For as long as I can remember, each new interest of mine has blossomed into a side hustle. Attending photography camp in 6th grade turned into selling notecards and landscapes at local art festivals around my hometown. Snapping portraits of my friends quickly grew into a booming photography business serving graduating seniors across the Southeast. Journaling turned into a blog. Hopping on the phone with my mentor to advise on growing his digital brand inevitably evolved into a 12-week bespoke coaching program for solopreneurs, educating tech founders on how to build their web and brand strategy from the ground up. I mean you guys... give me free time and inspiration and I just might start a podcast. Hah!
I want to be honest about my experience navigating these hustles, though. At each point along the way, I quite literally never intended on turning these side projects into anything full-time. Maybe, one day. But in the same seasons of working my booty off editing photos, advising my brand coaching clients, and trying to empower the heck out of each of you following along, I was also navigating my young professional experiences, just like you.
Despite my side businesses and passion for writing, I still had to show up and service clients at that summer internship. Even with inbound requests for web design coming in left and right, I had another business to grow and design for first. I've always had friends to connect with, memories to be made, and a new brand to get hype about - but there's also other work to do. And I need you to know that it's hard for me to balance, too.
The following pieces of advice are disciplines and ideas I've genuinely put into practice, tried and failed at, or am learning to implement as we speak. I love my job. I literally love where I work, what I do, and who I do it with. But working on Passages and writing about what I love to write about fires me up in ways I need just as desperately as I need a steady paycheck and a company to call home. The future is wide open and I cannot tell you what to do or how long to keep at it before making a change. But for me, these tips are helping me do both - as best and sustainably as I can.
sweatshirt by Ink Courage
Call it COVID or my generalized perfectionism but as of late, finding ways to stay grounded and differentiate my morning during quarantine has been frustratingly ineffective. I often find myself waking up and heading downstairs to make a cup of coffee and then *blink* it's time to get to work. Where does the time go?
So, I asked the pros. YOU. Thank you so much for sending me all of your favorite morning habits and routines. Without fail, crowdsourcing these tidbits from all of you have always not only produced some of my favorite blog posts (see: I asked everyone I knew what planner they used. Here is what I learned.), but also a chance to get to know each of you a little better and learn SO much myself. I hold these virtual connections very dearly, and never ever take your advice for granted. Thank you for helping me!
Without further ado, THE Morning Routine - a crowdsourced compilation of morning habits, tips, and tricks to stay grounded and full of life before embarking on your next long day of... staying home. Enjoy!
Let it be shitty.
Even if it is not shitty in the absolute slightest, my friend, let it be so. Because here's what's going to happen. No matter what you start to do, eventually, in the assumption you keep doing that thing, you will get better. You're doing of the thing will get faster, easier, and more intuitive. Elements which may have taken days or months to finish off will take hours or minutes. You will feel confident in your capabilities, by the nature of proving to your own self that you can keep at something long enough to not fall over. Steady progress yields steady results. It's simple math.
But, for the sake of standing in the shoes of the beginner looking down at their hands with a dream, let's say you decide to do something and then in the process of doing that thing for the very first time you think: this is really hard. This doesn't come naturally to me. I feel excited about the idea but now that pen is to paper and the responsibility for this to actually work or turn into something people actually give a sh*t about is on the line, I'm a little bit scared. Why are you scared?
Because. What if it's shitty?
What if everyone who pays attention regrets wasting their time?
What if my grandma texts me that this was a horrible, horrible idea?
What if I get spammed on Instagram because I live a little and put myself out there?
What if my best friends talk about me behind my back?
What if strangers one day meet me and look me in the eye and say how dare you?
What if everyone who pays attention keeps coming back?
What if my aunt shares this on Facebook with pride?
What if I connect with new people because I lived a little and put myself out there?
What if my best friends can't stop raving about it - and call me to tell me that?
What if strangers one day meet me and look me in the eye and say thank you?
BOTH. MINDSETS. SCARE. THE LIVING. DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME.
And here's why: Regardless of whether I fall on my face or proceed to soar, what I'm starting with will not be what I end up with. And I feel deeply, deeply responsible to make my future self proud. Whether what I produce today - whatever I try for the very first time - wins or loses, I am wrong, today. I did not end up with what I worked on, today. I am starting at ground zero, and this will either end up in a ditch or the penthouse. I loathe the sense of loss. I am also pathologically terrified of not knowing whether the risk of saying yes might actually work out.
Let it be shitty. Proceed knowing fully well - with absolute ! certainty ! - that the journey of which you are proceeding to walk through will result in you, one year later, looking back with a little laugh.
"You had no idea what you were capable of."
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" -Mary Oliver
That's what I want to ask people. That's all I ever want to ask people. It's what lights me on fire and makes me cry. It's what moves communities to cross oceans and climb higher than mankind had ever gone before. The things that people fill their wild and deeply precious lives with - and the decision to choose those things for themselves - fascinate me to figure out and reflect back upon. I quite literally can never get enough of these stories - no matter who tells them or when.
So when COVID-19 ripped away every professional experience the friends of mine had so longingly fought for, I couldn't sit still. Yes, I recognize there are a million ways to serve the planet during this time. Starting a podcast isn't going to save the world. But in thinking about the unthinkable, I stared at my hands, and my role and interest in media & communications, and thought: what can I build? What could serve these people I love - even for only a season? A blog post felt too quiet. One conversation felt too fleeting.
Thus, a podcast was born.
I thought of the name "Passages" quite spontaneously and never looked back. A passage is a journey. It's a bridge from here to there. It's the permission granted to move any which way you need to, to get to the other side. It's also the best parts of stories, the excerpts, and the quotes. It's all the good stuff and the ways that good stuff changes you for the better. That intention drove me forward. Here we are.
I'm calling this a "project" for the sake of my creativity, inspired by one of my favorite books Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. If I laid the responsibility of something long-term, famous, or magnificent on my own two shoulders, I'd crumble. I've done that before. It didn't work out so well. So for now? We are in Season 1. And I'm so glad you're here.
Here's the plan: Weekly conversations with best friends, career coaches, coworkers, and keynote speakers. We're talking to health coaches, graduate students, the old and wise, and the newly embarked. No story too small; no ambition too great. We're unlocking life, work, and crazy real empowerment from the ground... up.
If you have a recommendation on someone I could talk with - let me know! I started a dedicated email: email@example.com as well as Instagram account: @passagespod to keep track of all things Passages. I'd love to hear what you have to say and who you think I should sit down with next.
Today you'll find a prologue and not one but two new episodes for you to binge until the next goes live. I hope you love these as much as I did. Ready?
Available now on all platforms.
photo by Alanna McArdle
Oh how my heart bursts when I think about this beautiful, vibrant city. I spent the summer of 2017 studying abroad in Barcelona, living out the dual tourist-student vibe so many study abroad students can probably relate to. By day, I was stuck in a very dull colored classroom, learning about the fabric of urban development and the ethics of educational technology. By afternoon, I was studying in coffeeshop... after coffeeshop... after coffeeshop... By night, I was taking my own self out for a walk, editing photos from the weekend's explorations, and learning to cook for one using nothing but goat cheese, chorizo, and lots of brown rice. I shared a kitchenette and really long desk with the best roommate (shoutout) and learned a LOT about God. All in all, I know that summer will hold near to my heart for the rest of my life. In the moment, I remember it was hard.
Nobody really emphasizes how homebodies might miss home while they're living across an ocean. I felt an immense sense of loneliness, having left everyone I loved thousands of miles away while I explored a country and culture I knew very little about. I'd been to Barcelona one other time with my family years ago, studied Spanish in high school, and was raised to appreciate Hispanic culture. But to live "on my own" and figure life out with nothing more than tips from past students and a slew of stranger-friends was an adventure that (eventually) changed me for the better. But it took a while. It took many, many lessons.
Hi! I'm Chloe, a twenty-something writer and communications strategist figuring it out as I go along. I love airplanes, oat lattes, and deep chats over cheap wine.
I hope you leave here inspired to explore the world and love its people, or, keep reading all the things. It's good for you!
Follow along: @chloe.belangia