The Truth About Your Hustle // The Letters I'd Write to You
I don’t know where I would begin because as many people can pinpoint a time in their life where they got serious about their dreams and goals. I feel like I’ve always been that way.
I can not remember a time in my life that I didn’t feel like I was working for something, trying to earn something.
Whether that was to prove to my mostly boy family members that I could keep up or was just as tough as them. Getting hit by a car when I was 6 and having to learn how to walk again. Earning my place on a soccer team when I was 9 so my parents would spend time with me rather than their jobs. Tearing my ACL at 16 and losing a scholarship to my dream school at the University of North Carolina to play division 1 soccer. To finding my place among the boys because my breast-less body certainly didn’t fit in among the girls. It’s just been a non-stop, “watch me win” show. “I can take on all the adversity, I was born for this.”
I was always searching for the next goal to accomplish and the next attention-seeking high so I didn’t have to think about how all the “earning” really made me feel. I began to think everyone was just like this. Having to earn affection, trust, friendships, and relationships. Prove we are worthy of those things and try your damn hardest to keep them.
This was my mantra for as long as I can remember. “You have to earn it." And that included love.
When I started college I chose the college I went to based on a boy.
>>Any of you that know me, truly, would be astonished by this statement<< I was so hard-headed, driven, and independent that the idea that I did something so cliche and petty was such a hard pill to swallow until very recently. I thought, love is about “proving you’re worthy of it” and not two months into me moving there we broke up. I immediately thought, “what is wrong with me?” Not from the place of the decision I made and how stupid it was, but from the place of “what could I have improved upon to change this outcome. How could I have changed to be better.” Remember, I was hardwired for earning and proving.
I got into a relationship with a “bad boy” of sorts. He had a motorcycle, wore black, and paid for it all himself at the age of 20 and he wanted me. (Not to mention I found out later that literally the night we had “the talk” about being a couple he made out with one of our dorm-mates) And I was deeply hurt but I felt, “that was the cost of doing business with the bad boy” but he still wanted me so I began to mold myself into the type of girl who was worthy of the attention from this guy.
Flash forward 4 years, I was in the most toxic mindset of my life. I spent nights crying on the kitchen floor, dinner hot on the counter, dishes done, laundry folded, two dogs fed, and he wouldn’t answer the phone. I had no idea where he was and he didn’t care to answer the phone calls or texts from his “psycho” girlfriend. I showered him with acceptance and understanding. I went to therapy because I needed someone to fix what was broken inside of me so I could be the person he fell in love with again. We were on, and we were off, and he cheated, and I took him back. Isn’t that what love is? Work? “watch me win” was slowly turning into, watch me kill myself slowly.
I didn’t eat, and I barely slept. I cried into my pillow every night and some where he slept soundly asleep next to me fully aware of the state I was in.
It took so long, and so much pain for me to walk away. And it actually only came when he threatened to take my dog, the one unconditional being on this planet that knew all my flaws, all my anxiety, all my pain and loved me anyway. I never had to earn a thing from her. I packed my things and my dog in my car in the middle of the night and drove the 4 hours home to my parents and I never looked back. I literally didn’t go back, I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough to not want to fix things again.
The hustle for your life is a cold, dark highway and no one can save you from that pain, and truthfully no one should.
I recall my mom saying not two months later how proud she was of how I handled my breakup. I mourned for two weeks and then I heard a quote by Lady Gaga that changed my whole world around.
Your career will never roll over in the morning and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore.
So I went to work.
I booked a trip to go snowboarding that November of 2014 which accidentally turned into a trip to Portland, and 4 years later…. I’m here and living it. Happily ever after? Not. A. Chance.
After my accidental trip to Portland, I came home in tears knowing this is where I needed to be.
If you asked me why, I told you it was because the community was so accepting and supportive. The kindness was unlike anything I had experienced on the East Coast and I was elated to find my “people.” You know, the ones who are weird too?
** If you’re not picking up on the pattern here…. at this point in my story I’m still searching for a place I didn’t have to earn love or acceptance **
I went back home to save and plan, I was a woman on a mission. I told EVERYONE that I was moving to Portland in January (yes, less than two months later) with not a dollar to my name when I got home. (So much so that I couldn’t even pay the highway tolls to drive home from the airport.)
My aunt graciously saw my desperate desire and offered to help pay for rent at a place I found on craigslist living with these two girls. She paid for two months rent on a place I never went to. I didn’t have the money to move, even with her paying for the rent. I couldn’t even buy the damn plane ticket. So every month I told myself I’d save, and every month that dream became a memory, and something I didn’t feel like I was worthy of. “If you can’t even take your so-called ‘dreams’ seriously, no wonder no one else could either.”
I started to make friends back in my hometown (and by friends I mostly mean people who I drank with.) And as long as you’re a friendly drunk, everyone accepts you then.
I never forgot about Portland but when I got knee deep in other people’s feelings, stories, and expectations I had the hardest time finding my own again. These people loved me! I had girl friends! I even met a guy whom was older and thought my “independence and drive” were sexy. Hot dog people! I was living the dream! Although I still always told everyone, “I am still moving to Portland.”
But I was invited to girl’s nights, parties, and I was loved.
October 21st, 2015
“I am still reeling from what happened with John (these are fake names if you’re wondering) the other night. To threaten to not give me back my dog because of an iPad and a lie? based on money I earned? I don’t know if it upsets me more that he thought I was cheating or that he turned into such a violent person and threatened me about Chloe! I have tried so hard to listen and love him for all the things he doesn’t love in himself, he’s such a caring person. We have fun together but I’m a little scared now. Maybe I’ll see if he wants me to come over and cook dinner and we can talk. Everything else is super great, so I’ll just see if I can fix this. It will be fine.”
This was literally an exert from a journal entry I wrote the same day, right before, I booked the one way flight to Portland.
We did have dinner, I told him the news, he called me a slut and told me I used him. I was disgusted with myself, and I was deeply heartbroken. “How could I have done better? How could I have handled this differently? How did I get myself here, again?”
The countdown began and the hustle was real, but it certainly didn’t keep me warn at night, in fact it made me emotionless and cold. I didn’t need anything except that flight to Portland and my ticket out to a place that was going to love me, fully, once and for all. I could start over.
Over the next two months this mentality broke me down tremendously. I didn’t know it at the time but my quick to kill, snake tongue almost destroyed my relationship with my parents. No one understood me, no one loved me REALLY, and everyone was out to see my “bad idea” of moving to Portland fail. At least that’s the truth behind the planning and the thank yous and the smiles. “You are all just waiting for me to fail. Watch me win. I will prove to you I’m worthy.”
Look, I could go on and tell you all the rest of the intimate details of the last almost three years of my life here in Portland but I think you get the point.
Moving to Portland didn’t change a single damn thing. I hustled harder than I ever did in my life when I moved here and I strategized like my life depended on it. I got in rooms with people some would only dream of after moving here for only a few short months but it was so empty inside. I kept looking for the next attention seeking high to feel like I was worth anything. And let me tell you a secret, no one gives a shit about what you’re doing more than you do. No one is actually watching you as intently as you think they are, and Portland was a place rooted in values and community. I didn’t honestly have any idea what that really meant and I became painfully alone.
I drank. a lot. I would have thoughts like, “well if I became an alcoholic no one would even notice because no one out here knows me and my family’s lives have gone on.” I went on serial dates where I would dress like I was a “somebody,” red lipstick to boot, and tell people I was a photographer. I would let them pay for dinner after a pretty fair show of my “I don’t let anyone pay for me” independence. Then I would turn them down every time after because I was “too busy.”
I just wanted to be wanted. Prove to myself I still had “it,” whatever that is.
It really wasn’t until I saw a call to action in the form of a caption on Instagram that I curiously responded to, which led to a phone call, which led to the seed of a workshop where I dared to be seen for my truth, no matter how lost it felt. Surrounding those weeks I was working at my “dream job” but I still empty. “This is not the legacy I want to leave. This can not be it. This is not enough.” As soon as I told that truth to myself, it was then only that I felt the universe/God/source/higher power …whatever you believe in… was conspiring to help me win. Like REALLY this time.
I sat in a room full of people older and wiser than I and I poured my fear drenched heart out. I told the truth about my heart, about my loneliness, about my lack of worth, and about how I didn’t know where to start to go about finding it.
The truth is they said….”you just started.”
It has taken me so much time (and I’m still working on it daily) to figure out my message. To figure out who I am and where the things I believe in so deeply have stemmed from. I had to ask myself hard question after hard question about who I am REALLY, and unpack my pain to only scratch the surface about what I’m about to tell you. What I came up with about ::She’s Hungry:: and why I needed to tell this story today.
She’s Hungry is my hustle and my heart. It is the only place worth coming from, and I never could have lived it out any other way. There is so much purpose in pain because when you finally take a step back and look at the story that is your life you find exactly where it is that you need to begin. The hustle is hollow, it’s cold, and it will not leave the impact you’re burning for until you fill it with your truth. The only way to find your truth is to face your pain head on. To fill pages with evidence of your struggle hustle to transform it into your heart hustle.
It is the only way the work can be done effectively to release you to start the real work, and the work that leaves legacies and love to last lifetimes.
**This post does not come from a place of sympathy but a call to action for all of us to take a hard look at our lives and choose again.**
On today’s podcast I speak to this place in you and I talk about how I think you get started TODAY.
Thank you for seeing me.
Thank for you giving me to the space to tell my story.
Thank you for loving me from a place I didn’t have to earn.