20 January 2018

Becoming self-employed, a year in review


I've been wanting to write this piece of text for, at least, 6 months now, but, for some reason or another, I've been deliberated postponing it. It or I just needed time.
I don't use this blog anymore, at all, last time I came here was probably more than one year ago, but I do think of it and look at it as my diary, or 'yearly', when I need to write down my thoughts of past events. My thoughts now come here after been maturated.
So, today, I was particularly ignited to write because there a lot of things that just need to be talked about.

Like I said, the last time I came and wrote here, was Nov. 2016 for "Thanksgiving" because, back then, I had recently made a decision which would have changed my life: I quitted my job and I started working by myself, meaning I became self-employed at the age of 27. A hell of a decision and my "one year recap post" got out of hand, so here it goes.

Bonobo on soundtrack, because some things never get old, let's go! It may take a few hours to get this done/organized (in my head too).


I'd start by recalling an ex work colleague of mine (from my previous job that is) who told me something, in my last days there, that keeps coming to my mind every now and then. I was confessing her all my fears and doubts natural from that moment and she said:
"Oh Sara, one year from now? You will only be regretting not to have quit before!"
And yes, it's true (although I know why I didn't do it before) which means everything went just fine.
Becoming self-employed was everything but difficult, the hard part was to quit actually! And about that, after almost 2 years, I now officially know I was a having a complete and clear burnout and, although I had no idea what that was at time, I'm proud I understood something was not right with me and took action.

When I say starting this job was "easy" for me I mean it was all very natural. Not all roses, but it went all very very smooth and natural. And this is my story:

I made the decision of quitting my job, in my mind first, on Jan. 2016 after having already a few months of hard time and when I officially started thinking about changing my life there was only one possible plan b which came straight in my head: English! I will work with the English language, come what may.
As a side job/hobby, I was tutoring children with private lessons of English at home for the past 5 years and the moment came when I enjoyed waaaaay much more my hobby than my job, and in my real job the only thing, in the end of my journey there, I enjoyed doing was when I had to write/speak in English, so that was my one and only plan b: to turn my hobby in my full-time job! That or I don't know!

 

English has always been present in my life, since I'm a child, mostly inspired by I don't know who or what (maybe my cousin who is my age and lives in the USA?) and it still is the only thing in the world who always kept my attention, no matter what.
I've always been very keen to languages and education. My dream was always to become a special education teacher, except this time I know exactly who is my all time nr. 1 source of inspiration: my primary school teacher, but life had other plans for me during 10 years. So, please, do imagine a person who did everything wrong for 10 years... that's me! Pleasure.

I thought it was a good idea to take a degree in an useless Engineering lol, which OF COURSE, I never used, then tried a Masters in a-not-so-useless-but-still-not-very-relevant-field, but which ultimately I believe put me where I needed. I never liked the topics I studied in both of my degrees, but at least, in the last, I had the chance to go abroad and study in 3 different countries and 4 institutions which were life time experiences and I'm forever grateful I took those chances. And guess what, one of the best parts of it was again the opportunity I had to improve and put in practice and learn more English. Lol Am I crazy? Is there anyone else out there who also loves something so... small and apparently irrelevant?
I guess I was not interested in all the papers and works I was doing for the universities, I was interested how I was gaining more and more vocabulary in English! That was what was triguing me. Just like what the final moments of my last job look like.

So, after 10 years after being deviated from what I should be doing since forever, the moment I decided I'd dedicate myself to teach English to children and adults (Jan.2016) was easy. Very easy indeed. Everything I needed (talk about finally getting out of that sick job, take new trainings, new work location, positive feedback, burocracy, etc.) came all very naturally. It was meant to be. And it took form on October 10th, 2016, so I worked 10 months for it. (And I probably opened up at 10 am that day, so I don't know what the number 10 means here!... anyone?!)


The feedback from people was immediate, because thankfully (chiché or not, who cares?!) everybody assumes English is an universal language, you need English for everything, children need for school, adults to work, families to travel, etc. and here I was with a successful business from the beginning.
And that's just exactly where I want to head now: what's success to me nowadays.

 

I redefined my definition of success a lot throughout the years, as I've always been very very ambitious, still am (hello there Capricorns!). Now, and since I tried the poison of negativity, success is what happens to me every morning when I wake up: I want to go to work, at the same time I'm not sure I work anymore, because I take great pleasure of what I do. Also, success for me and for this business is to be able to pay the bills from day one, this business has been paid itself alone from day one and that's success to me. I'm not making tons of money, I'm not making tons of money at all actually, but it was never my priority for this step in life I took. From the very first day I decided to do this, 2 years ago, I said: I know I will not earn half of what I could possible be earning here but it doesn't matter as long as I am happy and healthy and that is still just true. Although I am making more money than I ever expected, I'm not moving myself by it. After 1 year and a couple of months with the doors open, I'm still focused on creating a welcoming and good-vibes-only environment here, at the office.
Moreover, the 1st year was all about investments, so zero savings. The day will come when we'll need to talk about money.


I'd like to go through some thoughts about being self-employed - pros and cons randomly:

1) it's great to be your own boss, I was definitely born to be a manager and not an employee. I have hard time when people try to tell me what to do because 90% of the times I know what I want, what to do with my life or job-wise what's better or not for the task I have in hands;

2) I know, if the day comes, I'll be one those terrible bosses who control everything because that's what I do with my own job, I am assumedely a control freak. I like to have the control over everything (and please please don't even try to tell me how bad that is, I ALREADY KNOW), I wear all the hats - the cleaning lady, the teacher, the student, the accountant, the secretary, the decorator, ... - my project is still my baby, I couldn't hand these tasks to anyone (yet);

3) it's a 24/7 job, there are no weekends, schedules, holidays, days off, festivities, etc. who will stop you. I am working even when I'm not working. I don't know what it means to not to think about it anymore. My daily work hours are average 10h-12h.


4) it's not only about the people liking you, it's about you liking them! And coming to this conclusion was so so self-liberating! Since I run a private school and I'm not working in the public sector, I don't expect ANYONE to come here if they don't want to, it's not in any way mandatory, so you will have to be harsh and show it's your business and who runs it! - this takes us to the next point;

5) eventually, you will have to make not so popular decisions for your own and business sake. During the first year, I was vulnerable and easy going and almost everything was permitted just for the sake of pleasuring people, which made perfect sense - the business was super recent, I had to gain the trust of people, I needed to understand what I was building (still am), etc. - and so, there were many things I did just to cause a good first impression. Not anymore. Of course the business grew from one year to another, and it's not because I'm swimming in money I now have the guts to say some no's, but it helps and you gotta show some respect too or you'll loose it all;

6) don't listen to 99% of what people will want to tell to you, they have never been in your shoes and don't expect people to know about something that was never created before. Like, I love it when people start a sentence with "you should do this..." and bam! I am immediately off, because, alas!, what I should do is exactly the opposite of what you are saying. Trust your guts, really trust your intuition! Especially if it's a very personal and emotional project;


7) especially during the first year, allow yourself plenty of trial and error work, but better define some ground rules asap, like keep people responsible with payments, schedules, etc.

8) get ready to say goodbye to people, family members and friends, who might just not fit in your life anymore. Never had you felt so "you" and comfortable with life before, so you know, in that moment, that's your true "you", at last! Inspiration and good advices will come way out of your comfort zone. My type of business can be a very lonely one, since I am working alone and by myself most part of the days and I came to the conclusion all my inspiration are people I never met, just heard their experiences or stories through interviews or podcasts (which I'm addicted recently). Unfortunately, I felt I needed to take a break from most of my friends, old and new, beacuse this was a very reflexive period in my life and you need people who are equally inspirational as you want to be*. I'm working so hard, I suddenly don't have schedules, I love a good glass of wine, I love movies, I love poetry, I love nature, I love intelligent people, I like tolerant people, I love elegance and good maners, I love interesting people in general, I don't like when people talk shit or trends, I am so hard on myself too, etc. so one day I realized I had just 1 or 2 people in my life who could understand and share these likes with me or better, who I'd took pleasure to be with, so I decided to cut most of them from my life. Yes, I was always very good at cutting people from my life too! 


Despite of all I just listed down, it wasn't until this January, new year resolutions ah!, that I decided to take some action on things that needed to be changed. After coming from a 2 week vacation in the USA (which btw was very good and bad at the same time, good because it was a much needed break for me - the first time off in a year and a half - and bad because, among others, I came to the clear conclusion that American style is just not for me), January blues were hitting me hard for the first 2 weeks of the month (I was feeling depressed, not motivated for my super special job and all I wanted to do was sleep), so something was wrong, very wrong. After listening to Sophia Amorusso with Garance Dore interview on podcast, I understood what was wrong: small things, small things were "killing" me, job-wise and personal matters. So I started changing them, just like that, overnight.

Job-wise, let me tell you, some students just don't worth it (your time and dedication) and this job was created 1st of all for me, by me and for me, so I am the 1st person who needs to feel good in and with it. That's why I am about to make 1 or 2 of those not so popular decisions just because not all students are great people. And that's also success to me, being able to make my own decisions for better (even if I'm loosing money, aaah the business side!, but then again, it's not just about it).

 

So, yeah, don't even hesitate if one day you too have to make the leap in your life, whatever it is.
After all my love and dedication for this period of my life, needless to say, I am already thinking about my next big move, because I know me... Always on the move!

Until next year

*The day has come when some people (3 I guess! lol) told me I was an inspiration for them. 3 people in this universe think me and my story are an inspiration! That's also success to me now! It probably means I am doing something right... ;)

4 February 2017

28

Nunca liguei muito a aniversários e lembro-me que a última vez que quis festejar um foi aos 18 anos.
Depois, há 4 anos, enquanto estava em Itália, também festejei porque, claro, ali festejava-se tudo! Na altura, não estava propriamente ciente do momento único que estava a viver, mas sei-o melhor hoje.
E depois, houve 2017 e os 28! Fiz muita questão de celebrar! Quis que fosse um dia/ano diferente e foi. :) Uma bela sexta-feira 13 e um sábado ainda melhor!






2 January 2017

2016 was a lot of this. Thank you

“I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved.”






One fine Christmas morning!

One of my dearest memories from my family trip to Germany in 2014 (more here & here & here) was that dreamy morning when we woke up to a mantle of white! First day of snow in years! My german family kept saying it was a blessing because we were all there together for the first too. :)
I remember waking up with the smell of coffee and fresh orange juice spreaded all over the house and looking at the window just to see some kind of magic: snow falling. So, me and my little monkeys spent a sweet moment playing, watching the snow outside, feeling cozy in our pj's...
That morning is very alive in my memory and it is as if I still feel the smell, warm and joiness of that moment!






27 November 2016

Thankful

I have this post written in my head for a few weeks already, yes I've been constructing it mentally for awhile, and with the (American) Thanksgiving Day I thought it would be appropriate time to write it down - meaning: to stop and take the time needed to be thankful.

This year, I have so much to be thankful for I don't even know where to start.

It all started with the worst year of my life, 2015. 2015 was so bad and uninspiring that at some point I honestly felt very close to a complete burnout (I wrote about it here and here - ouch!!). But, thankfully, I'm a person of big decisions and I could, by myself, make the turn to better ones.

I don't know if any of you (you! eheh I'm not sure anyone reads this blog anymore, but it doesn't matter) have ever experienced a bad job. And by bad, I mean, really bad. Ok, so, that was what happened to me for a year or so.

I started my job in 2014, after an internship in the same place the previous year. Both the beginning and the internship where great experiences, it was the revelations that can only come with time that made it the worst thing in the universe for me!

As I said, in the beginning, it was fantastic because I was just back from several academic experiences abroad so I was 'fresh blood' full of energy, a kid happy with the idea of getting her first job (decently well-payed), seen almost like a super star because I had a good comprehension of English (which was really needed) and because I had no family (I wasn't an adult with children, husband and routines - you know?), therefore, no timetables setted up neither. I made them feel I was 24/7 living for it and the truth is, I actually was. Until I stopped being! Lol

As time went by, by mid 2015, I started to feel very disappointed, I started to get to know and to understand the meanderings of the job, the institution itself and it all reveiled like a fraud to me. Everything I heard about it before I get in, was rubbish.

Also, I was in a place that was new to me but obviously not new for most of the people I was working with - most of them worked there for their entire lives - so, they had lots of bickers and work vicious too, and specially this last one, was what I started to struggle with. I started to disagree with their modus operandi and felt everything was done to 'show' something, like just for marketing purposes and to let people thinking we were actually doing something, always super busy bees, when we actually were not. :) You know? Yeah... That and worst.

In a nutshell, I lost the credibility on that job, in what I was doing and in the instituition in general. So much that I honestly think nobody actually does anything there, just pretending! Pretend you're super dupper busy and that's it! It should be enough. Ah, you fools!

The worst piece of this scenario was my boss too. I don't care about her anymore, but there was a period in my life when she was a nightmare for me and I could only talk about how bad she was. For months and months. It was exhausting!

So, in the end of 2015, I went to Miami for Christmas and I was away for 3 weeks. That was THE turning point in my life! After a few days in Miami, I felt SO GOOD that I couldn't remember the last time I felt that way and that's how I felt during my whole stay. It wasn't just because I was on holiday or the good weather, or because I was with family I love, it was more than that... I was far, very far, from the toxic environment I was living in. My family did, indeed, provide me a memorable stay, as always, but I was truly happy, inside me. Like, clear and inner happiness I almost forgot it was possible for months. How sad! So, when I returned home, in January, to a new year, my decision was made: 2016 would be a completely different year! I would quit my job and start doing only what makes me happy (read here and here - yeah!!). (It's Nov. 27th today and I have tears rolling down my face with happiness that I accomplished it all! :) )

I remember reading this post and feeling so inspiring about her story and how similar I felt (I read a lot of life changing texts this past year and assumed my life could be changed too), I wrote a long email to my cousin who lives in Miami thanking them for everything, sharing my decision and starting working for quitting - 5 months that is!

I made the job until the beginning of June and after 2 years, on June 3rd, it was my last day there, never to look back! :) I left without saying a word to my ex-boss and co-workers and I still laugh out loud with the moment! The last months were horrible of course, but not the worst because I had my mind set that it would be only temporary and everything I was doing was done with the state of mind of whom just simply don't care. Inside me, I had gave up everything on that job long before I quit and that's how I stayed on top for the worst period of my life and left feeling somehow 'superior'. Excuse me the seeming arrogance.

After quitting, I enjoyed Summer very very well (the 3 weeks after I quit I did nothing but everything I wanted!), I started working on my current personal project, which already started in October (perhaps I'll feel the need to talk about it later) and now I am happy as f***!!! Ever since I left my previous job, I never thought or talked about it anymore. I turned the page on that chapter of my life, interiorize everything good and bad that happened to me and moved forward.

I'm now a happy kid doing something I always loved but never looked at it as a possibility and I've preparing it since January. By September 2016, I had finish 3 important courses and an incredible exam which changed my life. It was a dream come true that was always with me and just needed to be taken serious to become true and it was as simple as that! I'd like to thank my family who lives in Miami, they had a greater impact on this story than they think, my boyfriend for listen to me (it is so important to have someone you can trust and talk to) and for suggesting me (very casually on a January Sunday lunch) changing job to what I'm doing now and my brother for all the real help in the last 3 months.

I can say I have now in my life a lot of 'things' I've dreamt about in the past and I learnt that everything I want will eventually happen/come, only in the right timing - not in the exact initial moment I want (one of them arrived exaclty one week ago, after 5 years!).
For all of this, and a lot of other things that happened to me along the way, I'm super grateful for my life.
'What an year!' said my cousin to me last week! Yes, what an year it has been!

“Here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”










 
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