Oscar. You are elated and free of worry. You feel light and breezy. Whooooo hoooooo! Life is great! But then…
“(ding), now serving number 131.”
“Hmmm, I texted (insert name) and it’s been a couple of days since I heard back. Let me try again.” Silence. “That’s weird…I mean they are probably busy, but I literally just saw them on Facebook at a happy hour with some friends. And BTW, why wasn’t I invited?”
More time goes by.
This is where I unnecessarily start to spiral. Or as some experts call it, “awfulizing” things. ha ha! Love that term! Because it’s so freaking true! I start to replay our last conversation. Did I do something? Say something?
My mind then jumps to how I’ll react once I see them because CLEARLY, we are not friends anymore but still have friends in common. Will I act cold? Hurt? Talk to them? Ignore them? Move on?
But wait, there’s MORE!
Then I start to imagine that our friends in common will turn against me. I won’t get invited to anything anymore. I won’t have any friends. I’ll be lonely a die in my apartment and my cat will eat my eyeballs…
Suddenly I get a text from them…”Hey T! Sorry I’ve been busy but let’s get together for a movie soon!” WHEW!!!!
“(ding), now serving number 132.”
Why Do I Do This?
I have no idea! I suspect it has something to do with control. I think for me, and many people probably, having control, which is really just an illusion anyway, bring some order to the chaos that is living in this topsy turvy world. It literally is almost laughable how systematic and lined up my worries are. I never seem to run out of something to be anxious about. It’s a very deep well, my friends!
I’ve also come to know of another term via Brene Brown I can totally relate to called “foreboding joy.” It’s similar to control in that you somehow think you can “out worry” something bad happening to you. I’m gonna beat the bad thing to the punch. In reality, the joke is on you because you wasted a whole lot of precious time and energy feeling crappy.
Have you ever been scared to fly? There was a time I was. There was a deadly plane crash that killed everyone but one little girl that happened in Detroit (where I grew up) in 1987. I must have watched too much news coverage because for the next several years I was TERRIFIED to fly.
But one day when I was flying I had this thought while I was over in my seat sweating bullets before the plane took off, while the person next to me was happy as a clam and totally relaxed: What I was thinking or what they were thinking had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the mechanics of the plane, the weather, or the skill level of the pilots. God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, was not going to somehow punish me with having the plane crash because I let myself “sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”
Tools That Help Me With Anxiety
While I got over my fear of flying, I still haven’t been able to defeat (yet) anxiety in general. But there are some tools, thankfully, that have helped me over the years, and maybe that can help you too.
It’s still my go-to because it does two things: one, keeps me DOING something other than thinking of what I’m anxious about and two, endorphins. Although it’s funny that anxiety makes me procrastinate with exercise (which is why I like having to be at a class with a set start time) because I want to sit and daydream on how to solve the problem before I do anything else. Spoiler alert Tonya: You NEVER figure it out!
Accept and plan for the “worst case scenario”
I put that in quotes because most are not the worst things that can happen to you. But let’s just say I’m worried that the pain in my side is indeed cancer (because that’s what Dr. Google told me). Well then, I have it and I’ll try to find the best course of treatment and fight like hell. And if I do die, then at least I won’t have to worry about saving for retirement anymore! I did say that I like to have a sense of humor about this, right?
Talk to a trusted friend
I have one or two friends I can confide in where I preface my conversation with, “ok, this is totally my anxious and irrational mind talking but…” It’s important to choose the right friends for this though because I’ve had many-a-friend just say to me, “oh just stop being so sensitive!” or duh, “stop worrying!” Yeah that helps…not at all.
You need friends who are empathetic but won’t let you off the hook either. They are also good people to unload your worst case scenario plans to as well. I personally don’t need anyone to solve a problem that quite frankly, really does not exist. But just talking it out really helps.
Feel, but don’t react
This is a huge one that has improved with age and maturity. I used to act according to how I was feeling about what might happen. Let’s take the friend not texting back, for example. In the past, I might have acted passive-aggressive if they finally did text me back, as if they had done something wrong. “Ha! I’ll show you!”
Now I only respond to what is real. If that friend texted me and said, “I don’t like that way you said bla bla bla…” then I can address that. Someday I’d like to not feel the feeling, but #babysteps!
Perspective and gratitude
Checking in and finding ways to put things in perspective is also a way to help with anxiety. I dare to say that anxiety is kind of a selfish feeling because it’s so “self” centered. Not that you shouldn’t be focusing on self-care, but removing yourself from the center of the universe does help alleviate those agitated feelings that often come with feeling anxious. Perhaps that friend not texting you back just found out some bad news and that’s why you haven’t heard from them.
I also watch uplifting/cute animal/comedy videos, read articles about struggles/worries that I’m feeling so that I know I’m not alone, write in my journal, and honestly just try to get busy with living instead of daydreaming or ruminating—and man I have a very active and creative imagination…for better or for worse!
What about meditating?
I could lie and say that it was part of my everyday practice of alleviating anxiety, but I have not yet mastered it yet. I go in and out of doing it consistently. I have found, for me personally, movement is way more helpful, even if it’s just a walk. But it’s not to say that this isn’t helpful to other people or will be to me someday!
Dammit, I knew this would be a long article!
Soooo readers, can you relate at all? What other tips/tools do you have to help with anxiety?
There are some things financially that I just have to deal with: taking my cat to the vet the other day, car maintenance, rent, food (no Tonya, Chipotle doesn’t count), utilities, etc.
Then there is the version of me that has champagne taste on a beer budget. But I think to myself, “is NOT buying anything I want or like putting me back into a scarcity mindset?” One that if you believe in The Law of Attraction, would actually have the opposite effect of what I’m going for, and that is having plenty of work and projects coming in, and earning what I want to be earning.
As an example, here are some things I bought recently that are definitely NOT needs: My first tattoo, a plane ticket home to Detroit (only $166 so not bad, and cheap overall since I pretty much just chill with the folks, and OK fine go to Cedar Point), an Airbnb on the Island of Kauai after I used points for a plane ticket (thankfully), 6 candles from a local street fair to stock up, a couple dinners out, and fancy vodka.
That was just in May. And that was just what I could remember off the top of my head.
And I WANT more. Oh yeah, I said it. I want more!
For instance, I’m thinking about how I could expand my video equipment to make even better videos. Or travel to some new places to network, attend conferences, take amazing photos, or speak.
But, I can feel that panicky feeling of, “whoa girl, slow the f down! What makes you think you are in ANY position to be doing more than what you are doing?”
As you can see, I’m constantly at war with myself.
Because I also feel somewhat the scarcity of time, and NOT wanting to miss opportunities or be able to follow my passions and dreams!
I feel like since last June, I’ve been the ballsiest I’ve ever been in my life. It feels good and it’s built my confidence, but when do I need to be more realistic?
In this post I mentioned that I’m really happy with the work I’m currently doing, and the people I’m working with. Beach volleyball classes are part of that, and thankfully, because it fills my other big rocks of being social and getting “out there,” and health and fitness.
Another big rock is being back in LA and living by the beach, which costs more in living expenses.
If I really care about all those things, then I need to PRIORITIZE the spending I’m doing to support that dream lasting as long as it can (hopefully forever). That means passing up dinners out, but finding a way to still hang out with friends, go on the trips I’m going on, but do so as frugally as possible (meaning I might have to pass up that bucket list item of taking a helicopter ride in Kauai if I don’t have the funds to support it). Using my iPhone and equipment I ALREADY have to make awesome videos. Not burning two candles at once, to make them last longer.
That’s not scarcity, that’s being smart, right? I admit it’s not always easy to see the difference.
Here’s a description of the snowball method of paying off debt.
Create a list of your obligations ranked lowest to highest balance.
Make minimum payments on all of them except the lowest one.
Pay as much as you can on that one each month until it is paid in full.
Add all of that money to the monthly payment you were making on the next lowest debt and continue doing so until it’s repaid.
Repeat the process until all are paid off.
It’s a logical approach, but will snowballing debt work for you?
Debt Snowball Pros
The biggest pro in play here is you will see progress much faster than with many other methods of dealing with debt. You’ll attack each successive debt with progressively more money and when you’re done, you can begin saving all of it. After all, your budget will have operated just fine without that cash for the entire repayment period. What’s more, it feels good to watch those debts being eradicated. Finally, the debt snowball method also protects your credit rating, because you’ll pay all of your debts in full and on time.
Debt Snowball Cons
You could actually wind up paying more on your debt with this method. If you leave the largest loan until last — and it has the highest interest rate — you’ll wind up paying more to resolve it than you would if you approached your obligations in one of the three different ways we’ll outline below.
Take a Consolidation Loan
Depending upon the number of debts you have and the amount of time it would take to deal with them using the snowball method, a consolidation loan, like those offered by Consolidation Plus might pay your debts off sooner and at a lower interest rate.
Employ a Debt Management/Debt Relief Firm
In certain situations, working with a debt settlement company like Freedom Debt Relief to manage your repayment process or negotiate reduced payoff amounts might be a better play. You’ll often resolve the situation sooner and at a lower cost than with the debt snowball approach.
However, that latter methodology will have a negative effect on your credit score. Of course, if things have already gotten pretty far out of hand, it’s likely your credit score has already dropped. In that instance, the potential savings might make it worthwhile for you.
Debt Avalanche Method
This plan works in much the same way as the debt snowball, except you attack your debts from highest to the lowest interest rate. While the avalanche results in the same ultimate outcome as the snowball, you’ll pay less in interest because you’ll eradicate the most expensive loans first.
However, this approach can also take longer to show your first result if that high interest rate also coincides with your highest balance. This could lead you to grow frustrated with the process and abandon it.
Avalanche vs. Snowball — Which One Is Best?
According to Forbes.com, several different academic institutions ran studies on this subject. Their findings indicated the snowball method, even while potentially more expensive, consistently showed better results than the avalanche.
The publication quotes David Gal, one of the professors who ran the study at the Kellogg School of Management; “We found that closing debt accounts — independent of the dollar balances of the closed accounts — predicted successful debt elimination at any point in the debt settlement program.”
Translated into English; paying off lower balances quickly keeps you motivated for the long term.
So, will snowballing debt work for you?
The best answer is — it depends. If you have the extra cash to put toward the first debt, you can get traction and watch your debts melt away one by one.
With that said, the avalanche method or a consolidation loan will deliver the same result at a lower cost. Meanwhile, if you can’t afford to pay your debts and your credit score won’t let you qualify for a consolidation loan, debt relief may well be your best solution.
First, I want to thank everyone for their comments on my last blog about figuring out whether to (continue to) pursue freelancing, or spend more time/energy into looking for full-time work.
I figured the answers might vary, and they sure did.
No idea what this picture means. Just thought it was cool. lol!
First, let me address one common suggestion I saw in many of the comments: work full-time but build a freelance business on the side. In order not to get too wordy with my posts, I sometimes leave little details out, and that was one I should have probably addressed.
I’m, admittedly, too lazy to think about doing that. I actually tried to keep freelancing going at my last full-time job, and even without having a commute, I found myself NOT wanting to do any kind of side work on my time off, with the exception of this blog (which I don’t really make money from anyway).
I did the occasional video here and there, but it was for fun. Maybe if I was in my 20s I would have the energy and drive to do this, but I know me well enough to know that with full-time, my “downtime” would be filled with a lot of fun, physical activities like beach volleyball, running, and hiking.
Another suggestion from some of you would be to get a part-time job that has benefits. Trader Joe’s is one that comes to mind. I love the idea, but time is something that I’m feeling short of with the current projects I have.
Since I already kind of knew my answer when I wrote the post (funny how therapeutic writing can be), many of you got really close when you said, “look for full-time, but freelance until then and be very picky what you take.”
Well, I was kind of paraphrasing.
IF I made a certain amount freelancing and IF I’m enjoying the work and the clients, then I would love to stay freelance. The second best option is working full-time, but remotely for a client/project I really like. In fact, even if I did take a full-time job, one of the things I would be looking for is some flexibility in schedule and/or the ability to work from home as much as possible. Hard to find though at many corporations.
So, the plan is this: I’m going to keep freelancing for now, BUT, I need to carve out dedicated time to LOOK for full-time work. I’m also going to continue networking for freelance opportunities to a certain degree, without dedicating all my time to it. So, showcasing videos on social media, learning new skills, keeping my reel/resume up-to-date, etc. All which apply to both scenarios either way.
I’m being picky about what freelance projects I take up to make sure I’m allocating time to the right priorities. For instance I had someone reach out to me to do 4 videos, but at a very low price. I said “no.” Time is JUST as valuable as money.
The biggest skillset that has to be mastered is time management. The last two weeks I was not very effective with time and I need to create my own boundaries to stay effective and productive. For instance, I was doing far too much computer work “late” (and late for me means 9 pm) and then I was too wired to get good sleep, so I was a space cadet and groggy and not very effective the next day.
So that’s it! That’s the plan for now. I guess maybe a little of the best of both worlds?
I’ve thought about writing this post for several weeks, but wasn’t sure how to write it without offending or alienating current or potential clients and/or potential full-time employers.
I still don’t, honestly, so I’ll just try to keep the information as practical as possible.
I’m torn between putting all-out effort into freelancing, vs putting all-out effort (while still earning some freelance income) into looking for a full-time job.
If you would have asked me this questions several months ago, the answer would be a resounding, “look for full-time work.”
But now I’m not so sure…
I currently have two “steady” freelance gigs. Together they total less than 2k per month. Depending on the month and some other freelance work I can pick up, I may make some more. For instance, last month I edited a series of video for The Financial Gym for financial literacy month, so that helped.
With everything, those projects take up a lot of my time. But here is the thing: I’ve never been happier with the work I’m doing, the projects I’m working on, the things I’m learning, and the people I’m working with. I also feel my clients are really happy with my work, and express a lot of appreciation. It’s the little things…
But…it’s not enough to live on long-term (or even medium-term for that matter).
Luckily, I saved a lot of money in the past to keep me floating, but I’m not financially independent, and as frugal as I generally am, I like to not have to worry about saying “yes” to lunch with a friend because I’m operating from a ridiculously tight budget. And thus far, I admittedly have done a really shitty job of being even remotely close to staying in budget with my current situation.
How is freelancing different now than the first time I freelanced?
Just a refresher. I was thrown into the world of freelancing after the company I was working for for eight years was bought by another company in 2008…right at the start of the recession. A producer who had done some freelancing for that company sort of “took me under his wing” to give me work. But I knew NOTHING about freelancing (and at the time was not involved in the PF community), and I paid the price.
I relied completely on him to find me work, and at the same time, was blowing through my savings VERY quickly with my newfound obsession with beach volleyball and taking classes, private lessons, and going out to eat ALL the time. And to be honest, it was tough working with him and I didn’t enjoy a lot of the projects I was working on.
The full-time experience.
I thought my life had changed for the better when I took what I thought was my dream job several years ago, AND with a killer commute, something you don’t find very often in LA.
At first it was challenging, but a good challenge for me. Everyone was supportive and I felt like I rose to the occasion. But in that time I noticed things. People who were hired before me (and not even long before me) were dropping like flies. The turnover rate was insane.
Still, I thought I wasn’t going to be a statistic and brushed it off as a, “millennial thing.”
This is where I want to be careful. Although you can’t deny what is right in front of you and actual facts and statistics about a company, I accept 100% responsibility for MY experience there. Whether things were my fault or not my fault, it doesn’t really matter.
What DOES matter is what I learned, and how I can take that experience and build upon it to do better next time, whatever the next time looks like.
But this is the thing that makes me sketchy of joining the full-time world again. I don’t think it was just this company that had these problems such as high turnover. I found the post-recession corporate world to be so different than pre-recession.
As a whole, from what I’ve gathered from my own experience, listening to business podcasts, or just asking people I know, is that:
Hours seem to be longer than ever
Pay to be more stagnant
Millennials (and perhaps every generation now to some extent) don’t want to invest their heart and soul into a company because they either:
A) Plan on leaving soon to something bigger and better
B) Don’t care that much because upper management doesn’t seem to care about them
Upper management touts certain values and mission statements (and blasts the office with artwork to show that), but doesn’t actually live by those values
Upper management doesn’t seem to invest in individual contributors, because no one seems to stay very long anyway
If I asked 10 friends if they liked their current full-time job, 9 out of 10 say they either hate it or it’s causing them a lot of stress and sleepless nights, and/or a long commute. Not just didn’t like, but HATED. What is happening?
One friend told me he is content at his job. He said it has its moments, but otherwise it was OK. I told him to hang on to that job for dear life, because if you are even remotely content at your job anymore, you won the golden ticket.
But, on the flip side of all of that, when I had a full-time job I (personally) had:
Benefits (and holy shit balls can this run a lot per month for freelancers)
Camaraderie (although less of an issue for me since I don’t mind working alone)
MUCH easier taxes
So it’s clear that both situations have their pros and cons. Whoever coined (pun intended) the phrase: “Do what you love and the money will follow” or “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” was clearly a dreamer whose aspirations were well-intentioned, but not practical for 99% of us.
I’m REALLY enjoying what I’m doing right now, but financially it’s not enough. Believe me if I had all the money in the world, the decision would be crystal clear. But maybe it could be???
The ocean view across the street from my apartment.
Got everything into one cube…again!
Sorry my Feb recap is a bit overdue, as we are going on our second week of March, but I’ve had, you know, just a couple small things going on in my life. lol.
Well, I’m home!!! It really does feel good to be back, although the feeling was a tad bit anti-climactic, since I was so exhausted from moving. I’m just now starting to settle into a routine and feel like I’m returning to normal. Plus, it wasn’t like LA welcomed me with bright sunshine and warm weather. It’s been quite cool and rainy here, although that is starting to improve as well.
Enjoying a Saint George, Utah street fair on the road.
Overall, everything went well with the move. My stuff got packed up OK, my car ran smoothly (but I had a $1,400 bill from Volkswagen before I left-ugh!), and the roads were clear, albeit wet and rainy in some areas the second day.
My friend Dave flew up to Boise and drove with me, and this time we took I-15, even though it looks to be out of the way, instead of driving down deserted two-lane highways in the middle of boring Nevada. The scenery was much more interesting and the amenities were more plentiful. We stopped in Saint George, Utah (a place I’ve actually been to a couple times) for the night and did a little wandering around town that evening.
Arriving in rainy LA.
The apartment I’m living in is a spacious and modern 2 bed/2bath. What’s funny is the floors are literally exactly the same as my old floors at my last LA apartment. It’s the most upgraded place I’ve ever lived in, and it has a gigantic deck. The best part is it’s located across the street from the beach. We only have a little peek-a-boo view from the balcony of the ocean though because there are other condos and apartments in front of us blocking the view.
Walking and biking is easy here, and it’s just a 1o-minute bike ride to where I play beach volleyball.
Apartment living room.
Right now, I’m still creating a routine for myself. This past month I have not been looking for full-time work at all, although some of my contracting hours have increased. But it’s not a lot of money for the long haul.
I have my cardio covered with beach runs and beach volleyball, but I’m trying to find a way to do strength training. The gyms here are SUPER expensive, so I just might have to find a way to weight train on my own. It’s not like I don’t have the equipment, it’s just that I find it hard to motivate to strength train on my own. I need someone to push me.
The one last monkey on my back this month is taxes. I haven’t even started, and even though I have an accountant and my appointment is March 30th, it’s going to take a LOT of organizing of finances before then, and I only have a couple weekends left to get it done.
I think/hope once that is done at the end of March my to-do list will be a lot shorter.
Finances is also something I need to focus more strongly on. I’ve been a little careless these past two months and need to reign that in a bit a lot.
I think one of the nicest things about being back in LA is being DONE with the pain of moving to a new state, the longing for 6 months of that time to be back in LA and feeling depressed about it, and making it happen to move back. I’m really, really hoping to just get back into simple living mode, doing the things I love to do in life: exercising, being outside, sipping wine on the balcony with friends, BBQ’ing, etc.
I feel like I’ve been in a state of flux for almost an entire year. I may not know what will happen with work, but I just want to feel a sense of peace for being home.