This Is The Worst Mistake I Made In My 20s
When I was in high school, my dream was to be a creator.
This was in the late 2000s, before social media was really a thing like it is now. So I thought I’d have to do it the old school way.
And now at 29, I can finally call myself a creator. I spent most of my 20s dabbling in it while I did other things, but this year I finally decided to go all in.
But why did I wait so long, you may ask?
Well, it’s complicated.
I didn’t believe I could make money doing it
Like many other kids in America, I was taught by society that if I want to be successful, I gotta go to college and get a “real job.”
So when I told my parents, teachers, and high school classmates about my plan to move to LA and become a creator, they all thought I was insane and they tried to talk me out of it. That just wasn’t a thing people did where I’m from.
Most of my old classmates still live in our hometown today and they all work “normal” jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that path if it makes you happy. But I always knew it wasn’t right for me.
I needed to learn the hard way in order to fully believe it though.
After graduating from college with a journalism degree and an art minor (which is the best degree option if your goal is to be a creator), I spent two years working in corporate America.
Just getting my foot in the door was a nightmare in itself, but once I got there I realized I was doing it for the totally wrong reasons.
As in, I was only there to please my parents and look successful on paper. Not because I genuinely wanted to be there. But I still stuck it out because I believed I needed a corporate job to make money.
People had been warning me about the whole “starving artist” trope since I was a teen and I really did not want to that to be me.
Even after I left corporate America and finally moved to LA at age 26, I still didn’t fully believe I could be a successful creator though. So I tried doing affiliate and network marketing instead.
This was at the end of 2017 and I got sucked in by all the lifestyle porn content being posted by various business and success “gurus” on social media.
I saw all these young people like me traveling the world as digital entrepreneurs, wearing designer clothes, and posing next to luxury cars, and I just wanted to be a part of that world so badly.
And it finally seemed like it could be accessible to me fairly soon through entrepreneurship. Because I still believed being a creator meant I’d have to be a starving artist for a long time before making it.
So that became my focus for the next two years. I stopped pursuing modeling and acting in Hollywood and started branding myself as a digital entrepreneur on social media.
I bought some online courses and learned how to build funnels, run Facebook ads, grow an Instagram account on automation (it was less risky to use bots at the time), and do email marketing.
And while I loved the whole creative process of building a brand online, I once again realized I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
My biggest issue was that I didn’t really believe in the products I was selling. I just wanted to make money fast so I could quit my job, travel the world, and have the time freedom to focus on my creative passions.
So unsurprisingly, my business was an epic fail. People could sense that I was just trying to take their money, so they had a hard time trusting me.
And it was so frustrating seeing what seemed like everyone else online getting fast results except me.
After a year and a half of barely making any money in my business and still waiting for that magical day in what felt like the distant future when I could finally quit my job, I had a mental breakdown.
I was crying and venting about my frustration to my then-boyfriend, who was one of those very successful digital entrepreneurs that I wanted to be like when he gave me the idea to stop doing affiliate marketing and start creating and selling my own products.
And it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Why was I making myself wait until after I quit my job to start focusing on my creative goals? Why wasn’t I just working on them now?
Shifting my focus
I spent the last bit of 2019 studying some of my favorite bloggers and influencers and coming up with a strategy to rebrand myself as a creator in the fashion and personal development niches. Personal development was something that had really improved the quality of my life and I wanted to help others reap the benefits too.
But this time, my goals would be simply to create things I enjoy and impact as many people as possible. I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself to quit my job within a certain time frame because I knew focusing only on money would just fuck me over again.
I was originally going to start a Wordpress blog and a YouTube channel, while continuing to grow my Instagram. But then I discovered Medium this year and I figured it’s a better writing platform than Wordpress.
And despite all the craziness that’s happened in the world in 2020, I’m finally really happy with where my life is headed.
The key difference is that I enjoy the day-to-day process of creating for myself so much more. I have an easier time being happy now in the present, whereas before I often felt like I had to make X amount of money and quit my job before I could fully allow myself to be happy.
I sometimes still have moments where I get frustrated from not seeing fast enough growth as a creator. And I sometimes consider going back to affiliate marketing when I see people in the industry post luxury lifestyle content on social media.
But I know if I start chasing money and shiny objects again, I’m only gonna end up back where I started in 2017. What really keeps me going this time is feeling like I have a purpose beyond just making money.
I truly feel like this is what I was meant to do all along and I should’ve listened to my heart instead of other people.
There’s an old saying that when you do what you love, the money will eventually follow. And I really believe that’s true. Because I’ve found that doing what I love has been the number one factor in helping me stay motivated. It’s the thing that’s helped me keep going every single day, even on the days when things are hard and I’m tempted to quit.
Becoming a successful creator is a process. It’s not an overnight get-rich-quick thing. But I know with 100 percent certainty that as long as I stick with it and continue putting in the work consistently over time, there’s no reason I won’t reap the rewards well into my 30s and beyond.