We’re All Just Doing the Best We Can: What I’ve Achieved in ¼ of a Century

It’s easy for me to get down on myself for being lazy, indecisive, or anxious and feel like I’m treading water, going in circles, or just not going forward as much as I “should” be.

I turned 25 last year and decided not to focus on the LONG list of things I still want to do, and instead appreciate some of the things I’ve accomplished already.

This isn’t to say that you need to accomplish things for your life to be meaningful, or important, or joyful. I just want to help myself recognize how far I’ve come, and maybe it can help you appreciate the things you’ve come through and ways you’ve grown as well.

  • Went to Bolivia and Paraguay through a college trip
  • I got a BA in teaching
  • Taught 5th grade for a year
  • Left teaching
  • Got a job in NZ and lived there for 8 months
  • Solo traveled Thailand for a month, scary
  • Started to come out as bi
  • Actually started dating when I was 23 years old
  • Was in my first long-term relationship last year
  • Dealt with many of my own issues-including realizing I have anxiety and starting therapy
  • Made some of the most wonderful friends and have worked on maintaining those friendships
  • Learned more about myself throughout everything: degrees I don’t use, decisions I regret, fights and making up with friends, dating both good and bad people, challenges and periods of rest, and periods of boredom.
  • Spent years learning and committing to my religious beliefs and trying to be a better person
  • Spent years questioning and changing those beliefs and trying to be a better person outside of them
  • Learned not to hate myself
  • Learned to love most of myself, and be kinder.
  • Questioned and started exploring my sexuality and gender
  • Found labels and categories that help me better understand and describe who I am.
  • Started exploring my body and what feels good to me
  • Got a tattoo…and worked on my fear of commitment 😉
  • Grew some plants, inside and out. Being able to grow a couple plants in the ground outside feels like a huge accomplishment.
  • Got paid to do illustration work and started taking it more seriously, this blog is part of documenting and staying focused on that!
  • Left MANY jobs for various reasons, I’ve had something like 11-14 jobs in the decade since I turned 16.
  • I’ve worked on taking better care of my body, did a half marathon, several yoga challenges, and have gotten better at cooking
  • Finally took a real dance class, I hope to return in the future when I have more funds
  • Opened a Roth IRA and started putting in $50/month
  • Had enough savings to be able to help out some family with a big financial opportunity

That’s a pretty random, and meandering, and very un-chronological list. But putting it all down like that helps me remember how I got to where I am now, and all the work that went into it.

I may not have a ton of money, or a perfect relationship, or an organized career-but I’ve learned and grown and am continuing to do so with lovely people by my side.

And that’s enough for now.

Two months in

Being a freelancer, at least in illustration, is a very path-less job. Looking back at my first two months most of my decisions and struggles have been related to that. It is both freeing and overwhelming to have so little structure, and to have to make that structure myself.

From basic stuff like-should I work set hours? When am I most productive? Should I instead focus on a set amount accomplished each day instead?

To bigger things like- should I focus on personal growth and projects more? Or making money as quickly as possible with client projects? Should I work on as many diverse projects and methods as I can and see what works? Or commit to trying one at a time to give it a better chance and more focus?

I still don’t have answers to most of those questions, and many more, but I am starting to narrow down some things that do or don’t work for me. For instance, using a checklist for the day is better than just having an hourly schedule.

Overall, I feel like I’m headed in the general direction that I want to go and am more confident and professional than I was just two months ago.

The biggest thing that has made me more confident was getting two client jobs and completing one already. That felt huge to me and I didn’t feel ready or “good enough” when I first got the job-but now that I’ve completed it I know a little bit more of what I’m capable of and have learned more about illustration in general.

This month (May 2019) I’m hoping to make more of my plans for the summer-this hinges on whether I get a booth at a local Farmer’s Market or not. I also want to finish up a personal project about selkies that I started months ago.

We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Log 1- Quitting My Day Job

I quit my job.

In a few weeks I’ll be officially jobless, or officially a freelance artist, depending on how you look at it. Which is exciting and something I’ve been looking forward to for years! And also, very terrifying and uncertain.

Am I ready? I don’t know.

I’m doing it anyway though, so I guess we’ll find out.

I have been researching and drawing and daydreaming and practicing my skills and feeling uncertain ever since I decided to become a freelance artist back in 2015 or 2016. I finally reached the point where I have a decent amount of knowledge and skill, enough savings for a few months, and enough determination and impatience to just GO FOR IT ALREADY.

At the very least the next few months will give me a chance to focus heavily on it and grow and learn a ton before I have to get another “day job”.

Currently my main goals are to:

-Polish my portfolio before my job ends

-Get my business license and apply for the Farmer’s Market in Chehalis

-Finish the art I’m making for my friend’s video game (I can’t wait to share it!)

-Continue doing three comics a week to practice my storytelling skills

-Create a zine about PNW history for a contest

Right now, I figure if anything will cause me to fail, it will be lack of focus. I’m currently struggling on my days off to get hours of undistracted time in. If I want to get everything done I’m gonna have to get up and get to work-EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I would ask for advice-but I’ve already read far more articles on being “productive” than any one person needs. I just need to commit fully and actually follow their advice!

The first steps are:

  1. Wake up at a consistent time
  2. Plan my tasks the night before
  3. Block out the time period for work
  4. Put my phone and any distractions far away until it is over

So starting tomorrow morning I’ll be up at 7AM and working 8-11:30AM before heading to nannying. By the end of that block of time I should have been able to research and map out a rough draft for the zine I’m making. And IF I do that I’ll go ahead and let myself relax after work, instead of being caught in the cycle of not doing enough, and then feeling too tired and guilty to make up for it.

Despite my worry about not being focused enough-I truly am excited and thankful that I have the chance to give illustration a chance at all!

Wherever the next months bring me, it’ll be worth all the stress and hard work. 🙂