As a self-proclaimed ambivert who is also a solopreneur, how do you manage the constant push and pull of needing alone time and also needing to connect with others?
This is a constant shift for me. Most people who meet me can’t believe that I identify as an introvert. But I straddle the line on every personality test I’ve ever taken and am much better in a small intimate setting than I am in a large group. The longer I work independently, the more I find myself longing to work with others; more collaboratively as part of a team. I find that working with others and sharing my work helps push me creatively and also nourishes my soul as I really enjoy recognizing others and lifting them up.
So because of that, I’ve joined a shit ton of different local groups — some on Facebook, some on Meetup, and others that myself and a few friends or similar industry people have started. And occasionally I co-work with one or two other people to get out of the house and put on real pants. But not a whole lot of actual work gets done for clients, so it’s more like co-working on my business rather than in it, which can be a good thing.
Aside from that, I walk my dog twice a day where I listen to podcasts, chat with my husband, or just enjoy being outside getting lost in my thoughts. And my typically nightly routine is having dinner with my husband then plopping down in front of the TV. I’m like a little old lady—I’m up at sunrise and in bed around 9:30 every night. I love eating dinner between 4-5 pm (early bird special, anyone?) and don’t answer the phone after 8 pm. Even on weekends, the schedule is the same. I’m a homebody at heart and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What has been the biggest blessing of running your own business?
Most definitely the ability to control my own schedule. I am a weirdo early bird person. I get up at sunrise (my favorite time of day) and really like to finish up early and head outside in the afternoon before dinner. And while I live and die by my schedule, I so appreciate the ability to run some errands in the middle of the day or duck out early for a matinee or happy hour. I don’t believe in the old-school “butts in seats” mentality of working 8-5. I’m a believer in when the work is done, you leave. My husband and I love to travel and most of my friends live in other states so being mobile with the ability to do my work wherever I am is the greatest asset.
As a 10-year veteran in this space, what, if anything, has kept you in the game for as long as you have been?
I didn’t do well when I was in corporate. I am incredibly outspoken and honest, often to a fault. And in a corporate setting, or more traditional “job”, that’s not often appreciated, much less encouraged. So needless to say, it wasn’t a place I excelled. So maybe it’s fear that I’ve stayed as long as I have?
Part of it is that right before I left my full-time job, a friend of mine passed away—very suddenly and unexpectedly—and it rocked me. I had never experienced death like that before and I suddenly became very aware of my mortality and how short life really is. Since then, the idea of work, work, work (or “hustle”) is a big turn off. I’m a designer, sure, but it’s not like I knew I was going to be—or even wanted to be—since birth. It’s not who I am, it’s just what I do, it’s my work. And I work to live, not the other way around.
As I said above, I’ve looked at going back to a traditional job, but for me it has to be the right cultural fit, which is really difficult to uncover just through an interview process.
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose to be where you are or would you have made a different choice for your life and work?
That’s a hard one. I don’t like to have regrets, so I don’t want to say I would have made different decisions. Because if I had, I likely would have a very different life than I do now. And I’m very grateful for the life I have. However, I think about what sort of life I would have had had I made different decisions.
There’s always going to be things you’ve said or done that you could have done differently. But it’s not worth it to hem and haw over them. You can’t undo what’s been done, you can’t change the past. But sometimes you do get a second chance and if you’re so inclined, you can resolve to do better (or differently).