Happy Ten Years!
Happy ten year anniversary! On this day, ten years ago, I was sitting in Melbourne, Australia, typing up and publishing my first ever blog post. It was for recovering goths, and the subject was how to start working colour into your wardrobe. I had pink hair and two tattoos, I had recently overcome an eating disorder, and I was at a crossroads in my life.
I had moved to Australia two months earlier, and I didn’t know what to do next. For the past five years I had been working odd jobs: call centres, data entry, managing a Lush Cosmetics store, selling newspaper advertising over the phone (I got fired from that one), one day in a coffee shop (I never went back). I had always wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea how to make a living. I wanted to start a magazine, but I didn’t have any money to do it.
What I did have was ten years experience oversharing on the internet. I had started with bad poetry websites on Geocities, progressed to Scribble.nu (more bad poetry), and then found a more consistent home on LiveJournal. LiveJournal is where I really cut my teeth. I spent more time compiling journal entries (usually a mixture of what I’d been up to, photos, questions for my readers, and links) than I did working. In fact, at my last office job, they cut off my internet connection because I was one of the top 5 bandwidth users in a company of 20,000 people.
What can I say? When I love something, I reeeeeally love something!
In 2005, I discovered Steve Pavlina’s blog. It was all about self-improvement, and he was making a good living from writing about his own experiences. Blogging was still a very new idea, but it seemed — to me — to bridge the gap between a physical magazine and an online journal. It was more topic-focussed, with more versatility than a diary. I decided I would start one.
I have since published over 2600 posts, written a book, and created about a dozen courses. I’ve taught workshops around the world, spoken to enormous audiences, and hugged so many of you in the street. Ten years later, this is still how I make my living.
It’s crazy and it’s humbling and I can’t lie, yes, it does feel like ten years! As much as I love what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else, it hasn’t always been easy.
Living your dream does not always feel like driving a speedboat across a river of whipped cream, while glitter rains down and Michael Jackson moonwalks alongside you. (Although sometimes it does.)
What people don’t always tell you about “living your dream” is that sometimes, even in the thick of it, you just want to sleep all day. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, things don’t go the way you planned they would. And no matter how great your career, there are other elements to contend with: family, friends, lovers, health, home, and trying to find your favourite lipstick in the bottom of your bag. Keeping it all together is the great challenge.
Even so, I am so happy about how things have turned out. When I look back on the last ten years, I really couldn’t have planned it any better. And I think that has been one of the reasons why I’m still in the game and I still enjoy what I do: I don’t obsessively plan everything. I take opportunities as they come and mostly, I focus on doing what feels fun.
Surely that’s the key to any creative longevity: being flexible while never losing sight of the fact that joy is the most potent inspiration. I hope that I can keep these ideas in mind for the next ten years, and beyond!
Oh, and to celebrate ten years, you may have noticed that the site has a BRAND NEW DESIGN! We Are Branch did the most incredible job with it, and I am so excited! I hope you enjoy it too.
Photos by Lydia Hudgens.