How it started...
Sitting at my home office desk in July 2019 I got on a call. It was a standard call, typical for any corporate job, and an hour later I hung up feeling completely drained. There was absolutely nothing that was different with that call than any other and that was the point. After 17 years of traditional work, no matter the title, the money, or the day to day, it all felt the same. A box, a mold, a trap. That was the day that I deceided I needed a break and while I had no idea what that looked like or meant, I knew that if I didn’t take action, my mental health would make the choice for me.
Over the next three months my husband and I talked and planned and after years of saving, prepping, and lifestyle adjustments, we decided it was time for me to step away. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but set my ambitions on becoming a freelance designer and to go from there. Yet when I gave notice that October, it was another 2.5 months of working part time until I made the full exit into the unknown. Looking back I was so far in burnout that I wasn’t really able to do much than show up each day, prep for set-up of an LLC, and try not to have a nervous breakdown. When my last day arrived in December 19, 2019 I wasn’t sure what emotion(s) I would feel. What I got was joy, anxiety, emptiness, excitement, anger, frustration and overall exhaustion.
March 13, 2020 brought a global pandemic, panic and anxiety 1000x fold. A lot of ‘what have I done’ and how can I fix it were a theme over the next 6 months. Here I had willingly quit my full time job while the entire world entered an unknown, food shortages, shutdowns, death, job losses and endless unknowns. I spiraled quickly and started to look for a full-time role in July 2020 back in the corporate world I had just left, all to ease my anxiety around an income source. I landed the job in October 2020 and spiraled once again. I felt like I quit on myself before I even gave it a chance. After more discussions, a lot of tears, sleepiness nights and a few job stipulations I really just wasn’t comfortable with, I turned the offer down. Six figures, room for growth and better benefits than I could have dreamed of all felt like I was being swallowed whole.
With the pandemic enduring and job search in full swing, I continued to make my own path following my curiosity and previous interests. What resulted was diving deep first into the world of design, trying my had as a freelance designer and quickly finding that while I enjoyed the work, it wasn’t what set me alight. Next, I moved over into no-code, learning Webflow and finding that perhaps visual development was more my style. Again, enjoyable, but more fun when it was just for me rather than as a service to others. Next up, teaching others how to use Webflow. I created cloneables, YouTube videos on quick fixes and offered services for QA and troubleshooting in their own projects using read only links. Here’s where I started to thrive! I loved teaching and found true happiness when that resulted in just one person saying my education helped them with their issue.
All this time I was active in the Webflow and no-code community. I joined The Pixel Geek Community as a volunteer and learned more than I could have ever thought possible under Nelson’s teaching and guidance. Then I found Makerpad and through a build challenge in Sept 2020 I started to dive deeper into tutorials, helping others with not only Webflow but other no-code tools.
Suddenly that dread from a possible unaligned full time role seemed to give way to a life raft of opportunities over the next year.
I quickly realized that I wanted to become a better designer and started to take classes with Dann Petty in October 2020. I found not only a teacher, and mentorship, but a friend and community to help me along the way. As I leaned into no-code, design, community and education, I realized I wanted to bring all these things together. The trouble was, I wasn’t sure how. I knew I thrived working behind the scenes, troubleshooting, giving feedback, documenting, templatizing, and educating others on how they too can use all these skills together. So how do I bring this into a skill set that makes me money? The answer, was education through tutorials, live cohorts and community events.
How it's going...
As I started to work with the Makerpad team bringing education to the no-code community I realized I finally found something that I enjoyed, was good at, the world needed and that I could make money at! A true ikigai experience. At the same time I found that the world of community had a huge impact in my journey and I felt a pull to jump in behind the scenes to help founders with how to set-up platforms, what tools to stack together and how to manage all the things to keep the community running. I took these skills and started working as a community operations consultant again leaning back into my skills in project management, business strategy and all things no-code to help clients put everything together in a way that makes sense for their community.
Here we are in January 2023 and I find myself wondering what’s next. While I still love the education space in no-code I find myself burnt out from video creation and a flood of new courses, communities and individuals all doing the same work; enter imposter syndrome. I’ve spent the last month wondering, do I continue down this path spreading myself and my skillset in two separate fields, struggling to make a sustainable income but having a relaxed and flexibile work environment. Or, do I want to find a full-time job, providing one sustainable income source, less of a relaxed work environment but removal of money stressors to allow more creativity with side projects? I’m mentally exhausted with admin side of being on your own. Trying to find client work has left me without the creativity or energy to create or share anything. Enter the cycle of no marketing = no clients = no money = exhaustion 🔁.
The mental health impact and financial stressors that come with solo work can’t be understated and yet we seem to shy away from talking openly about them. After all, mental health was a big factor in leaving my last full-time role. Does a full-time role mean consistent income, yes, it is a guarantee or security, of course not. What it will do is allow me to remove one stressor in hopes of finding the energy to get back to my side projects.
When it comes to full-time work, I’m looking for an opportunity at a company that aligns with my values, appreciates my skillset, embraces my desire to dive into all things operations, sits between community, product and education, has a team approach, and leaves room for exploration. I’m also taking on long term contract clients looking for community operations or project management.
I don’t know what the future holds, but as I look back on that day in July 2019 and the meeting that changed it all, I can’t help but think, that maybe this story will lead to the next change that comes my way.