Part 2/5: Trial of the Side Hustle
This post is part two of my 5-day countdown blog series I kicked off yesterday in honor of my departure from my corporate job.
On December 2nd, I went to a yoga + meditation event. Like me, most of the attendees worked full-time at a company and spent their weekends at these events for self-care. I didn’t know anyone, but it was all good because I never had a problem with being a loner or introducing myself to strangers. At the end of the event, it was time to network, and I found myself in a conversation with a small group of people. One girl worked at a PR firm and mentioned about how she started working on the side for influencers and building their PR. Another girl mentioned about how she was getting her Master’s Degree and just started interning for a health foods startup. For weeks before the event, I tossed around the idea of marketing consulting on the side to see if it could be viable way of making a living so that I could leave my job. Even though I knew I couldn’t let my company ever catch wind of this, I put it out to the Universe and told these lovely strangers that I’ve been considering this side hustle idea. I graciously asked for tips and insight on what it was like, and we exchanged contact info with the intention of staying in touch.
Two days later, I unexpectedly received a text from the girl who was interning at the startup, asking on behalf of the founder if I’d be interested in some marketing consulting work. It was a gift that just fell from the sky. And for the first time in a long time, I felt that I was being supported in a divine way. For most of my life, I always said that whatever is meant to be is meant to be, but secretly, I totally believed that I had at least some control over getting the outcomes I wanted.
A part of me was ecstatic for the opportunity and the other part of me was shitting bricks.
I had worked in brand management and marketing for over six years at this point at some of the largest, best-in-class FMCG companies. But I never worked alone or thought 100% independently to make recommendations for someone else’s brand for pay. I knew that I had to just go for it and give it my all because there was a reason the gig came to me when it did. Looking back, it was all sort of divine timing. I started getting the itch and daydreamed what it would be like to leave corporate, this consulting opportunity came about, and I reassessed my relationship with one of my biggest blocks from actually pursuing my dream – my relationship with money hence the no-shopping commitment as my New Year's resolution. I believe all of this was God’s way of nudging me out of my comfort zone and to teach me a lesson on valuing my self-worth, detaching titles and money as the success factors, for the plans unknown ahead of me.
I was brought on to consult by January, and until mid-March I was working pretty much seven days a week. Spreading myself over a full-time job plus a side hustle was all-consuming of my time and energy. I stopped taking care of myself, skipping workouts and eating poorly. Although I had free reign to propose the work I thought was needed to improve what was already in place for the brand, it was terrifying to do it alone. Working at a large company and on a team, I was used to having the safety net of feedback and others to validate or help improve my ideas. Working independently, I had nowhere to hide or anyone to pass off some of the responsibility to if my ideas didn’t land well.
The first half of my time working as a consultant was more challenging than when I first entered my marketing career at a ripe 21-years old, working 12- to 14-hour days. This part of the side hustle was dark. All the anxiety I used to experience when I was burning out came back ten-fold. I started to stress eat, felt depressed, and I cried. And I cried. And I cried some more. Even though I had experience to give me the credibility to do the job, I still didn’t feel confident or that I deserved to be charging someone for my consulting service. I suffered from serious imposter syndrome. I had six plus years of legitimate brand marketing experience and a Master’s Degree in Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing & Management (quite niche, but I promise all marketing is pretty much the same). Even with my accomplishments, I doubted myself, my intelligence, and my worth. But I couldn’t give up. It was not an option for me because this wasn't the first time I had felt like this, so I just had to figure it out.
I tried to lean on meditation, but I was still pretty new to it and couldn’t manage to slow down my mind. I was in dire need of stopping the crazy, negative thoughts in my head. Enter tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Tapping therapy is “a self-help technique that involves tapping near the end points of ‘energy meridians’ located around the body in order to reduce tension and promote a deeper mind-body connection” (draxe.com). The practice is a marriage of acupuncture-meets-affirmation. I learned this technique in a workshop with Sara DiVello at the W.E.L.L. Summit event a couple months prior. I was in complete desperation to work through my fears and doubts, and thankfully tapping helped me complete my side hustle work.
By the time I was halfway through my scope of work with the startup, I was faring much better. Most of the anxiety dissipated, my confidence grew, and I didn’t need to tap as much for side hustle reasons. I proved to myself that I indeed knew what I was talking about when it came to branding and marketing, and I realized that I had some of the best-in-class training from my job experiences. Most people with a background similar to mine are still at large corporations, so I actually benefitted from being the black sheep, stepping away and trying something outside of the common. I had an advantage which made me unique and different. It was also relieving to see that I had an option to generate income outside of my full-time job, and that if I wanted, I could make more than my current salary.
Since March, I hadn’t picked up another marketing consulting gig. I wanted to take a break and also re-evaluate whether I truly wanted to consult as the next job in my career. I still wholeheartedly believed and knew that I could if I wanted and that I would be successful.
But even though I had the satisfaction of this self-confidence, the work wasn’t enough of stepping out of the “box” for me.
Funny to say this since I was so uncomfortable with it when I first gave it a try! I just couldn’t put this feeling into words at the time or for another few months. This experience pushed me farther than I could've ever imagined and made me demand even more from myself of what I deserved – freedom to be me, not in a suffocating "box." What became certain during this side hustle period was that I needed to leave my full-time job by the beginning of April which was my one-year anniversary at Unilever.
More to come in my next post on my journey to leaving my 9-5.
Side note: I never told my full-time workplace that I was doing this side hustle🙊, but I had to do me.
Drop me a comment, DM on Instagram, or email if you have questions or just want to shout, “Hey! I know what you were feeling.” <3