There is this really rough phase between starting and succeeding. I mentioned in an earlier post that we need to stop glorifying the hustle – but that the hustle is a necessary phase. My hustle phase was either 15 months or 32 years, depending on who you ask. It took me a while to learn that there is a place beyond the drown/struggle/hustle cycle, and another good bit of time to figure out how to get there.
This period of my life looked like all kinds of ugly (and a lot of beautiful, too. We’ll get to that) – I struggled through abusive relationships, homelessness, mental illness, single parenthood, poverty, and just plain being a bitch ass loser. I struggled as I ran businesses that, despite my absolute obsession with business, I couldn’t quite get over the hump. They sustained us, but just barely. I was not hustling – I was only struggling. It wasn’t a business problem, it was a me problem.
Fast forward to January of 2016. I had been struggling hard for a few months. Baling water, slipping under, coming up for deep breaths and a glimpse of the sun – only to feel the water creeping up to my eyes again. I did one little thing, meant to be temporary, meant to be a rope to help me cling to my capsized and holey boat. It turned out to be a brand new boat, with two shiny paddles. Enter Hustle.
For a while there I was spinning in circles, just happy to be afloat. Just happy to be in control. Just happy to be dry and hustling. Pretty soon my arms got tired AF and I realized I wasn’t going anywhere. I noticed all of the boats knocking against each other around me, spinning in their circles, not getting anywhere. Every once in a while, I would catch a glimpse of someone floating by, seemingly carefree. Who are those assholes?!? Why are they are lucky?!
I started creepin. Listening in from the corners of Facebook groups I felt I had not one damn bit of business being in – because these were real people. These were people who had shit figured out. They had nice hair and nice clothes and nice families and nice fluffy bank accounts. They even had life insurance, guys. They had wreaths on their front doors, which is like the ultimate fucking indication that Inside This Home, Real Thriving Shit-Together Adults Reside. But I creeped and I started learning about what life can look like. Oooooh my dear was it beautiful and unattainable.
I was poor from poor people who snuggle up to their poorness and wear it as a badge of honor. We struggle. We are proud of our struggle. We got that gumption man. We are born of sticktoitiveness and something else we won’t call desperation, but it is. We hustle and claw and feastfaminefeast and dream of the day that winning lottery ticket will be ours. This is who I am. I am not the Hamptons and Key West and your $3500 drumming circle on a private beach in Cabo. I am my car out for repo and expired tabs. I am that hot pink electric shut off notice hanging from a crooked doorknob.
But I want to be more.
But I want to be more.
But I want to be more.
BUT. I. AM. MORE.
How that statement began to impact my life was crazy – and scary. I felt I was more but I had no idea how to be more. Money started showing up, more money than I had ever made, so fast I couldn’t even take time to process what was happening. Do you know what happens when you are your poverty and suddenly you’re above the poverty line because people are throwing money at you? Do you know what happens when you go from hoofing it with four kids to the grocery store to stretch your last $20 in food stamps on something to feed everyone for a week….to buying a car for cash, virtually overnight?
You lose your sense of self. Your identity, in fell swoop, is gone.
I knew I wanted to be more. I could see other people being more. I just couldn’t bridge the gap between who I was and what “more” might look like for me, the perpetually struggling Mich. The fuckup loser that is endearingly broken and flaky and can always be counted on for a good pipedream. This is who I am. So, what is a fuckup loser to do when they double their annual income in six weeks?
Burn it down, bitches.
I’ve always known I was a pro at self-sabotage, but holy damn did I impress myself with my ability to completely screw myself over. First, I spent every dime. Then I drove my business into the ground. Then, I sunk into a depression so deep and dark I didn’t think I would ever climb back out of poverty, or self-loathing, or fuckupitude.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time on that, maybe another post we’ll dive into the Year of Darkness. Right now…I’ll just say, it sucked, but I committed myself to self care, mindset work, and letting it happen. So I climbed out, inch by inch, day by day, rock by rock. That’s another post, too.
When I was out, I looked around and realized that somehow…the world had changed, and in that nasty dark hole…I had changed, too. I climbed out more. Comfortable in the fact that maybe I could belong in the keys, or the hamptons, or maybe even the drumming circle on a private beach in cabo. Comfortable with the idea that I could make, and even not spend, 100k a year, or more. Comfortable in thing that had left me a shell shocked and horrified ghost the year before – maybe, just maybe, I could have all of this without struggling. Without hustling every minute to still feel inadequate and undeserving.
So I came back in 2018, after a full year of my life mortified, hiding in shame and fear. I came back finally ready, equipped with lessons and insight. The first lesson was to abandon hustle. Completely. I would not, for any reason, go back to 80 hour weeks in exchange for 2k months. No sir.
Somehow, the bills are being paid. Debts are being paid. I work fewer than 30 hours a week, with clients that show up and are amazing and push me to do better work than I’ve ever done. We are getting ready to finally get back to a life we have been fighting for over the past 2.5 years…because I gave up the fight. I learned to set my intentions and allow the flow of my intention to carry us toward my desired outcome.