I know you guys don't really think that life is all sunshine & roses over here at Charleston Weekender, but I still like to check in and occasionally put things in perspective (just in case you had some unnecessary FOMO). I only show you my highlights on my Instagram, because I bet pictures of me ugly crying aren't really what inspires you! Luckily it's been a minute since I last fell apart, but I DO hope to be better about sharing more of the struggle side of my journey with you this year. Today I wanted to dispel a few misconceptions I have heard, based on what people have told me from what they see on my social media.
1. I'm always happy!
While I did learn from my mom how to focus on the positive, I definitely have periods of just "blah". I've had anxiety since grad school in 2006; after a lot of therapy, yoga, dietary changes, & self-awareness, I mostly have it managed. In 2017 I got WAY out of the habit of regular exercise, and let dairy/wheat sneak back into my diet a lot. I had so many days of waking up with a feeling of dread over nothing at all, and other days where I was just laying on the couch all day with no motivation to do much of anything. My anxiety can zap so much of my energy that I get totally depleted and start feeling depressed. This has all dramatically changed since implementing some new habits like a morning routine (read more about that here)!
2. I'm killing it- I mean just raking in the dough & ballin' out of control over here.
My biggest stressor in this entrepreneurship journey is definitely money. As a speech therapist, I was making a very nice comfortable annual salary with awesome benefits & 16 vacation days. Charleston Weekender & Cannonborough Collective don't send me a regular paycheck, and I'm constantly comparing my bank account now to what it used to be. With entrepreneurship, sometimes there's a surplus and other times you have to give it a lot of extra hustle. In spring or summer I might get wholesale accounts with stores that have multiple locations, but then I might not get a reorder again for several months.
I DO try to focus on the fact that sometimes the experiences I get to have are even better than money! Well, at least a lot of the perks of my current situation (i.e. occasional free hotels) give me what I would really be spending my extra money on anyway. So it's all relative I guess, and my earnings are consistently growing so there's that.
Side note: I DID wait and very gradually transition out of my speech therapy career; as TCW was bringing home more bacon I went from 4 days to 3 days and so on. I also don't have any bank loans or debt so I feel like that's a huge win, but I often have such a hard time being patient enough to wait for the slow build. I'm definitely much happier working for myself overall!
3. Brands are knocking down my door to pay me the big bucks!
I think it has only happened a handful of times in the last year that I've had a company reach out to me to "collaborate" and then be willing to pay the rates I'm charging. Usually my partnerships happen because I pitched myself to them. When companies/restaurants DO reach out to work together, it's often to offer me a product I would never use or a glass of champagne in exchange for coming to promote their location. I very rarely get offered something that's worth the value of what I'm currently charging for a post.
So how do I get to work with the likes of Draper James & Talbots or be on influencer teams for big events like Modernism Week? The majority of the time, I just ask! I reach out to companies/locations/PR firms and make a compelling argument for why we should work together. I send so many emails I don't ever hear back from, and also get plenty of flat out "no"s. I'm so grateful for any and every opportunity that comes my way, but sometimes it's frustrating when people don't see the value in what I'm offering. Other times, I get hired by really awesome companies or receive products from fabulous brands that I absolutely love.
4. I live a lavish life of jet setting. So fancy!
Ok YES, I do travel as much as possible (probably 1-2 times a month). My mom gave me the travel bug when we used to tour the country on a Christian Tours bus full of mostly elderly folks. We went every summer and I think we saw about 26 states and Canada along the way!
Sometimes I can barter my Instagram reach for free accommodations, so I definitely try to make that happen as much as possible. Other times, my husband travels to different conferences for his job so I get to tag along. We've gone to Vegas, Palm Springs, LA, & San Fran without having to spend money on lodging, so I fully embrace that when I can!
5. I have no insecurities.
For the most part, I'm way more confident than I was in my 20s and don't really worry about what other people think. Sure, I would love to have straighter teeth, a flat stomach, and thicker hair (which is why I occasionally wear extensions & lots of hats). The great thing about working with awesome photographers is that they know how to catch your best angles (or occasionally remind you to stand up straight/suck in)! I also make sure to remind them not to zoom in on me too much! This is about as close as I care to get with anyone besides my husband.
I don't think there is a single person you see "killing it" that doesn't have their fair share of struggles. I hope my Instagram always gives you inspiration to make your days feel a little more like the weekend, but please remember I have plenty of days I just have to fake it 'til I make it!