I think that most of us can agree that being pigeonholed sucks. If you don’t know what that term means, it means that because you’ve worked in a certain industry for an extensive time (or did certain things for an extensive amount of time), one or more persons (or businesses) think that you can’t do anything else.
And If You’re a Freelance Writer, It Can Hurt Your Business
As a freelance writer (or an editor…or, really, any sort of freelancer), there’s a big likelihood of sticking with the same sorts of projects or working with the same industry over and over again. They like what we do. We know what we’re doing.
Yet, interviewing in other industries for other work can cause the new potential client to determine, without really getting to know you or putting a lot of attention toward what you sent, that you’re not right for the job because you don’t have a substantial history working in THEIR industry. They pigeonhole you. You can’t be qualified because you haven’t worked exclusively in their world. You know, you haven’t been THEIR bird in a gilded cage. You were someone else’s bird in a gilded cage.
It has the potential to leak much suckage into your business. Because, you know, how the fuck can you grow your business (and experience) if people do that?
The good news is, I have a quick cure.
Don’t worry – I’m not about to get all philosophical on you. What I mean by “know thyself” is to make sure that you can recall each project you’ve worked on with similar features OR that is exactly the same (on the same subject or what have you). Make sure that you have samples (and publication links) ready. And take the time to listen to what they’re saying as they speak. There’s a good chance that they really didn’t take the time to look at the samples they requested. Trust me, I know. I was asked for samples. I sent two. One was an ebook snip and one was a textbook snip; they weren’t related. The potential client stated I sent two samples of legal writing. One was on leadership. The other was on adolescent psychology.
From there, I went forward and discussed published clips where I had written extensively for the legal industry about the specific idea this person had for a project (to show my subject matter expertise).
Whether or not I get the work still remains to be seen. My point in sharing this is to explain to you that you don’t have to get flustered or feel bad because someone pigeonholes you. If you know your previous projects inside out, you’ll find a way to relate it back.
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when people reflect on the previous year…the good, the bad, and the ugly. Overall, 2018 was really good for us as a family. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every single day was smooth sailing. So, I’ve compiled this list of shit I learned during 2018. It’s not written in any particular order.
We All Get Exactly What We Put Out to the Universe
And noooo, I am not talking about religion, prayer, deities, or etc. I’m not even talking about the law of attraction. So, then, what in the fuck am I talking about? The amount of work we all put into our lives, of course. If you want success, you can’t work one day and then decide it is smooth sailing from there. If you want a better tomorrow, take care of shit today. What you do today will affect your life tomorrow (and, depending on what you do, for years to come). Getting more money, more happiness, more anything requires us to actually, you know, do those things as opposed to just thinking about it or dreaming about it.
You Can’t Trust Just Anyone
As usual, I had a year of wanting to believe the best in people and give people a chance. The problem, for the most part, is that people want certain things out of life, but once they figure out it’s hard, they quit. They make excuses. They want things handed to them. Or they lie to you and try to cheat you…and then try to make you into the bad guy. I’m incredibly glad I’ve always been a good record keeper. That will always continue. It provides a certain level of protection for what I do and for my reputation.
Time Off Is Essential
Honestly, this is kind of a catch-22 when you’re self-employed because if you don’t work, you’re not getting paid. In 2018, though, I found out just how much time off does for me. In general, I’m a “writeaholic.” I’d say workaholic, but we did my yearly calculation of time…but I’m always thinking about what I write for my clients or for my audience*…or for myself.
I took a few weeks off over the course of last year. Some of that time was planned. Some of it was not, but was necessitated between devastating migraines and the youngest kid being sick. (And 2019 just seems like the year that everyone will catch everything going around…) It took a lot of constant reminders to myself to stop worrying about that time off. So I could rest. And when I returned to my work, I was far more productive.
Better Nutrition = Better Overall Life
We keep improving our diets. In July of 2018, we started “clean eating.” Which, if you don’t know what that is, think about how back in the day our grandparents (great grands for some of yall) would KNOW what was in their food. They ate what they grew…and it was back before most food was comprised of 87 ingredients most of which we can’t pronounce. We weren’t strict clean eaters. We were common sense ones. More fruits and vegetables (oddly, we look for produce from Mexico and other foreign countries because remember all of the recalls on American-grown produce? Funny how that happened, huh?). Reading labels and not buying shit with a fuck-ton of ingredients we couldn’t pronounce or identify.
But, it kept moving forward. We bought a juicer. Bull and I had already cut back some on meat. We ate a lot of chicken because of its lean nature. Heart health was important for me. Physical fitness for BJJ competitions was important (and is important) to him.
Now, we’re vegetarians. Again, not super strict. It’s not a moral issue because, let’s be real, two more vegetarians isn’t going to stop the slaughter of animals (and trust me – I do not like the inhumane conditions of most places that process meat). We’re back to heart health, physical preparedness, and, as we’ve learned, feeling better overall. And, yes, we ate turkey on Christmas. We still go out and have the occasional hamburger. Although I learned yesterday, the hard way, that I should probably just pay the upcharge and get a vegetarian patty. Talk about feeling sick.
I Need More “Me” Time
I told Bull in late December that I planned to be selfish in 2019. He looked at me weird because I’m not a selfish person. Pretty much everything I do is for someone else. That’s not a complaint, by the way, it’s just the nature of who I am.
Basically, the more “me” time is shit I do that I want to do because I like it. I’d give you a list, but I’d sound like your grandma (read: quilting, crocheting, embroidery by hand). I’ve got some other things in mind for the summer while my 18 year old is at basic training.
Clarity in Goal Setting Is Crucial for Success
This is something I’ve always known at some level, but it wasn’t until around September when I bought myself a birthday present (Tony Robbin’s Ultimate Edge) that I started getting really clear about things I wanted to do in my personal and professional life. So, I bought a special notebook and that keeps my morning and evening power questions as well as my goals. I revisit my goals periodically and also do monthly goal setting (which then breaks down to what exactly must I do for each week).
I also chose three words for the year that I want to represent my life. I did this last year around September and set reminders on my phone. That was very helpful for me.
Meditation Is Life
This last year, I’ve also realized just how important that both meditation and yoga are for helping with the severe anxiety I deal with. It helps me remain calm and recenter my thoughts. I’ve been pretty good for a few years now with countering my thoughts and even not having a lot of negative thoughts, but sometimes they still creep in. I’m only human. Meditation and yoga are integral for me now.
So, two nights ago was some straight, next-level Final Destination bullshit. Pandora, my biggest dog is always under my feet. She will start off on the bed with us and then eventually move to sleep in the floor on my side of the bed. Also on my side of the bed is a nightstand that once belonged to Bull’s grandfather, a chest of drawers, and a juicer.
I know, I know – why the fuck is the juicer in my bedroom? There is an explanation for that. Baby Bull has gotten to the point that he doesn’t tolerate loud noises from pretty much anything. That includes lawn mowers, weed eaters, vacuums, washing machines, and…the juicer. (Our juicer isn’t even loud, by the way…) So, to just make life easier on school breaks, I remove it from the kitchen and put it in our room since I won’t be using it with him almost always home with me. I have no intentions on terrifying our kid…and, yes, I miss my juice. But, whatever.
Anyway, throughout my day, I constantly have to maneuver around
Pandora. She will sleep as close to my feet or chair or desk or whatever as she
possibly can. You’d think that, by now, she’d be used to me stepping over her.
The lamp was on the other night (because I’m always worried about accidentally stepping on the dog) and around 2 am, I had to get up and go to the bathroom. I carefully placed a foot down between Pandora’s paws (because of how she was splayed out). She looked up at me and I said hi. I kept getting up (because it’s not like we haven’t done this dance a million times in the past together) thinking she was just gonna let me step over her.
Oh no…not that night. She tried to stand up right when I did
and tripped me. I thought, “Oh fuck…this is how it ends. She trips me. I fall
backwards and slam my head on the nightstand…and then, just like Final
Destination, somehow the juicer ends up in the air, comes apart, and the blade
will come out and kill me!”
For the record, even IF the juicer would have somehow come apart, there’s no way that could have happened. The blade is stored within the metal filter thing that separates the pulp from the juice. But, at 2 am, my brain doesn’t give a shit. I was SURE I was going to die. Also, I didn’t fall. Miracle of miracles.
It is okay to think about why you do the things you do. It’s okay to acknowledge that some of your behavior is hardwired into your brain because of shit in the past. It’s normal. We all have shit that affects our behavior.For some of us, we have plenty of control over our external actions and can put on a fantastic external attitude while our insides feel like an episode of Jerry Springer where two kissin’ cousins are shocked to find out that their stripper threesome unicorn is really not such a unicorn after all, but rather…a honeybadger in unicorn’s clothing.
Because we all have our fucking issues. Every single one of us. Yours aren’t any worse or better than those experienced by someone else.Reality is subjective. I’ve said it over and over again. Everyone has some valid feelings…and feelings that other people would not find valid (although they are because everyone has a right to feel things).
Feel the things, if you want. But there’s two problems with constantly feeling the things from the past.
First problem – you’re continuing to solidify your actions and thoughts. If you have PTSD (I do so I totally get it), you continue to relive not just what happened but what it felt like, the temperatures involved,emotional sensations, colors, and everything that was involved with what happened. And I say from experience that shit sucks. The more you solidify something, even if you do NOT have PTSD but went through something really shitty and it causes you to act like a jackass toward everyone else, the more you’ll continue to repeat the cycle. You have to learn how to stop the broken recording your head. It is NOT easy. You have to stop every stupid ass thought and counter it with something positive. And yes, you’ll feel stupid at first whenyou do it. Over time, those other thoughts won’t happen as much…and for those with PTSD, it’s easier to come back to reality.
Second problem – you’re robbing yourself of the here and now and the person you always wanted to fucking be. You did not grow up wanting to be a miserable little fuck. You did not grow up wanting to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty or violence or anything else. You’re an adult now. You and you ALONE are the sole responsible party for what happens in your life. If you’re not doing what you wanted to do, that’s on you. And getting to where you want to be is a lot of fucking work. Daily work. It’s hustling and grinding inside of yourself. It’s showing up as your best self every day. It’s remembering that there’s no such thing as imposter syndrome although we all feel as if we’re fakes when we try to move on to the next level. It’s embracing the unknown although it’s fucking scary although we may not like where we are right now.
Don’t let your demons destroy your life. YOU truly are the only solution to your life. No one else. Nothing else. Just you. So what are you gonna do about it? Are you gonna keep being miserable or are you gonna show up and put in the work to get what you want out of YOUR life?
Life truly has a way to creating what seems to be unsolvable situations. Situations that leave people feeling like they are truly fucked and have no options. I know. I’ve been there. Everyone has. Yes, even those with money and power…but their “Well, I’m fucked!” scenarios are a bit different from those of us who are average and even those who feel like they fall below the mark of average…like life gave them one extra swift kick to the stomach. Again,I know. I’ve been there.
The Basic Truth about Feeling Fucked Over in Life
There is one basic truth about feeling fucked over in life if you live in a developed country (you know, one where it isn’t a routine occurrence to beat someone to death or throw someone from a roof to protect the “honor” of a family. Because apparently, being a murderous clan is so fucking honorable…).And that basic truth is this: when you’re a child you have zero control over your life for the most part. You can’t help what your parents do or where they live. My parents were drug addicts. We were constantly moving. I went to thirteen different schools as a kid. I couldn’t control their addiction. Of course, like any kid, I internalized what they did as my fault (and they made sure I thought it was my fault. Straight As were never good enough. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was told all of the time I’d grow up to be a loser and be in jail.)
Children are at the mercy of the world…their world. Their parents, their family, their society, and even the system. That doesn’t mean that a child going through rough shit can’t make good decisions. It just means that they can’t necessarily be held responsible for what happens when they’re children. When you constantly have negative influences around you, it is hard as fuck to not fall into that.
That repetitive negative behavior influences most people for the rest of their lives. As they become adults, they remain a slave to what happened in the past. This is because their entire thinking pattern was affected. Even if they dreamt of getting out of that life as a kid (I sure as hell did – I was four the first time I calculated how long it would be until I would turn 18), the thoughts remain well into adulthood.
The Primary Issues of Feeling Fucked By Life as an Adult
We all have our struggles, don’t we? Of course, it’s hard for us to really notice (let alone accept) the fact that we’re not only one struggling. There are a couple of primary issues that keep adults feeling fucked over by life:
They still have the same thought process. We can stop associating with the assholes of our youth (including parents), but that doesn’t stop the thoughts.Our brains keep telling us the same shit we heard for our entire youth.Sometimes, we even choose a partner that, although we don’t recognize it at first for whatever reason (and I could give you a litany of reasons – yay Master’s level forensic psych classes!), who mirrors the very person who heaped most of the abuse upon us. “I can fix them. They will change.” No, they won’t. But because we couldn’t fix or please the other person, our innate drive is to find someone like that and make it work – to show it really wasn’t us. (And it wasn’t you, by the way.)
Change is hard and unknown results are fucking terrifying. It’s the same reason why many domestic abuse victims don’t leave (and why it takes them going back an average of seven times to leave…and I’m not judging – I lived through that…a decade of it). It’s hard to change. We know what we know. We might not like our current reality, but we have an intimate understanding of it. To some degree,although you probably won’t admit it to yourself or to me, it’s comforting. We want to be different. We want to change. We want to be successful. We want to be happy. We want to feel peace. We want all of these things, don’t we? And we know that what we’re currently doing won’t get us there. Hell, a lot of people know what they NEED to do to at least start on the path of getting what they want. I mean, they may not have EVERYTHING mapped out, but they know how to start. Yet, they don’t do it. Because while they know what they WANT to get out of it, there’s no guarantee. They’re terrified of the unknown.
Failure Isn’t What You Think It Is
People are terrified of the unknown because on one hand they totally expect their entire life plan to go off without a hitch. Shit, if it were that easy, everyone on the goddamn planet would be a success, wouldn’t they? They think that if one thing goes wrong, they can’t be successful. They MUST be a failure at whatever it is…and at life. And they blame everything and everyone instead of putting that energy toward refining their plan.
Failure isn’t when something doesn’t go how you think it should. Failure is all in your head. Do you know how much research usually goes into the creation of anything? A whole fuckin’ lot of it. When things don’t work, shit gets changed and the research continues. Your life is a giant research project on how you can obtain the results you want: success.
And What the Fuck Is Success, Anyway?
Well, the media would have you believe that it’s money,beauty, youth, glamour, giant homes, elegant dinners, and buying the most expensive shit out there. I mean, seriously, did you not read the news story about how Pay Less Shoes opened a fake designer shoe store called Palessi? First of all, how did these people not fucking know they were getting had? When I first heard the word I was like, “Oh,wow, did Payless Shoes come back under a new name?” Do not trust the media to help you define success.
For most of us, myself included, success boils down to the
We want enough money to pay our monthly expenses(including food, keeping a roof over our heads, and not wondering if we have to choose between paying the electricity or the water). Basically, we don’t want to worry about money. I don’t even think most people want to be filthy rich(because that brings its own set of problems). We want to secure our existence.
We want to feel safe. We want to live somewhere that makes us feel safe. For some, that could be living in a different neighborhood.For others, it could mean moving to a different city or state to get away from an abuser.
We want to feel happy / peaceful. Here’s the thing about happiness and peace…it’s all an inside job. You will never earn enough to feel happy for the rest of your life. Our brains automatically say, “Oh this is nice…and it would be so much nicer if I had more…” Then, we’re unhappy with what we DO have.
Success is an individual journey. Like, what do you really want in life? What would make you feel successful? Get clear about it. Crystal-fucking-lake clear. You don’t even have to make a roadmap or goals at first. Just know what you want. I wanted to not worry about whether there was food. (I grew up without much food ever being in the house. When we had groceries, it was usually because my aunt or grandma dropped some off. Thankfully, there were times we lived within “walking distance” of them. I thought it was walking distance…my grandma and aunt disagreed. I would walk over there and eat.) I didn’t want to worry about where I’d live. (It’s a serious problem when you’ve moved as much as I did because your parents were constantly evicted for non-payment of rent.)I wanted to feel safe. (Ten years of domestic violence and a permanent VPO against a former spouse can make it hard to feel safe at times even now. C-PTSD literally rewires your brain.)
When I started my professional writing career, I was teaching college (FYI – I started working on my bachelor’s when I was like…26.I had two little kids and I worked full time) and working part time in a law firm. I wanted to work from home because:
I could set my own rate. This would help because I could make enough (as the business would grow) to keep food in the house and the rest of the bills paid.
I could work from home and not worry about the d-bag showing up and trying to kill me or calling my employer to try and get me fired. (It’s legal to fire domestic violence victims in several states. I was even brought in by the legal department of the college I worked for where I had to present all of my court documents and evidence because he kept calling them.I never lost my job, thankfully, but it was terrifying. And it isn’t like I’ll fire myself!) The way my home sits, you can’t really tell where I am in the house. There are few front facing windows. I also have three dogs. Two of which are quite protective. I’ve also taken krav maga. I have no doubt that I can keep myself safe now.
There were other reasons I wanted to work from home (including serious introversion – dealing with people can wear my clear the fuck out).
No One Will Save You –
You Have to Unfuck Yourself
No one is coming to save you. The government will not make your life better. I don’t give a shit how many empty promises you heard on television or the radio. Having a significant other who will “save” you is toxic at best. You’re supposed to be a partner. Your happiness should never be tied to the existence of just one person other than yourself. No one is going to drop on to your doorstep and just give you six billion dollars. Sure, play the lotto if you want…the chances are still low of that happening (although I wish you the best).
The only person who can make your life better is you. You are your own biggest problem. And you’re also your greatest solution. You HAVE to get on Team You. This doesn’t mean you totally say to hell with everyone and their feelings and hurt people. It means that you start taking responsibility for your life. It means that…..(get ready to hate me!)
YOU DO THE FUCKING WORK IT TAKES TO GO FROM WHERE YOU ARE TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE.
No more excuses. Do the work. And it’s hard. It’s a daily thing. You don’t do the work for a day or a week or a month and bam everything is suddenly peaches and cream. No. It’s a daily action.
No one can save you from your thoughts…except you. And as you go through the process of literally stopping negative thoughts in your head and saying something positive instead, you’re gonna feel like the world’s biggest liar. You’re gonna feel fake. You’re gonna feel kinda gross for doing it. I know. I felt that way. It takes time to reprogram your brain from feeling like a total loser fucked over by life to someone who can do something to make a positive change.
One of my favorite sayings is that success is the best possible revenge anyone can have. So, do the hard work. There’s no magic secret. You have to work through it all. You have to work when you’re upset,sad, anxious, depressed, whatever. You have to do the work when it sucks and when it is boring. I have complex PTSD and it is NOT easy. But I get up every fucking day (even when I don’t want to do that) and I do it.
It means maybe starting by doing some things you don’t necessarily want to do that will still bring in money you need. Looking back, I’m proud that I have over 400 ghostwritten books under my belt. Do you think I loved every single one of them? Fuck no. But it paid the bills for a while. As time went on, I refined how I approached potential clients. I also refined how I treated myself. Now I enjoy almost all of my projects.
And That’s How You Unfuck Yourself: Do the Work
That’s it in a nutshell. And I know people don’t want to hear it. Life is hard. For everyone. You’re not special in that sense. Do the work. Face your fear of what life will be like when you change it. Think long and hard about the real reasons why you’re still where you are…and think long and hard about where you want to be. There’s no real secret: do the fucking work.