Like It Or Not

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My life’s story is chock full of unpopular truths. Raw truth. Stark truth. The kind of truth that does not fill people with the warm and fuzzies or always leave them coming back for more. Perhaps I’ve always known this, but I didn’t realize it fully until Sunday night.

During the first episode of Startup Is The New Black it was my job, alongside cohosts Briana and GG, to discuss the business of writing. I prefaced something I said with, “I don’t think a lot of people like to hear this, but…” My suspicions were confirmed because in real-time, people had the ability to like what I was saying, or more accurately click a button to give me “props.” As I spoke, my eyes couldn’t help but dart to the props emoji and notice if something I said received a flurry of likes or not.

We’re typically affirmed or invalidated via likes in retrospect–an old photo we post, a status update we publish. But, we’re rarely substantiated by those insatiable and intoxicating likes real-time, where every little word escaping our lips is on the chopping block. It’s like the jury deciding the verdict before the prosecution has had a chance to rest its case.

I walked away from that evening feeling out of sorts and disjointed from my purpose. What was a new and exciting opportunity so graciously offered to me dissolved into my own internal battle for a social media stamp of approval. For the first time in a long time, I questioned my own story and how I chose to tell it.

I closed the laptop and called one of my friends.

“I told people that I still work full time. That none of this happened overnight. I told them that it took five years before I made my first dollar from writing. And I don’t know if they liked any of it,” I said.

“But, that’s the truth, isn’t it?” he asked.

Of course it’s the truth, albeit not a resoundingly resonant one. And how could I blame the audience? Anytime I learn someone is an entrepreneur, artist or anything outside of the 9 to 5 mold, I’m instantly drawn to them. I want to pitch a tent in their mind, stay awhile, and learn the lay of their land. I want to ask questions and extract every single ounce of advice. People who thrive outside of the mold intrigue and inspire me, simple as that.

At the same time, life outside the mold is not my current reality. Not now, anyway. My truth is that I still have 20k+ in student loans and $1300 dollars a month to pay in rent. My truth is that I am solely responsible for keeping the lights on in apartment 202 and keeping a feisty feline named Roxy fed. My truth is there are these silent moments when I thank God for stability and the chance to build my dream without it hinging on a dollar.

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There are other unpopular truths. The things that have happened for me have taken a lot of work, patience, sacrifice, juggling, resilience, and lost sleep. They didn’t appear overnight. I never went viral. No one aside from my mama gave a shit about what I so freely wrote online for an entire year. I’ve burned bridges; I’ve lost battles. I’ve cried over emails lexically ripping me a new one. I’ve kicked myself for words I wish I would have garnered the guts to say.

None of us this has come easy. All of it has been a fight. And even four years in, I feel like I’m in the most nascent stages of my creative career. See, my truth is that I still battle inadequacy, doubt, and the temptation to give up on a routine basis. But, somehow, my passion pushes me out of the cave and back into the sun every single time.

These aren’t statements or stories that people immediately gravitate toward. They do not feel good and they certainly don’t paint a rosy, easy-to-come-by portrait of success. My pursuit of the American Dream, obtained by way of balancing gigs while pulling myself up from the boot straps, is a narrative people hardly want to hear, let alone live. Nonetheless, if you want anything remotely worthwhile in this life, you have to both put up and shut up. You have to do the work. If you want it overnight, you clearly do not want it badly enough.

So, that is the story I have to stand by. It is the only success story I can tell. And maybe I have to remind myself to tell that story unwaveringly, like it or not.

Xoxo,
Tyece

A Generation Drunk Off Dreaming

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I’m waiting for someone to start telling the truth. I’m waiting for an entrepreneur to emerge from the woodworks and tell us all that six months ago she was forced out of a job and left up shit’s creek without a paddle. I’m waiting for someone’s success story rooted in mayhem and built from the storm. I want that story now. While she’s knee-deep in mud and neck high in uncertainty.

I’m waiting for something other than a quote urging me to rise and grind.

I’m waiting for people to stop trying to monetize every single thing. I’m waiting for people to produce work that is truly worth investing in. See, when I start suffocating under the pressure to make money, I remind myself to never forget job number one: write good shit. Tell beautiful stories. String together strong sentences. Pen essays that vibrate and linger. Whip up soul food in a world that binges on cotton candy. The money will come. The growth will come. But never forget job number one.

I’m waiting for the moment when we stop drinking dream propaganda and start feeding ourselves substance. I’m waiting for us to stop deifying leaps of faith while we denounce good old common sense. I’m waiting for someone to say that dreams never paid bills and Sallie Mae never accepted “living the life you love” as currency. I’m waiting for us to declare that there may indeed be a long and windy road from the life you’re living to the life you love. And I’m waiting for us to say that is OK. There are levels to this shit.

I’m waiting for us to stop overdosing on Instagram inspiration and start healing our wounds. Doing the real work. Laying our burdens down.

I’m waiting for us to be more patient with ourselves and even more patient with out dreams. I’m waiting for the day when we say “stay low and build” and we truly stay low and build. Not stay low and get rich quickly. Not stay low and quit your job tomorrow. Not stay low and learn how to earn $1,000 dollars in one hour. But truly stay low and build. Brick by brick. Layer by layer. Day after day. Year after year.

I’m waiting for us to unsubscribe from the bullshit.

I’m waiting for you to tell me the truth. And, if you won’t, I will keep telling you mine.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Feature: Alisha Nicole of TheAlishaNicole.com

Editor’s Note: I don’t remember exactly when I stumbled upon Alisha Nicole of TheAlishaNicole.com, but I know I was immediately drawn to her brand. Her work has a distinct look and feel, and it’s obvious she knows a thing or two about branding and entrepreneurship. In today’s feature, Alisha discusses her path to being self-employed, her mantra as a business owner and what advice she would offer to budding entrepreneurs. Meet Alisha.

Age: 26

 Location: High Point, NC

Tell us a little more about you and your business.
Almost two years ago I took a major leap of faith and quit my comfortable job to pursue my online shop full-time. Not knowing what in the world I was getting my self into, I started my blog as a way for me to vent and sort of share my journey as a new full-time entrepreneur. I never knew that me ranting on my blog a couple days a week would turn into another business where I share business/blogging tips and coach other creative women on how they can turn their passion into a profitable business.

 What mantra do you live by as an entrepreneur?
“I will have a productive, prosperous and profitable day.”

How did you transition from a 9-to-5 life to being an entrepreneur? What are the biggest challenges? What are the biggest rewards?
I really just wen’t for it! Now that I look back I realize it was probably a little irresponsible but I was in a position where I felt like my sanity was on the line, so I walked in one day and just put in my two weeks notice. Thankfully I had some extra money in savings to back me up.

The biggest challenge for me at first was to definitely get out of that mindset of knowing that I was going to have a paycheck coming in every two weeks. It took me being dead broke a few times for me to really realize that I had to make this thing work. Another challenge was getting used to being on my own. You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder telling you what to do or when to do it. It’s really all on you. Sink or swim.

Thankfully being out on my own was also my biggest reward. I value my time and freedom. Nothing is better than being able to get up and go when you please, being able to work from wherever there is an Internet connection and not having someone constantly telling you when you can go eat or go to the brathroom.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently revisiting “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero for maybe the 12th time this year. Seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read.

What advice would you offer to someone during the following stages of launching their business?

First 30 days – Don’t lose that drive and momentum that you currently have post launch. Create a solid plan for the future and continue to work your ass off.

First six months – Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. New businesses pop up everyday. Make it your business to stay relevant and in front of your customers face. Also don’t get discouraged if your plan has slightly changed. Readjust, keep it moving and never stop learning.

First Year – This is the time to start thinking about growth (what areas of your business would you like to expand into?) Also think about what worked in your first year and what didn’t. If you don’t have a clear understanding, don’t be afraid to ask your clients what they liked and disliked. Base your next year goals off of the feedback you receive. Most importantly, go celebrate! Many business don’t make it to see one year and you did it!

 You recently took a blogging break. What did you learn from your time off and what tips and tricks would you offer to other bloggers looking to step back from their blogs for awhile?
I learned that no matter how long you have been doing something or how passionate you are about it, EVERYONE needs a break every once in awhile. I would tell them to first off actually take a real break! Like give yourself a few days to do absolutely nothing blog-related. The first couple of days of my break I literally had to stop getting on the computer because I couldn’t help but to work. If you are afraid of losing readers while you’re are away, see if you can get some of your blogging buddies to step in and post for you while you are gone. I had some amazing ladies take over the blog for the full two weeks I was away and it was like I never left!

 

Alisha Nic
Alisha Nicole

After a couple days of rest I suggest really sitting down and thinking about what you want out of your blog and the direction you want it to go in. Think about the areas of your blog where you feel a disconnect and think of a few ways you can resolve it and what will make you fall in love with it all over again. Even if it takes you going through a mini rebrand. If you still need a little help relighting that fire, try writing out your ultimate goal for your blog as if anything were possible (because it really is). There is nothing like allowing yourself to dream BIG to get you motivated again.

Where do you see yourself and your work headed in the next five years?
I definitely see myself being invited to speak at a few major blogging and business conferences within the next few years. I also wan’t to begin offering workshops in my surrounding area for creative women to come learn and network. As for my shop I want to expand that into selling small home decor items and have my brand featured in a few major magazines. Overall for myself, I just want to continue to be happy and genuinely enjoying every moment of this ride!

What is the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve ever received? Best writing advice?
The best entrepreneurial advice would definitely have to be to stop comparing my part one to someone else’s part six. I would get so frustrated that I wasnt growing at the speed that I wanted to and I would constantly wonder why it felt like other businesses were speeding past me. I had to be taught that it’s a journey and not a race. My best writing advice was to “Write from the heart and the rest will come.” When I first started blogging it was so easy to start writing about what I “thought” my readers wanted instead of writing about topics that I truly had a passion for.

 Round of mad libs:

 Can’t leave home without: my iphone and planner.

 Must have __________ in order to get into my creative space: silence

 Love __________ and _____________ to start the day: prayer and gospel music.

What are some of your favorite posts you’ve written on TheAlishaNicole? http://www.thealishanicole.com/blog/2014/05/06/my-journey-i-quit-vlog

http://www.thealishanicole.com/blog/2014/10/8/when-dreams-become-reality

http://www.thealishanicole.com/blog/2014/9/29/if-you-would-just-be-patient

What keeps you inspired?
Knowing that I am inspiring other women to take control over their life and do something that they truly love. And knowing that one day I will be able to give to my mom like she has ALWAYS given to me.

 Alisha is an online shop owner, blogger and business coach to creative women. Always knowing that she wanted more out of life than she felt like the average 9 to 5 could offer her, she decided to take the giant leap of faith into full-time entrepreneurship. A little of a free spirit and always with her head in a book or blog post, Alisha spends the majority of her days helping creative women like herself turn their passion into a full-time profitable business.

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