Recently I have been experiencing small anxiety attacks. Usually they manifest in shortness of breath and bodily pains around my chest. (I went to the doctor to check it out and I’m fine.)
This happens when I develop the scarcity mentality concerning time. I become overwhelmed with tasks at hand, and I begin to believe that I won’t get everything done that needs to be done, that I’ll let myself and others down, and that I won’t do a good job at X or that I’ll fail.
Fail at what? Who knows? Because when I really think about it, I’m not failing at anything. I’m not letting anyone down. People tell me I’m helping them, that what I do makes an impact, and I believe them. So then what am I failing at?
All of my stress comes from myself and the high expectations that I’m creating for myself. I tell myself I’m failing. I tell myself I’m letting myself down. I tell myself I’m letting others down. But I’m not. It’s nice to think it out loud. I’m not letting anyone down. I’m not failing at anything. To believe that I am, these are false beliefs.
F.E.A.R. False Expectations Appearing Real. Am I fearful of failing life? No. Then what? Am I fearful that I will not find a career that fulfills me? Yes. I am ashamed that I can’t fully self-claim the title of adult because I can’t financially support myself. That’s what I fear. Society’s expectations.
I’m 24. I’ll be 25 by the end of August. The end of next month will mark 2 years since I’ve graduated from college. I’m living at home and I’m making close to no money, literally. I can’t support myself. When I took on freelance work, I was able to support myself to an extent, but not really. I didn’t and don’t make enough money to rent a place in the Bay Area. I don’t make enough money to pay my monthly student loan payments of $1,300. I take classes at the local junior college to defer my student loans. I feel embarrassed by all of this. It makes me feel like I’m not an adult.
But I chose this path. Sometimes I run high on my passion, and other times I run low on the fact that my passion isn’t paying me. I begin to question my life and where it’s going.
I have chosen to put my time into building the Love Warrior Community and Community Bucket List. I make some money, but little from the Love Warrior Community and I make no money from Community Bucket List. I’ve built these two online communities out of my passion to help others.
Concerning the Love Warrior Community, people have told me that I have helped them. I have helped them to accept and love themselves; I helped change their lives dramatically. When I hear comments like these, I feel like I’m on cloud nine.
My passion is to help people to love and accept themselves, and I act on this passion through the Love Warrior Community (as a co-founder with my mom), and it’s effective. It’s working, and 1 year from now, 5 years from now and so on, I know that I will be blown by the impact that the Love Warrior Community will continue to make. This makes me happy.
Concerning Community Bucket List, people have thanked me for supporting them, for supporting them in their goals, encouraging them and helping them take action on the life they want to live. I created Community Bucket List to give myself more focus, drive and support and to help others in the same way. And it’s doing just that. I know it’s impacting people’s lives positively, and just like the Love Warrior Community, 1, 2, 5, and 10 years from now, it will have an even bigger impact, and that makes me happy.
I have been writing for Curve Magazine, my favorite magazine and the leading lesbian magazine in the nation. At first I was their intern/Editorial Assistant, and now I’m a writer, but they don’t pay their writers. [Update: Curve does pay writers for print articles.]
I have been writing book reviews for EDGE Media Network, a LGBT news and entertainment portal that reaches 22 major cities in the U.S. and Canada, but it’s unpaid.
I love writing for both publications and I love writing about and for the LGBTQ community. It impassions me to contribute to LGBTQ media. It impassions me to not only entertain, but to inform and inspire and to help empower those in the LGBTQ community, those who are already empowered and those who are in the process of coming into their identity and pride.
This past semester, instead of taking classes to defer my student loans, I have taken on an internship with an organization my mom founded, Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc (EDRS). I love helping them. I love being a part of their team, and I love being involved in the eating disorder recovery community, but once again, it’s time unpaid.
I’m involved in other online communities and I’m heavy on helping others when I can and networking, and I’m passionate about it, but my passion only goes so far.
When 98% of what I do is unpaid, and when I begin to do so much unpaid work that I turn down paid work, that raises a red flag for me.
When one of my main passions is helping others, sometimes it can become a negative thing. When I begin to focus all of my time on others, I start to lose myself. And when I stop taking care of myself, I’m not in a place to best help others.
I need to be my number one priority, and for the past 2 years my number one stress and struggle has been related to money and to the fact that I cannot support myself financially.
I know I have the skills, the knowledge, the experience and the drive to do whatever I put my mind to. I don’t doubt that. My problem is I cannot decide on what my “career” should be. I have career in quotes because a 9 to 5 job isn’t how I envision my life, but what I’m doing now isn’t working either.
I have ideas. I have a lot of them, and sometimes I 75% seriously consider them, and I start to make a plan in my mind, and then I back out. I fear that if I choose a “career” path, I will hate it. I will hate my job, and then I will hate my life. It will constrict me. It will confine me. It will control my life and slowly remove all of my passion, joy and love like a poison.
If I pick a career, there’s finality to that. Structure that isn’t self-imposed scares me.
I’ve worked for others in retail and the food industry, and even though freelance work has more autonomy, it’s still working for others. I can really only ever see myself working for myself, and working on something that I’m 110% passionate about, believe in and can back fully.
Sometimes I feel like this is selfish, that I’m privileged to have a loving and supportive family that will let me live with them until I can support myself — that I have the time available to me to explore my passions. My circumstances are different from some, but I shouldn’t let this be an excuse to bring me down or not succeed.
Sometimes I allow this mind frame to bring me down. I compare myself to others and think so and so is doing X, Y and Z because they have to, they have to make it work. So that makes me selfish for exploring my passions and pursuing a career that I will love, and I should be working harder. I must not be working hard enough if it has been 2 years since graduation and I still can’t support myself. I must not be motivated enough. There’s probably more I should be doing. I’m not doing enough.
I shouldn’t be thinking those thoughts. They’re untrue. I am working hard. I am just working hard on work that doesn’t pay me. It doesn’t make the work I do any less of value. It doesn’t make me less of a person. If I have this opportunity to really make my own life how I want it, I shouldn’t use that as an excuse to bring me down, I should capitalize on that opportunity and make the most of it. I should use it as a catapult to propel myself towards what I need to do.
What I need is a “career”, and spending the majority of my time on un-paid work won’t get me there. It helped me build my experience, explore my passions, etc. etc. but it’s time I do something differently.
I don’t see myself spending the rest of my life on one career. I envision myself doing multiple things that I love, building multiple online communities, writing books, screenplays, plays, making films, etc. But in order to do all of these, I need a steady stream of income.
I’ve been muling over an idea, something that I can see myself doing as my first career that can lead to my financial stability. I’m completely passionate about it, but I still have my insecurities that are holding me back, but not entirely. I’m not running away from this idea, like past ones, I’m just moving through it cautiously.
When I was the Editor-in-Chief of my college newspaper, in my senior year, I envisioned my ideal post-college job. I would create the first ever national LGBTQ newspaper. Although working in the field of newspapers then, I knew that they were dying out.
That idea came and went. Then about 6 months to a year ago, I came up with a similar idea, a LGBTQ website, like an online publication, covering the diversity of the queer spectrum. But something was missing from that idea. My idea wasn’t focused enough and didn’t encompass all of my passions.
About a week ago, the idea of a queer publication came to me again, but in the form of a magazine and with a clearer focus. In my heart, I feel like this can be a long-term commitment that I can do happily and that will continue to impassion me, and that can also turn into my first career.
I know without a doubt I can do this. I read that one and ten magazines fail. I know of magazines, online and offline publications that are alive, but struggling, but I also know of publications that are thriving. I know the market for print isn’t the best, but I know what I’m capable of.
I’ve led a small sized newspaper. My college newspaper was student run. I was the media gatekeeper. I led the staff meetings. I brought in new staff. I made our staff feel welcomed and part of a team. I supported and nurtured the editors and helped the new writers find their confidence.
In my senior year of high school, I put on my own production. I led rehearsals. I rented rooms, got donations and did everything else that goes on into putting on a show, and I made a profit from it.
Since college graduation, I’ve dove into web design, internet marketing, community building, leading interns, editing books, etc. I’m not afraid to take on big projects and dominate them.
Working with Curve Magazine, I wrote, proofread and copyedited for a national magazine. I saw the behind-the-scene process of what they did to get their content from word doc articles to a ready-to-print magazine.
A business plan, marketing plan, publicity, magazine layout, etc, etc. I already have these plans started. For the most part, I know what to do. I already have contacts within the LGBTQ community. I know I can do this.
I just have to decide on it. I have to make the decision that I want this. I have to realize that long-term commitment isn’t horrifying. Committing to this publication won’t make me depressed and feel trapped. It will be a lot of work and hard work, but I’m passionate about it. It doesn’t have to mean the end of my freedom, but it can mean the beginning to a new kind of freedom.
I’m not really scared of failing. I know that I’ll succeed. I’m scared of feeling trapped. That I will succeed and have to be committed to this magazine for 10, 20, forever years. I’m scared that I won’t have the willpower to stick with one job for the rest of my life.
But I also know that at some point, I can hire people to manage it for me. Ideally, I see myself creating this publication and creating other things, like more online communities. I want Community Bucket List to flourish. I want the Love Warrior Community to flourish. I already have an idea for a third online community. I envision myself creating, growing and establishing a strong base for these communities, and then hiring others to manage them so I can continue to create. I have so many great ideas that can benefit others, and I have so many ideas of things I want to create for myself.
That’s my fear. That if I commit to one thing, it will stifle my passion for creation. But really, by not committing to one thing, it’s stifling my passion for creation. By not giving one project at a time my full attention, and by spreading myself thin, my projects won’t come into fruition.
And so I am putting myself in a cycle where I won’t realize my bigger goals and dreams. I fear long-term commitment, and thus don’t fully commit. But by not committing fully, I don’t fully meet my own expectations. In order to create many things and let my creativity run wild, I need to focus on one thing at a time and give it my full creative energy, then I will be able to move on to new creations.
If two years ago I knew my ideal post-college job was to create a national LGBTQ publication, and two years later I have the experience, skills, confidence and contacts to do it, then there shouldn’t be anything stopping me.
A therapist daughter’s side note. I’m eating some yogurt, looking over this post one more time for typos and I read the title, Dealing With Anxiety, and I look over the intro about having small anxiety attacks, and then I think: That’s what my anxiety attacks were trying to tell me!!! One point for my emotions being tools to help me figure out what I need in life!!! They were telling me that I’m ready for a Huge life transition! And it made me anxious. I needed to confront my fear to commit to a career!
Emelina Minero writes for Curve Magazine and EDGE Media Network. She’s working on launching her own progressive LGBTQ publication. She’s a Connection Connoisseur, Networking Maven and Self-Love Enthusiast. She founded Community Bucket List and co-founded the Love Warrior Community. Find her on Twitter, @CommKr8veWriter.