A friend of mine took this photo of me over a year ago and a lot has changed since then.
Have you ever heard of the saying, don’t look back, you’re not going there? Well, that’s one the many positive mantras I hold on to. I do my best to avoid thinking too much about my past so that I could keep moving forward.
But alas, I am human and there are times when I do look to the past. Especially when I come across old photos on Facebook that notifies me that One Year Ago I took this photo. So, I counteract my original thought and look back with the intention of reflecting how far I’ve come. And damn, if you told me one year ago, that I’d be where I am today, I would not believe you. I have gone farther beyond my expectations in the last year.
When I took this photo…
I was working with a team to build a new company. The concept was great, but the execution was abysmal. The mission of the company was to sell jewelry (i.e. rings, bracelets, necklaces, and chokers like the ones in the photo above) and donate a portion of the proceeds back to causes that our team unanimously cares about (i.e. Syrian refugees, fresh water solutions in third world countries, and more). While I publicly announced that I left in good nature, I actually left because I was fed up with the toxic energy in the team dynamic, and the disrespect I endured for months until I finally put my foot down and left.
I was convinced that this company would be very successful. I was convinced that my co-founders truly believed in the mission of the company as much as I did. I also was verbally promised rights to the company (but never solidified legally). I sacrificed working with a solid corporate job to take a chance on this startup. But in the end, I was paid five thousand dollars over the course of three months.
While that sounds like a lot, let me put things in perspective for you. The $5,000 in three months meant that I was paid approximately $400 a week. Considering the fact that I worked well over 80 hours a week for three months, I was technically paid $5 an hour.
It was ridiculous…
I barely paid my student debt. Even with my second job as a freelance writer and photographer, debt drowned me. I could not fathom living on my own, and there were months where my boyfriend Mark was kind enough to lend me money to make ends meat.
But why did I stay? I stayed because I was promised rights to and ownership of the company. Meaning, in the best case scenario, with the company breaking even and making profits by the three-month deadline, I would be making more than the $5,000 that was promised to me.
I hate that I gave the company, the team, and the verbal promise the benefit of the doubt. I was naive to assume that everyone in the world has good intentions, but I learned and I grew stronger. Therefore, I don’t regret it.
I can’t regret it because I’ve learned so much. I learned about the value of legal agreements, and how important it is to get everything in writing. Because of my experience, I also learned about my value and how important my time, effort, work, and dedication is.
FIVE DOLLARS AN HOUR WILL NEVER CUT IT AGAIN.
I learned about myself and what I deserved. I learned about my capacity to work hard and my value. I seriously asked myself, is my time worth five dollars an hour? The answer, hell no. And since I left the company in December, I’ve been on a search for an environment (or a company) where I would be genuinely happy. I was on a search for a place where I could utilize what I have to offer, and continue to grow as an individual because of the amazing minds around me.
Forward one year…
Today I work with a globally-recognized Fortune 500 company as a technical writer and coordinator, and I am immensely grateful and happy with my life. I am proud to be working with and learning from people who are the best in the global industry, and strive to be as good as them. I still find myself in disbelief at times.
As a freelancer, I hated the idea of ever “confining” myself to a 9 to 5 job. But I realized, that it was not about being confined. It was not about being trapped, or limited. (Words like these are toxic for the mind. Words like these kept people like me from a peaceful life.)
The fear of working with a company that has set hours, vacations, salaries, etc. came from my fear that I would not be able to travel and blog as much as I wanted. Little did I know that I would find a place that encourages traveling, gives a good amount of time off, and rewards their people for doing amazing work.
I am as free as I want to be. Shifting from the freelance mentality to the corporate mentality is all about a paradigm shift. Luckily, I am able to keep the best of both worlds by working for a corporation while maintaining my freelance company on weekends. I get to continue to do what I love — which is to write, organize, and coordinate — just in a different kind of environment.
I am finally able to take a breath from drowning in debt for so long. The notion that I can pay off my student loans and credit card debt is incredible. I am able to do the baseline of these things, meanwhile have enough cushion and freedom to continue to do the things I love (i.e. traveling, going to Disneyland, maintaining my photography side jobs, and eating at new restaurants).
My gratitude is endless.
The weight I carried on my shoulders since I graduated is alleviated, and it is surreal to think that I can sit here, and blog, and come back to my roots, and not have to be anxious about my finances, or worried about my work stability, or imprisoned by the promises of the people around me that I would be okay as long as I wait it out.
I am in control. The best part of all of this, the evolution of my being, is that I am now in full control of my life and how I live it. Where I am now is a true testament to everything I had to go through to get here.
If you have to take one thing from today’s blog (aside from the quote above), please let this serve as a reminder that dark times don’t last. Hard times come and go, but stay persistence is key and better days are coming.
best wishes for your journey forward,