Have you ever seen one of those children's toys called a bop bag? They punch a plastic blow-up bag and it bops back up for them to punch it again? There are times in my life when I've felt very much like that bop bag. I get up, life bops me down and I just bop back up for another hit. Basically, just taking it. Well, this is the story of my journey so far, transitioning from the bop bag to the boxer.
I was considering different blog topics over this past weekend for topics regarding online marketers and trying to come up with something that would be of use to you. Since I'm starting my journey as an affiliate, I thought I'd start there. However, as I began looking into it, doing blogs about tips and tricks of the trade, how-to's, how-not-to's and the like just seemed like jumping into the middle of the story. I began mulling over unique ideas and trying to think of useful information that would be relateable, encouraging, beneficial or all three. Well, I suppose the best way to start any story is at it's beginning. My journey so far is the most unique thing I have to offer. I will continue learning and will revisit the advice side of things in the future, but right now, what I can offer is me. This will run a bit long, but I hope it will be encouraging for you. I'm a little nervous, but here we go.
A Long Time Ago on an Island Far, Far Away
I debated about how far back to go. However, when considering what it was that turned me towards the digital economy, turns out, it really did start a very long time ago.
Sitting a few hundred miles from me is the island of Whidbey. Incredible mountain views surround it on all sides, and they are beautiful, a view I still miss. Living on that island had its ups and downs just like any other place. I grew up there, moving to the island from Lynwood when I was 6 in 1989. Staring over the water at my favorite view point, I'd look longingly at the mountains. They were a constant reminder that there was something bigger out there. My eyes have always been full of wonder. I'm a dreamer, have been from birth, and the mountains which surrounded me were always calling. What's beyond? What's out there? Who can I be to the world around me?
As wonder filled as I was, the curveballs of life forced me to take a few unexpected hits. Not wanting to bother anyone with the hurt I felt, I suppressed it all and pulled away from people making me quite shy and a bit reclusive. Being on an island meant you were subject to its borders. The money it cost to ride the ferry made off island travel a luxery, which is why many of us refer affectionately (though sometimes not so affectionately) to the island as The Rock. Movies were my escape. Yes, I confess, I'm a movie nerd. Not so much these days but back then I'd binge watch movies (working at a video store fed that habit). So, I hid away. In retrospect I realize so many others have suffered far worse than I, but I was a teenager, and everything felt life-changing. We had a couple of deaths in the family, some slow through disease, others quick in an accident. My best friend and I drifted apart, I was practically invisible in high school etc etc. I let myself fade away and I've been working to break free of that and find myself again.
College and Beyond
College helped bring me out of my shell quite a bit. Since I didn't know what I wanted to do, I went for a general business degree because I knew by my Junior year I'd magically know what exactly I wanted to do. That didn't happen. Shocking I know. After graduating I moved back to the island to manage the Subway my parents had purchased in hopes of beefing up my resume'.
As anyone who has worked in such a business knows, at some point you hit the "I've had enough" point. It was time for me to try something new. I picked a place, Fort Collins Colorado, found a Team Lead position at a big chain pet store, found myself a furnished apartment within walking distance, packed up my little car as full as I could and drove off into the red, white, and blue sunset to live that adventurous American dream. Things didn't go quite as planned. I drove a couple of days, pulled into the parking lot of my new apartment, signed the lease, unpacked and then promptly crashed. The next day I walked over to my new job, introduced myself and was told "I'm not sure why he [the assistnant manager] said you could have the position. We don't actually have a spot for you." I was stunned. I'd just driven from Washington! She felt bad so she started looking for positions in other neighboring stores as I was over-qualified for the positions she did have. In the meantime I applied for other jobs with no hits. The manager got back to me and said there was a Team Lead spot available in the Cheyenne Wyoming store. I could go there until somethinng closer opened up. I agreed, but the 'something closer' never came. The hour long commute was sucking up gas and eating my little paychecks. Unfortunately that was the only 'eating' going on. I survived off of soup and bulk popcorn dropping 50 pounds in only a few months. I even sold plasma to get money for food. With no hits on resumes and the winter months quickly coming in , I knew I wouldn't be able to afford a heating bill. So, it was back to Subway and to The Rock.
If you read my other blog Disenchanted with the Cheese, you'll see how the return to Subway went. In the interum of that two year unemployment stint, I searched for jobs and volunteered at a dog shelter. One day, after I'd finished at the shelter, on a whim, I thought I'd reach out to an arctic wolf rescue in Oregon and see if maybe I could work for her. I sent her a salary I could work with, a resume, and whatever information I thought she might find useful so she knew my expectations. To my shock and delight, she called me back. We made arrangements and I drove many hours to the middle of nowhere to get a little hands-on experience with these beautiful animals in the boonies of Oregon. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Despite the salary I'd mentioned, she'd planned on paying me by letting me live in the house on the property and we were nowhere near a town I could work in to make up for lack of money. I'd spent a day helping with the tour group and with anything she asked of me. When I went to help her with chores the next morning, I was surprised when she sent me home. However, I was able to spend some time with the wolves and touch them through the fence. It was an experience I'll never forget. But, back again to The Rock I drove.
I do have more stories of course, but I didn't want this to turn into a novel...more than it has. The job world has failed me. I am not a victim, I am not unaware of my own shortcomings that put me on this path, but overall I'm burned out by the job world. Being dependent on other people for the kind of living I want has never worked out for me. For others it has, I know, but for me, it hasn't. I've been disappointed with employment and all my experience drives me to find a better solution. I've had a number of wake-up calls over the years which have driven me to change from the bop bag to the boxer, living life with intent instead of just taking hits. I'm taking more purposeful action in my life. Don't get me wrong, I still take hits, but I'm taking more action to avoid them. I've always been a driven person, but it's hard to be a person of drive with nowhere to drive to. It just feels like I've been going in circles. I work hard for any employer but my ambitions lie outside their walls. I continue looking for the mountains beyond. In my mad search for an alternative to the 9-5 type jobs, I discovered the digital economy. It took me about a year to find a company worth my time and money. I came across SFM, took a chance and clicked on one of their ads leading me to a free video series (click here if you'd like to see one similar to the one I saw, or the ad at the bottom of this blog will take you there). They coach, mentor and give you the tools you need as well as helping put you in communities of like-minded individuals to aid in your support. I now have a direction to drive in. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It does take work and for me, it's been frustrating, exciting, scary, and something totally new but the payoff is worth it. Having searched a long time digging into online career opportunities, I always felt they were just scams. However, I know for me, if I hadn't done it I'd always wonder 'what if', and that just doesn't work for me. No, much of what I've gone through and choices I've made haven't exactly worked out, but I don't regret them. I've come to realize life really is meant to be tried. If you know you'll always wonder 'what if' about a choice you are considering, maybe moving, getting a new job or writing that book you've always thought about, go for it. Don't be haunted by 'what if'. Be the boxer, not the bop bag.
"You've got to follow your passion. You've got to figure out what it is you love, who you really are, and have the courage to do that. I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams." -Oprah Winfrey