It’s Saturday night and I’m heading home from a few hours spent with my friends watching the NFL playoffs. It was one of those simple nights that always affirm why I love that group of people and how grateful I am to have met them just a few years ago, to have been taken in by their sarcasm and dysfunction and pure, ridiculous love. The sky is dark, the air is cold and I have an hour-long drive in front of me to get home. Long drives are dangerous because even with my Nelly Furtado playlist blasting, I’m left alone with my own thoughts. That’s a scary place to be left alone.
As I start coming off the high of all of the laughter and joy of the night, I begin giving thought to one of my least-favorite questions on the planet: “Has Ty started making money off of her blog yet?”
I would love to answer that question with a flippant response. “Yes, every time I sit down to write something for Twenties Unscripted, I make $200 dollars flat. Didn’t you know that’s precisely how blogs work?”
For better or worse, that is not the answer. The real, true and flat answer is no. No, Ty has not started making money off of her blog yet.
Sometimes when I’m left alone with my own thoughts, I let my thoughts creep into the unhappy place–my bank account. I think about money: wanting more of it, feeling like there’s never enough of it, stressing over a blog budget sheet with far more outgoing than incoming. I think about the misconceptions people may have because I do work, I do pay my own rent and I am fortunate to enough to always have a bottle of a wine to drink and a little bit of OWN to watch. But, money is a fragile topic, a grenade waiting to explode when brought up in mixed company. The topic of money is laden with shame and secrecy and judgment and a lot of other things that no one wants to deal with. No one wants to talk about it.
And I sure as hell don’t want to talk about it much more in this post.
Because money is only an external mark of success. It’s something other people use to measure someone else, to see how they stack up and fit into the overall fabric of the American rat race. Don’t get me wrong; I like money. I’m not going to pretend I’m above needing to pay my bills or take some trips or keep Sallie Mae (or Navient, whatever they want to call it) off my back. Bitch gotta eat.
But when I think about bringing my dreams to life, I don’t think about money. When I sit down to churn out a post, I don’t consider the day when doing so will somehow translate into a dollar figure. When I think about this beautiful and precious space that I create, build and protect, I don’t think about a blog budget sheet or a dwindling bank account or how I need to monetize my words. I get to come home at night and pour out my heart, bare my soul and do my life’s work. I think about reaching women. Creating change. Lifting my voice. Speaking my truth. Cultivating something of substance. Carving out a path for my legacy so that I leave something other than tweets behind when it’s time for me to go.
Of course, I would like to start seeing the financial fruits of my labor. Anyone who lives in a creative space and tells you otherwise is probably not telling you the whole truth. But, if that were the ultimate goal of this whole operation, I would have quit back in 2012. I would have stopped long before there were ever a one-year blogaversary or an annual showcase or a blog series. If money were the motive, I would have lost motivation from the outset.
I used to listen to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and apply that line “Nobody said it was easy” to my current relationship status. Now, I think about my life, my dreams and how foolish it is to think that attaining success is supposed to be some sort of cake walk. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If success were sitting right outside the door just waiting to be picked up, we would all be Beyoncé. But, hard work is the discriminator for success and a lot of people want to do just enough to get by. Dreams are a demanding son of a bitch, at least if you want to go from just dreaming to actually doing.
Sometimes I let my mind wander and dream about what life would be like if I were the kind of person who could just put in my time, come home, cook dinner and plop on the couch for the rest of the night. I think about what that life would look like, how it would feel to not always feel recklessly compelled to make my mark and sign everything with my stamp of 100% effort. I wonder about that life. On the bad days, I even crave that life. But, then I remember that it’s not the life I was built for. I wasn’t put here to just be here. I texted a friend about my longing for that life, and she said, “…While it sounds nice, that ain’t for women like you.”
I settled in after my hour-long drive Saturday night around 1 a.m. I emailed my graphic designer. I ordered showcase postcard invitations. I mapped out the work I had to do less than 12 hours from then once Sunday afternoon crept in and forced me out of bed on what used to be my day off. Now, I can only afford one weekend day off, and I still battle guilt about that day. But, I need that day. I need a safe place to call sanity.
Nobody said it was easy.
Nobody said it would always be fun or always go well. Nobody said that all of the hard work would just magically appear in your bank account one day. Maybe the Universe is making sure you know how to take care of all the shit you have before it bestows more upon you. Nobody said it was going to happen overnight. Nobody said it wouldn’t wear you out or break your back or force you to sacrifice. Nobody said it would be easy. But, I believe they said it would be worth it. And, the things worth having are usually the most difficult to obtain.