Don’t “Should” Yourself in the Foot

Hi friends! *Big inhale* What a time it is to be alive! Only 7 months into 2020, and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been!

As we head into our fourth month of self-quarantine, I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. Aside from the obvious restrictions, just like the rest of the world, I have struggled with what exactly my new “normal” is looking like, both mentally and emotionally.

Just one of the many consequences of this global pandemic is that we are now all being urged to hustle harder than ever. We are given examples of Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton (just to name a few) who all thrived while under lockdown. I’ve received newsletters and read countless articles from my fave magazine subscriptions urging me to use the presumed “downtime” I now have to learn a new skill, take on a high intensity workout routine, or “simply” declutter my life.

It’s as if, every second that I am not building towards these ”shoulds,” is a second wasted.

A should is an expectation IMPOSED by us or onto us. While they might seem like motivators, “shoulding” ourselves is actually a major energy drain as it forces us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once and is often wrapped in guilt and even shame. The pressure of it all is convincing AF.

Put your finger down if you ever feel like vegging out on the couch, eat everything in sight, and just do a whole lot of nothing, but then that little voice in your head tells you, “you should be more productive while you’re at home, sis…never waste a day on the couch,” so now you feel guilty mid-laze and shame yourself for not being as disciplined as others and bam…it’s no longer a day of R&R but rather anxiety just waiting to creep in … (*slowly puts finger down*)

HALOTOP2

There’s this common misconception that if we lounge around the house, we must also simultaneously take on a new hobby, like reading, for instance.

This imposed guilt is toxic imo, so that’s why, a few weeks back, I made a commit to cleanse from this “should” with the help of @halotopcreamery and actually celebrate that feel-good feeling from setting goals and taking action on my own terms, OKURRR!

Side note: Halo Top is ya girl’s fave ice cream, so big s/o to them for working with my sweet-toothed self!

But for real, Halo Top’s formula in itself has helped chip away at this “shoulding” culture, because all of our lives, we are told that: “we shouldn’t eat the whole pint,” or that, “ice cream should be a special treat.” But hallelujah that Halo Top is known for their fewer cal/less sugar because, under the latter imposed notion, every night must be a special occasion in my house, because I go through several pints a week, and I’m not mad bout’ it, LOL!

Anyway, as the month has gone on, life has only become even more hectic with the recent global social justice movement, we’ve been experiencing.

Days seem to move a bit slower for me and now more than ever, it has been imperative that I take extra care of little ol’ me.

I realized that up until this point, I have only robbed myself of the satisfaction of real, uninterrupted, rest. Listening to all the “shoulds” of this new era, has only left me never truly in the moment, but rather caught up in a story of another choice that could have been made.

So in efforts of a healthier cycle of self-love and self-care, I have been eliminating the “shoulds” that imply obligation and expectation. On the days, I decide to veg out, I’m going to commit to just that, with an extra pint of Halo Top, while I’m at it!

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After reflecting on the heaviness of the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that now is the time to take up space and be loud! We are all worthy of navigating on our own terms, especially as the world around us, is seemingly falling apart.

So to circle back to the daunting question many of us have been asked:

“Are you going to learn any new skills during the pandemic?

MY ANSWER:

…I already am. How to cope with the pandemic, how to get through the day knowing everyone I love is sad and scared, and how to read the news and still go on.

And all that is enough. I don’t have to come out of this with new skills, new projects, new expectations, or new accomplishments. What matters is that I come out of this”  –

So the next time I hear that little voice convincing me that, “I should never waste a day on the couch,” I will reply, “or maybe, there’s never been a better day than today, to be on that dang couch, mkay!!! (BIG CLAP)

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Indulge or hustle at your own accord, sis! Because, hennieee, you deserve that right.

How to Make the Leap and Transition Into Full-Time Blogging

I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I AM WRITING THIS PIECE!! AHH, WHAT A DREAM COME TRUE!

So before I proceed, I just have to say, THANK YOU to every single one of you for making this new chapter in my life possible! As y’all have probably noticed, my blog posts have been brought to a minimum in the past couple of months but that is because I’ve been working my bootayyy off in other realms to ensure this plan of mine panned out. Eek, still feels surreal!

MY JOURNEY:

So, lets go back 4 years ago (senior yr of college). I remember seconds before walking the stage, I said to myself, “I have no idea what the hell the next 4 years hold, but let’s effing gooooo” and moments later walked that stage with so much faith and happiness. But once the euphoria settled, I found myself job searching and unemployed in a coffee shop one week later. For those 8 long hours, I remember casually scrolling through my social media and seeing what felt like 95% of all my peers post offer letters to their first big-girl job! I was #Jelly . WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO?!

All throughout college, I held internships at some of my dream companies, but 0 full-time offers were made. I studied sociology and communication and had a focus in broadcast journalism. My passions lied specifically in sports broadcasting and entertainment reporting. And although I loved my university, I realized early on that my school did not provide the same resources or tools to those pursuing this specificity among the communication major than they did per say, those pursuing marketing or sales. So although discouraged, I had to remind myself that this was the not so traditional career path I decided to pursue.

One month later, I was working at my dream network! I was ecstatic! BUTTTT, as most of my friends were beginning their careers making 65K +, I was damn near surviving. I had to pick up two other jobs to live close to comfortably. WHAT HAVE I DONE?

But again, this was my passion. I was well aware it would take YEARS before I was making anything close to that and even longer before I was in placed in front of the camera…but it felt worth it to me! I wanted to give people an escape from all the ugliness going on in the world. I wanted to connect and engage with an audience, as I had in my college work. But as entry level as I was, those desires were obviously not being fulfilled. I felt so much fire and passion but had the inability to channel that energy.

SO I had an epiphany. Clearly, my energy was being misplaced. If the industry was not going to pave the way for me, I HAD to CREATE one for myself.

AND THIS IS WHERE THE JOURNEY TO THE UNTRADITIONAL ROUTE BEGAN.

After two years in the entertainment industry, I realized I could still work towards all those goals of connecting and “broadcasting” certain messages but through a different way. And in all honesty, a girl had to survive. I remember my mom telling me to think long term. She said, “although I know this is what you want to do, you are barely affording rent. Maybe you have to put your dream on hold and work in a higher paying industry for the time being.” And I remembered those words pained me. But through a shift of perspective, I realized I could still fulfill all those things but on a much micro level. I then had the idea of a podcast. I could still work a BS decent paying day job but have the ability to pour my passions into something I believed in after the 9-5. And that’s exactly what I did. Luckily at that time, my then bf had all the equipment to begin one. But life happened, shortly after, we broke-up and boom, here I was, sitting in an office cubicle, working in an industry that was so far removed from what I studied, left with with that same unfulfilled passion taunting me.

NOW WHAT? WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW TO CHANNEL MY PASSIONS AND TRUTH?

In that exact time, my dad unexpectedly passed away and I was left with this massive hole. My education and career meant everything to my dad. But here I was chasing this dream that felt unattainable, but even worse, working in an environment I loathed. At this point, I felt like an absolute failure. Now, several years out of college, I was not happy, not fulfilled, unsure of my career path, all while seeing my college buddies living their best lives, most in managerial positions within their companies, and not to mention…making the type of bank I could only dream of! Where did I go wrong? Did my decision to follow my dreams actually screw me over in the long term? Should I have just succumbed to a field that I hated from the beginning to at least propel me in any sort of direction professionally? I KNEW I WAS DESTINED FOR MORE, UGH!

These are questions I also projected onto my family and friends. My best friend was the person who nudged me. She said “you continuously asking all these questions will not get you anywhere. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.”

That next week, alllthatjas.com (this blog) was born. The day I finally began drafting my very first blog post, this feeling of overwhelming peace flushed over me. It almost felt like this was God’s and the universe’s way of saying, “I GOT CHU.” And even though, I was writing to my 1k family and friends on social media, that ability to FINALLY speak and channel all those years of pent of energies, was the most liberating feeling I had felt to that date.

Ugh, I remember sharing my post to my co-worker in that office and she said, “whoa, I’m actually really excited for you and want to read more, do you have any more content?!” And in that moment, I realized that exchange alone was the type of connection, I’d been longing for.

For that next year, I continued to share myself with my 1k audience. It was my only form on expression in a very monotonous unfulfilling corporate world. There were countless amount of days where I would look around the office thinking, “so many of us are working tirelessly towards a goal that isn’t our own!” Yes, we were crunching numbers every day, doing what we were told to do, but were any of us even fulfilled or most importantly happy?!

And although we saw our parents work these jobs, following the American way, by which if you work hard, you will then in turn have equal opportunity to become successful, did that mean we too had to follow this?

My personal beliefs led me to believe that the answer was a huge, fat, NO! Just because we are raised in cultures that teach us we must conform to a certain way of living, does not mean we have to continue in live in such a damaging vortex.

And every morning, I would read the following quote by Steve Jobs and remind myself that this was only temporary. A more fulfilling life lied ahead…

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.

Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs 

Every morning I felt inspired by his words to make something of myself, because that to me was the only way to get out of a world I hated so much.

Once bae and I began dating, I shared my dreams with him of one day, being able to work for myself and give 100% of me to issues and content that were actually fulfilling. (You can read how we began our journey in depth here: How to *Honestly* Balance the 9-5 With a Side Hustle ).

Ah, one year later, here we are. I’ve connected with so many souls and it all started here…sharing my unfiltered voice and experiences with the world.  This was what I was aiming to do… my entire life! This is where I am meant to be! I love it with my entire heart and soul!

THE DECISION

A few months ago, I realized I had come to the point where I just had to make that leap of faith and decide what I wanted for my life. I just felt like I was living a lie. I’m going into a space where even though I was physically present, my heart and soul were else where. I, day in and day out had this tugging on my heart which kept leading me back to this…my platform. HOLY CRAP, CAN I ACTUALLY DO THIS FULL-TIME? CAN I LET GO OF THE STABILITY OF THE FAMILIAR AND EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN?!

QUEUE THE ANXIETY, Y’ALL!

I had toyed around with this idea for years really, if you think about it, but naturally we are all wired to go with what feels safe. But remember y’all, “safe” can actually be detrimental. After all these struggling years, my mom understood my decision and that meant everything to me! And I’m sure if my dad were still here, he would too!

So I went in with the confidence in my abilities and self to be up front with my employer and ask for their support during this time. I honestly was a mess, as I thought they would laugh in my face and close the door on me. But, I feel they entirely blessed that they gave me the opportunity to transition out, so this is where we are at.

I seriously can’t believe I am manifesting all that I’ve ever dreamt about! I wanted that connection, that ability to channel my energies to what mattered to me, and no longer submit to a work culture that I felt was damaging on the human soul.

SO THE HOW:

*And this will look different for everyone*

  1. DOES THIS WORK SET YOUR SOUL ON FIRE?!
    • Yes, it mostly stems as a hobby, but make sure this is what brings you joy and fulfillment. If you can picture doing this for many many many more years to come, that is telling the longevity of your passion.
  2. TRUST IN YOUR ABILITIES TO SUCCEED:
    • Believe in thy self, sis! Have the understanding that you are a powerful force. You have the ability to manifest literally any single thing you envision for your life. Be your #1 fan! Know in your heart that you were created for something greater, now it is just your job to unfold what that looks like.
  3. REVISIT YOUR RATES:
    • If you have not already, create a media kit! This is where you pitch your rates to brands. But if you are thinking of transitioning into full-time blogging, you most likely will have to adjust your rates to your needs.
    • Calculate how many collaborations you would need to match your current salary or at least what could get you by.
  4. BE WILLING TO SACRIFICE: 
    • If your job does not support you in this decision, are you willing to leave the stability of your bi-weekly paycheck and pick up random gigs across the city?
    • Are you willing to be open to the uncertainties and judgements that come along with self-employment?
  5. HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND:
    • If shit hits the fan and blogging is slow for an entire month, would you be able to still pay the bills?!
    • I’ve read that having 3 months worth of funds is a good place to start thinking about this.
  6. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO WHOLEHEARTEDLY BELIEVE IN YOU. 
    • We only got time for those who see our greatest potential. Half ass energy and support is a definite NOOO at this stage. If this means to cut your circle in half, by all means!
  7. HAVE DISCIPLINE!
    • This is no longer a hobby, boo! This is your livelihood! Nourish it, give it more life every single day, and in this way, I truly believe it’ll give you that and then some long term!
  8. UNDERSTAND THAT IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?!
    • If you have a dream but you are allowing your fears, anxieties, family, friends, etc. etc. to hold you back, you will NEVER propel to where you were meant to be. There will be never be a “right” time. Ask yourself, “if I died tomorrow, could I look back and see that I was in pursuit of the life I had envisioned for myself?” JUST DO IT, BOO!

AHH, so I know this was long AF so kuddos if you are still here! I just know there are so many of us out there waiting on some sort of sign. If you are reading this and need the nudge to take your life to the next level, LET THIS BE IT! Trust me y’all! This is scary as hell for me, but I am so damn proud and grateful that I am manifesting all that I have struggled for and dreamt of. All those years of unfulfilment, feelings of inadequacy, defeat, comparison, dun, dun, dun…..SHE HAS FINALLY ARRIVED! I think it’s sooooo important to realize this is YOUR LIFE! There is no right way of going about it! Your path may look different than every single one around you, but sis, (or bro- lol), live your best life, #noragrets!

I love you all and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for letting me live out my wildest dreams!!!! XOXO, Jas ❤

 

How to *Honestly* Balance the 9-5 With a Side Hustle

As y’all know, ya girl is tired! HA. Working that 9-5, weekends, nights, and every hour in between ain’t easy!

…And whoever told ya it was, they’re lying! HA. In fact, I like to call it, one big, fat, messy, juggling act.

Like many of us, I initially created this space as an expressive outlet, a passion project, per se, to wind down after the 9-5. I knew “the dream” of building an online community and meaningful presence one day would require tons of sacrifice…  but dang, I really had no idea what that would eventually look like! And I think so many of us go into this blindly because we don’t actually have a frame of reference. We see these “glamorous” lifestyles of those in the influencer world while scrolling at our cubicles and wonder if we are destined for something greater. Blogging and IG gave me the freedom to explore those big questions and I am so entirely grateful. TIRED. BUT GRATEFUL. BUT I REPEAT, TIRED! HA..

At the end of the day, I DID ASK FOR THIS, we all did by signing up for it BUT since all I’ve ever heard were blanket statements as to how people really do make it work, I thought I would share the truth that I wish I heard, starting out.

The statements I always hear is that “time management” & “hard work” will be the trick! And althoughhh, there is truth to this, it is not always so black and white.

IT WILL VARY… IT WILL LOOK DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE! From the start of my social media journey through hitting 10K, I was working full time in an environment that was extremely low maintenance and flexible. I had the time to work on my passions while in the office without disrupting my role within the company. In addition to the time, I also had the energy and mental capacity to continue working once I returned home. And ultimately, I was able to attain that work-life balance everyone aims for. This was not to say, that is was EASY managing both my full-time job and side hustle, BUT it wouldn’t have been fair to share with the world that “time management” was my secret sauce in balancing the two, when in reality, it was my particular circumstances that allowed me to do so.

Now a days, that is soooo not the case! My current role is completely hands on and 10000x more demanding. I do not have the time to check my phone or work on my side projects while in the office. I work M-F, and weekends, 12 hour days, long commutes, and thats just my full-time position! Blogging and IG legitimately take up every single hour in between, excluding 1am to 5am. TEAM NO SLEEP!

HOW I DO IT: HUSTLE YOUR TIRED LITTLE HEART OUT

I’ve juggled, up to 4 jobs at once in my time but never have I been more exhausted YET fulfilled in my entire life. It is such a time consuming grind but this passion of mine is legit what sets my soul on fire! When you are creating with PURPOSE, all of your energies are put forth; physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. So slap on an extra 50-60 hour work week, it is likely you got one tired being! But what has kept my spirit ALIVE is the love I have for my craft. The itch I have to create and connect with others, keeps me afloat. But I know this is not for everyone. The amount of sacrifice and dedication this juggling act takes, is insane. Free time, who?!?! HAHA.

But I know it will all be worth while! There won’t just be some late nights and early mornings, but prepare to have ALL of your nights be late, and ALL of your mornings be early. Ya girl is tired AFFFF but also sooo freaking happy that I found the path that God has chosen for me! In the beginning, I honestly had no effing idea just how much work goes into this! I mean, posting photos of yourself? How hard can that actually be? LMAO! ….HARD. When your intent is to build an authentic community on here, you have to be willing to open your entire heart and soul to the world. Not only are you aiming to create beautiful content, but you are exploring what exactly your purpose is, and what about yourself makes you stand out from the rest. Its an emotional rollercoaster at times, because these are pressing questions that may take a lifetime for some to discover. But if you know in your heart, this is the path that makes you happy, liberated, excited, challenged, etc etc, you must go after it! And with force, tenacity, faith, and purpose! YOU WILL BE TIRED, IT WILL NOT BE EASY, BUT IF YOU WANT IT BAD ENOUGH, YOU WILL WORK TOWARDS THE BIGGER PICTURE.

WHAT IS THE BIGGER PICTURE?

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted a platform that served. I wanted to share my voice with the world. In those days, when I say voice, I actually mean, my vocal talents. My dad was a musician and his love for music had evidently passed onto me. As a baby, I would rehearse songs, before I could even make out full sentences. Up until college, this is what I knew for sure. I wanted to spread joy through my soulful sounds. But as college gave me other avenues to explore, my passion shifted into Sports and Entertainment Broadcasting. I fell in love with the idea of spreading relief from all of the ugliness in the world. But as I was finding my way in that industry, my morale suffered. That industry was a beast in itself. It wasn’t really what you knew, but who you knew.  Although, I was working for a large network, the ability to move up the ranks seemed utterly impossible. What was the use of having so much passion for a field, and the desire to share my knowledge with others, when the accessibility to do so was so slim. Rejection offer after rejection offer, it came to a point where I said, “if I can’t find my way in, I will make a way of my own.” And THIS is where my life AND perspective shifted. I already had a following on social media, how about, I create a sports/entertainment podcast from my home studio? I had the necessary equipment but, as I was drafting ideas, my life was shook TF up by a dramatic break up. So, once the dust settled, I began a new chapter of my life, singlehood! Fast forward a couple of months later and then my dad passes away. It was a crazy ass time. As a way of coping, I began journaling my experiences. After some push from my best friend, I finally channeled those thoughts onto WordPress AKA this blog! At the time, I had no idea if anyone would even care what I had to say. Ah, two years later, here we are! I’ve connected with so many souls and it all started here. ..sharing my unfiltered voice and experiences with the world.  This was what I was aiming to do… my entire life! This is where I am meant to be! I love it with my entire heart and soul! So long story long, my big picture, is to be able to do this full-time and inspire/connect with as many souls as possible! Until then…

CORPORATE WORLD-BY DAY

When I say, I have the best tribe out there, I truly mean it! I hear my phone buzz every few minutes and there is like this innate urge to want to respond and connect with every single message in that exact moment. But in my current workspace, 9/10 times that’s just not possible, UGH! This legit eats at me throughout the day. Ever since I was young, I’ve been notorious for “socializing” too much and like, not responding to my peeps in those moments, makes me feel just gross, HA!

During the few free moments I have while in the office, AKA water breaks, restroom breaks, etc. I’m like a ninja. It’s almost a game of mine, at this point. How many messages can I get to in the 1 minute walk to the restroom? How many comments can I respond to while sitting down on the toilet? How many emails can I sort through while buying food for lunch?

Once the work day is over, and after the almost 2 hour commute home, the real work begins.

From 6:30pm-1am is work mode.

BLOGGER-BY NIGHT

There are so many nights, where the work day has physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually depleted my energies. Some nights, all I want to do is Netflix & Chill with my little family or legit just knock out. But I understand, that is no longer an option. If I want to live out this dream as much as I say I do, I need to put in the work. But again, this is not to say, “time management will be key” but more like, “be prepared to spend every waking hour, grinding towards your dream!”

Once I walk through that door, I change hats and begin the blog grind. Dinner is usually eaten with both my laptop and phone in hand. Many times, if bae and I know we are crunched for time and especially if a post is due at a certain time that evening, dinner is often pushed to the side lines.

I usually schedule out my posts for the week, but this can vary depending on the commute home, brand approvals, etc.

Lets say a post of mine is scheduled for tonight at 8pm. All day, bae and I are sending edits of the photo back and forth. Once, I am home at 6:30, I finally get the chance to truly connect with y’all! In the midst of this, we are sometimes, frantically getting the post ready.

Once the post goes live, I reply to DMs & comments/working on a blog post until usually midnight. From midnight until 1am, I am responding to emails and/or bae and I are planning our next shoot.

In an industry where, lighting and looking glam is everything (well not everything but uber important) shooting after work, post sunset and/or when you look entirely wrecked after a long day, is not really an ideal situation. And this is not to say, many of us don’t find ways to shoot M-F buttttt again, it’s not ideal.

SOME WAYS THAT WE HAVE SHOT DURING THE WEEK:

+ Take note of when your office will be having early closures. Mine usually has one 1x a month so its not common but when they do, I try to schedule one massive shoot before sundown.

+Transition into shooting indoors. Again, the lighting or lack thereof, can be an issue here but I would suggest either purchasing professional lighting equipment for your house or shoot first thing in the AM.  For our recent Valentine’s Day Shoot, we did just this. Since bae and I both work long days, we were  not able to style this shoot until 9PM. We finished setting up at 1AM. 4 hours of ballon blowing, measurements of the roses, taping, light testing, etc. Since it was getting late, we decided to leave everything on the bed, sleep on the couch and shoot before we left for work in the morning. Needless to say, we only slept a few hours in order to get the shot in time! LOL, the full time struggs!

So again, it is doable but if you are a full-timer, weekends will mean everything!

WEEKENDS

I usually work every Saturday so yet again, my weekends are limited… but I try to schedule my shoots for the weekend on Friday evening. Depending on how many collabs I have to shoot, I either split my outfits between the two days or solely shoot them all on one. I try my best to give myself one full day of “rest” but working Saturdays, kind of eliminates that option. Sundays are usually the day, we wake up early, location scout, shoot, edit, and post in the evening. And the process begins again for the week.

LEARNING WHEN TO SAY NO AND REST

UGH! So although, the hustle is real! So is fatigue and burnout! I’m really the last person who should be giving advice about this but I am here to tell y’all that I’ve FELTTTT the repercussions of not properly doing this. It can actually be really scary, how quickly your body and mental health can deteriorate. I see it like this; if you are constantly “producing” and “creating” you are pouring a bit of yourself each and every time. But if you are not watering the pot, nourishing it with Vitamin Sleep, soon enough, it’ll leave you dry. Dry of creativity, motivation, etc etc. We are NOT machines that just “do,” we are physical beings that require regeneration. And I, along with many others, associate rest with unproductiveness, especially when we have a lot on our plate, but this is the biggest fallacy. When I actually force myself to stay home and rest, (yes I say force) I legit feel lighter. I feel refreshed. And just inspired AF. So rest thy body, sis!

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So, do I have this bullet point list on what you can do to juggle both? NOPE. Because it will vary on a case by case basis. And I’m still trying to figure it out. SOME WILL HAVE IT EASIER THAN OTHERS! SO DON’T GET WRAPPED UP IN THE COMPARISON GAME. Your productivity does not determine your worth! And for a long time, this “balance” may not be ideal, hell, there might not even be real balance at all…but I’d like to think, this is a work in progress. What I can say is that, though, this will take so much sacrifice, if you give this every single thing you have, it WILL all be worth it! I just know it! So, whatever it is that you’re in pursuit of, manifest that sh*t every single day and watch it unfold! OKURRR.