This has to be my favorite time of year–Christmas, followed by a relaxing, (mostly) work-free week before New Years. I have been using this week to spend time with my loved ones and have been waking up slowly and taking things easy. What better way to reset for a new year than taking a little extra time to slow down and reset? I’ve also been taking the days to reflect on the past year, and I’ll be honest, 2016 presented many challenges for me. In fact, this year has been perhaps the toughest of my adult life. I went off completely on my own this year professionally and I must admit, I was scared shitless, and at times, I’m still scared shitless. Not having the comfort of knowing exactly what income you’re going to make and when is both terrifying and liberating. It forced me to stretch outside of my comfort zone and get creative. And that’s precisely what I did.
I’ve always been hard on myself. I think most driven people are, but this year I was too hard on myself to a fault. As I look back, I worked on so many different projects with new and exciting, creative people and I’m actually really proud of all the work I was able to hustle for myself. I got to work for brands I really respect, like Refinery29 and ULTA. I went to Sundance this year for the first time ever, and started a new partnership with Sally Beauty. I’ve taken on roles as a freelance writer, a video producer, and even a creative director. No job was too big or too small for me this year. I said yes to every opportunity that came my way, and slowly, it started to pay off. That’s not to say there weren’t months that went by with little work that left me totally doubting this freelance / work-for-yourself world, but it was in those moments I learned what I was made of. It forced me to keep brainstorming ideas, pitch concepts to people I had never met, and yes, do a little LinkedIn stalking to get in contact with the head of a huge media company who ultimately hired me to host and produce a pilot.
I’ve created business relationships, and even better, friendships with EICs, CEOs and Directors. And what I’ve found to be the coolest part of it all, they seem eager and excited to build relationships with me. I left my job at POPSUGAR in February after almost 6 years of working for them, which is a large majority of my professional career. I learned so much from my time there, but I also knew that my time there was up. I ended my tenure there by co-hosting ABC’s “On the Red Carpet at the Oscars,” which had been a dream of mine since before I can remember. It was a total pinch me moment and I’m so proud that POPSUGAR let me represent them there. The fact that I got to go out on such a high made the lows even worse once I realized that I no longer was going back to the place that I used to call home.
Honestly, it was like going through a break-up. Some days were worse than others, and somedays I wanted to stay in bed all day… and somedays I did. But I quickly pulled myself up, and actually started a new deal with R29 just a week later. I really didn’t know how I was going to make a living for myself, especially one that matched the income I was making before, where I was paid on a TV salary. But some how, some way, I did it. And guess what? I just tallied my numbers and I made more this year than ever before. How? Because like I said earlier no job was too small, and those smaller jobs add up.
As I further look back on this year, I travelled a ton. Being an “influencer” and constantly monitoring Instagram, it’s easy to feel down on yourself that you’re not doing enough, especially with all of the gorgeous content from far off places that people are posting. But then I took a step back and counted the flights, cities, and countries. I took 32 flights, visited 22 cities, and 3 countries–that’s a lot! I visited the bohemian city of Tulum for the first time, explored Quito, Ecuador, and went to a place most people will only dream of visiting–the Galapagos. I traveled for work a ton (hello Utah, NYC, Florida, and SF) and made plenty of time for play. Traveling opens up the mind and reinvigorates the soul, and I plan to continue getting even more stamps in my passport in 2017. My advice to you, go out and see the world. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, go somewhere, anywhere and expand your mind! Up next for me? Cuba, Chiapas Mexico, and Nicaragua followed by Iceland. The time is now!
I end 2016 with a completely new perspective and appreciation for anyone who is or has ever gone out on their own. It’s the scariest leap I have ever taken, and I’m slowly watching it pay off. This year brought me a lot of self doubt, but sometimes we need to get down on ourselves in order to go back up. I start 2017 with an exciting outlook–I have several steady gigs in rotation, and I am starting a skincare line called Mara. Talk about just going for it! I’m on the steepest learning curve of my life and I am loving every second of it. I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing group of family and friends who are helping me along this journey. I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds!
I want to end this post by saying that if you, or anyone you know, is having a hard time with work–know that nothing is permanent and things will change. There were times that I felt so alone and thought I would never work again, but you have to have faith in yourself and listen to the direction life points you in, because everything works itself out in the end. I encourage you to write out your experiences this year in your own #MYODETO2016. Cheers to a wonderful 2017! And while I don’t actually believe in New Years Resolutions (I believe resolutions should be a year round affair) here are some of mine.
— Read more
— Try playing the piano (again, really didn’t like it in grade school)
— See the world (or at least three new places)
— Reach out to old friends
— Build a company
— Get dressed everyday (the life of a freelancer…)
— Purge anything in my life that doesn’t make me happy
— Try and find the positive in every situation
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