I'm not an expert here, unfortunately. I'm still in the 'trying' phase. But once I come up with a concise list of guaranteed steps towards becoming a successful go-getter, I'll be sure to write a kick butt blog post about it.
Until then, I do have some ideas about skills that I think are important to practice in order to be a girl who works for herself and creates stuff and runs her own life. These are things I've definitely been trying to do over the past year (and to some extent, have done).
start a completely independent side hustle
So chances are you're a normal person going to school or working a normal job. That's your main hustle. But in your free time (even if you have basically none of it) go create a project for yourself. Something that nobody wants or expects or asks you to do. Just something you want to do. And then get used to calling the shots and coming up with all the ideas and feeling awkward and keeping it going even when it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. That's what idea chasers have to do.
start a side hustle for your side hustle
Okay, stay with me here. So I'm guessing a lot of the people reading this have blogs of their own already (hey blogging buds), and are wayyy too busy as it is. But if you're ever feeling kinda stuck or unsure about your blog or current project, I'd encourage you to try out another opportunity as well. This year, I've started writing for my school newspaper and thelala.com in addition to my personal blog. And it has done wonders, people. Aside from making me feel like a wonder woman for being so #productive, I've also been gaining new skills. At The Lala I've been writing unashamedly political articles, which has made me feel less timid about my writing in general, and at the newspaper I've been conducting interviews with strangers, which makes me eager to reach out and possibly collaborate with more people in the blogging community.
Research marketable skills
Whenever I stumble upon any kind of website, organization, association, publication (any other -ation words you can think of) that I find really, really cool, I do two things: 1.) I explore their content and read about who they are, and 2.) I look at their job listings. Now, as a freshman in college I'm not really in the market for serious jobs. But I like to see if they accept interns (starting a mental list in my mind for the future) and what qualifications they look for in applicants. Writing experience? Got that. Photography? I could work on that more. Web design? I should learn that. Coding/ computer stuff? I should learn some of that, too. If you're not entirely sure what you want to do but you do know what kind of place you'd like to be a part of, this is a good strategy. And then put it in your mental calendar to start slowly learning those things.
Come up with ideas. Talk about them. Write them down.
I've been thinking of big ideas up the kazoo lately, and I typically dump them all on my mom whenever I go home on vacations. I have a running list of ideas in my brain that I'm constantly adding to: ideas to update and expand my blog in crazy ways, ideas for films and videos, ideas for research projects... I even have an idea for a business (and I think it's a pretty good one.) Now, these things are obviously very hypothetical, and most of them won't happen. But thinking about them (and planning them, discussing them, and writing them down) is good practice for any of my future ideas that could, one day, become real life.
Research people who inspire you and figure out how they got there
I think that getting from "trying" to "being successful" is a series of knowing the right people, and doing the right things. That is obviously very broad, and not exactly helpful for somebody trying to figure out the steps. But whenever I find a new inspiring idea chaser, I like to hunt for the specific path they took to where they are. I like attending lectures and Q&As with people who come to my university (filmmakers, authors, business people, creatives) and trying to pin down exactly what experiences led them to where they are. A successful businesswoman who helps run Disney? She started her career by taking every single arts administration opportunity that came to her college. One of those opportunities happened to be some afternoon volunteer work for a regional Disney audition. A documentary filmmaker explained how an organization gave him a scholarship to apprentice for a successful filmmaker. These things are still broad, but they give you a more specific idea of where you could start. Are there any volunteer opportunities at my university that I'm interested in? Are there any scholarship organizations for my field?
Participate in what inspires you, even if you don't feel like you belong.
I have a sort of irrational fear of twitter, but I know I've been missing out on the blog twitter chats that exist over there. I've been avoiding them for two big reasons: 1.) I'm not an expert on using twitter and 2.) I'm definitely not an expert on blogging. I don't know what I would possibly contribute, and I know I wouldn't feel experienced enough to 'belong.' Similarly, I recently attended a photography meet up in Indianapolis. I was afraid that it would be full of professional photographers whipping out their fancy cameras. Guess what? It was. But my friends and I had fun anyways, and I took lots of pictures on my bright red starter dslr. Who cares if you're qualified? Who cares if you 'belong'? Everybody's a beginner at some point. The only way to stop being a beginner is to keep doing it.
Give yourself opportunities to be criticized. And then brush off the criticism.
I, like many young ambitious people, try really hard. I put a lot of effort into everything I do, and when somebody tells me it's bad? Well, I take it to heart. I might cry in the shower a little bit, write an emotional journal entry, question my existence. But here's what I know: every time you 'put yourself out there' (publish a blog, share an idea with someone, post a photo on social media, etc) you're giving people opportunities to criticize you. And they will. Maybe it'll be direct, like someone telling you that your idea is just ehhh when you though it was holy-smokes-fantastic. Or maybe it'll be indirect, like posting a blog that nobody comments on, or only gets 20 repins on Pinterest. But either way, it'll start to matter less and less. You'll still feel the 'I'm bad??!?!' feeling inside of you, but it'll go away faster and faster. The fact that you aren't perfect will be old, boring news. Everybody already knows that, after all. No need to cry in the shower.
Whew, that was long. But you know me, when I give tips I like to give all the tips.
Do you have anything you've been doing lately to be more of a girlboss or idea chaser? Let me know in the comments!