Listen Up: Collecting (Good) Advice from Others

Besides the overwhelmingly creative side hustles I get to encounter daily in your submissions, what I most look forward to reading is your advice to others. It’s raw, honest, and (I assume) self-directed most of the time.

I have never been very good at following my own advice but have always loved collecting it from others. During my second year in Charleston, I lived with two friends in a walk-up apartment on historic King Street: wooden floors, giant windows, exposed brick. Charleston in every way.

One night I was feeling especially pensive and grabbed some chalk to write all of my favorite quotes on the brick wall right there in my bedroom, so I could be surrounded by good advice while I slept. This is an example of a word addiction gone too far—and a crazy roommate. Sorry, Mary Margaret and Hannah.

There is a great amount of comfort to be found in the words of advice from others. They offer so much: I’ve been there, I was on that battlefield, I faced that demon, and I came out on the other side. But mostly they just say, I did, and you can too.

In an age where artists and writers and designers and even doctors are expected to showcase and market themselves and their work online constantly, to appear approachable and lovable and available 24/7, the competition among peers in every industry is fierce. There just isn’t a whole lot of time left for mentoring, guiding, assisting, teaching, or learning from others who share your craft. And that is such a tremendous loss.

Who better to guide the paintbrush of an eager beginner than a seasoned artist with an endless supply of the most precious resource available: experience.

This is why the Advice section of the Submission Form is so critical. The words you give freely to each other here are so valuable and significant because you are telling another in your field, I faced this challenge and so will you, but here is how you will meet it.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by a much-admired author of mine, Neil Gaiman:

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

The same rings true for advice (when dispensed by the appropriate people).

Good advice isn’t true because it shows us obstacles exist; it’s true because it shows us obstacles can be overcome.

I always laugh when I receive a submission followed by the message, “I’m so sorry, I’m not very good with words!” It’s funny because it’s just not true. Everyone is a good writer. We all have our own unique way of interpreting, communicating, and describing—most people just aren’t interested in words enough to recognize the artistic value of their own voice.

I say that with my friend Chelsea in mind, another self-professed “bad writer.” Ever since I received her submission (click her name above to view it), I have returned again and again to the advice she offered:

“Always make time for your passion. Life is too short to just punch a clock with no purpose.”

How about those words from a “bad writer”?

Keep yo side hustle,

V

PS. If you signed up on the site via email to subscribe to Side Hustle, keep an eye out in your inbox for something new coming on Sunday!

Happy Friday, y’all!

Fighting Fear, Pursuing Passion

I started taking yoga classes when I was fourteen years old. At the time I was a volleyball player, but my mom convinced me to try it out with her during my offseason. I had a slight advantage from being a gymnast as a child, but after the first class, I was hooked. Fast forward four years to post-college living in Charleston, South Carolina, and I was introduced to my first power yoga studio, Charleston Power Yoga, and immediately fell in love. There’s something absolutely asinine about being completely still in uncomfortable positions in an unbearably hot room, elbow to elbow with thirty or so sweaty strangers. I’ve always been drawn to crazy.

Now in my adopted city of New Orleans, I’m a member of another power yoga studio, Free To Be. If a hurricane was miles away, my husband would still push me out the door to make it to class. It changes me in all the best ways. I leave the house stressed, tired, and negative, and I come home calm, energetic, and positive. It’s the best $99/month drug I can find.

One of the phrases I hear a lot in class comes from the studio’s cofounder, Janae. Her classes kick my mind as equally as my butt. When we are moving into a challenging pose, delaying the transition because of the imagined reality we expect when we get there, she says, “Come from you are ready now.” It always jolts me back into the present, away from the fabricated future I have created in my mind, where I am surrounded by sticky layers of discomfort, fear of failure, and struggle. It reminds me why I showed up to class that day, strengthens my intention, and gives me a surge of confidence and belief in myself that I lost somewhere at the beginning of class.

This phrase is also the first thing the little voice in my head said each time I doubted my idea to create Side Hustle, its relevancy, the timing, myself. I would hear, “Come from you are ready now,” and I would pick my self esteem up off the floor and pluck a little further on, as far as it could take me that day. I do this routine as many as ten times a day, sometimes more, questioning, struggling, picking up, moving on.

I don’t know why we, as women, tend to suffer so frequently from bouts of self doubt or low self esteem, why we are so tied down by fear of failure or rejection, why we continuously bury ourselves by becoming victims of our own comparisons. Why do we so badly want to be someone else?

All of these things, these ugly truths about women and female relationships that hurt rather than help our chances at personal and universal success, were the driving force that laid the foundation for Side Hustle.

Because at the end of the day, women need each other. Women need each other. We need to be empowered by each other so that we can contribute with our lives in the most authentic ways possible, the ways we were created to contribute, with the gifts we were given for this specific purpose. With our own minds, our own hearts, our own passions, our own talents. We are exactly who we are for a reason. We were given what we were given for a reason. We already have everything we need.

I hope the stories here remind you of this daily. I hope they inspire you, and I hope the women behind them empower you. And if you’re still unsure, still staring out at the future with your passion in one hand and fear in the other, wondering if and how and when and where, I hope you hear a little voice in your head say, “Come from you are ready now.” We’ll all be here waiting when you do.

Keep yo side hustle,

V

PS. When I shared the idea for Side Hustle with my best friend, Molly, she made me promise I wouldn’t use it as a way to hide behind the many passions and talents displayed here without continuing to work on my own passions and talents as well. So, if there is such a thing as a blog post dedication, this one’s for you, Molly. Yours will always be some of the shoulders I stand on when reaching new heights.

Keep Yo Side Hustle

As it is International Women’s Day, I got to thinking about the many, MANY inspiring women in my circle and the creative ways in which they use their time and talents to make the world a much brighter, beautiful, kinder place.

It made me wonder, what if there was a transparent way for our friends, who double as attorneys and fashion bloggers, assistants and writers, moms and painters, teachers and photographers, to connect and celebrate our multifaceted lives?

This is where the idea to create a positive online platform to showcase our hidden passions and tucked away dreams came from, so we can give each other a leg up into a future that looks a little bit more like our daydreams and a little bit less like days of untapped potential.

If you would like to submit your own side hustle, please do so here.

Please feel free to pass this along to any other women you know who are currently side hustling in any number of ways (public or private) who deserve a shoutout and an “I’m with you” from others who probably need it too. God knows I do.

Keep yo side hustle, 

V