I’d first like to start by thanking everyone who has supported me in crazy 2014. I can’t stress this enough: without you all, I don’t know where I would be today. My family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, my love and appreciation for you all is endless. Merci.
Now, they say you ‘grow’ every year, and every year bring its challenges. 2014 was in a league of its own. It straight up kicked my ass in ways I never thought possible.
There was something about late 2013 that I can’t quite put my finger on. My experience(s) during that time were rather tumultuous and the air always seemed…heavy. I thought I was alone, but later discovered that I wasn’t.
Late 2013 – Early 2014 WTF
Between late September until December, it seemed that many people I spoke to were going through a similar life-shift, a surreal change in terms of profession. Everything from burnout to overall discontent with where they were at. Times were tough not only for myself, but for many others as well, and the thought of quitting a full-time office job with benefits seemed like a bat-shit-insane thing to do.
It’s been roughly a year since I stepped out of my ‘cushy’ office job and the (dis)comfort of having health benefits, which in all fairness, were supported by a job that paid fairly well. Given the average salary for an Anglophone working within the confined walls of Quebec (which does not limit me to the service industry – which trust me, comes with it’s own problems) the job itself wasn’t *that* bad. The lack of passion that I felt for it was what was killing me, and the discrimination that I faced from my boss only made matters worse. She despised me and saw me as a threat, and the entire office knew it, so it was only a matter of time. I told myself that 2014 would be different, and it was.
A full 365+ days have passed since that fateful day where I just up and said “f*ck it, I’ve had enough!” What happened on November 7th 2013 was the straw what broke this camel’s back. What happened the following morning caused something to snap inside of me, which led to my doctor’s recommended leave of absence. I wasn’t sleeping and I experiences heart palpitations on a frighteningly regular basis. With that came the anxiety and eventually, mild(ish) depression. The employee assistance program proved to be useless, and don’t even get me started on the (highly illegal!) harassment I dealt with from HR. A note on EAP programs: they expect you to be on the verge of death before they will help you. So save yourself the additional stress and anxiety and just find the quickest (and medically approved) way out as soon as possible.
The Road to Wellness
In between gathering documents for the a$$holes at the EAP program, I decided to put my benefits to the test and did everything possible. I made several appointments each week, from therapy to massages and acupuncture. If they were going to make my life hell, I was going to deal with it accordingly and neutralize the situation as best I could. My resignation was official by the end of February, and the sense of release was surreal. I felt like I could breathe again. I had my life back.
Nothing was going to take that away from me.
Seeing a therapist and nutritionist was like worlds of awesomeness colliding. I had taken my tradition of ‘treat-yo-self’ to a whole other level: wellness. Emilia, my nutritionist, also became my therapist and friend. We bonded, shared our stories of burn-out and our desires of living happy, healthier lives. “I want to help you to be better, Jessica. I want you to be happier and feel more fulfilled. We will do this, together.”
And I wanted that too. More than anything.
Several weeks after leaving my employer, I began an internship with a local online media/marketing agency. While I won’t name the business in this post, I was grateful for the opportunity to explore a new working venture, which was more directly connected with my desired field. It was this venture that helped guide me in the direction which brought me to where I am in today.
The work itself wasn’t particularly stimulating, but I learned a great deal about social media marketing and how brands connect with bloggers and vice versa. That alone gave me something to think about, and made me wonder how I could harness this energy and vibrate separately, yet on the same wavelength.
While the internship ended, I felt more empowered than I had felt in years. Despite the lack of finances, I was HAPPY.
We were living in a shit hole. Well, it wouldn’t have been so bad if my roomie and I weren’t living in such a poorly insulated dwelling. Our hydro bills were killing us more so than the blistering cold, yet the cost(s) of living there were burning a hole in my pocket. Our pockets! But despite all of that, I knew that I made the right choice.
Re-Focusing on the Blog and Welcoming Vincent
I began putting more focus into Nudabite, which also meant taking on a few collaborators. One of which began contributing articles in French. My dear friend Vincent has played such an important role in the direction that we’ve taken Nudabite. I say ‘we’ because WE are a team, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It wasn’t until my trip to Toronto for the international World Pride event that I really began to concoct a plan for success. My bestie and I recorded and edited our second pride Toronto video, which did lead to thoughts of monetization via YouTube.
Mentors, Conferences and Becoming Inspired
I sat down with my friend (and mentor) Miss Maya, to discuss my plans for a money-making-Nuda. She urged me to attend more conferences and network, along with other recommendations, but I won’t give out the full ingredient list of my secret sauce.
In August I attended WCMTL and met so many inspiring people. This weekend forever changed the way I view the internet and blogging, and was the kick-off of my next big venture.
I connected with another mentor that weekend, and now we work together on a near-daily basis. I am forever grateful for his help and vested interest in my success. We also make a helluva great team, like this crazy powerful unstoppable force, like web-related superheroes, or something crazy like that.
The Loss of my Grandfather
Later that autumn, my grandfather finally lost his battle with cancer. After 6 long years of fighting a good fight, he passed on October 27th 2014.
Losing him was by far the most heartbreaking loss that I have encountered so far. In my 32 years, I have never been so devastated, yet so silent about it. Work took over my life, and between the blog and my application to SAJE, I was constantly on the go. Maybe this was my way of ‘dealing’ with everything. Granted, I was still VERY much present at home and made multiple visits to the hospital, I knew that I needed to keep going if I was ever going to succeed.
I suppose when you know it’s inevitable, you gradually mentally and emotionally prepare for it. But he was my rock, our rock. He held our family together, no matter how tough the times were. He was more than a grandfather. Ever since I cut my father out of my life, HE filled that role. Losing him was like losing my father.
Web Summit, Ireland and London: Travel With Nuda
Within hours of leaving his funeral on October 29th 2014, I was on a flight heading to London and eventually Dublin. I was a complete mess, but I knew this trip was exactly that I needed. Europe was calling and it’s where I needed to be. Just a few days after the funeral, I attended the international Web Summit conference as credited media. There, I rubbed elbows with journalists from CNN, BBC, Forbes and countless other international media.
This was the life I craved. This was where I wanted to be. THIS is what I wanted to be doing with myself. Did I have a journalism degree? No. Did I care? Not a single bit. I had come this far, without the help or headaches of fighting for a place at Concordia, where I settled for a spot in political science. Oddly enough, I’ve had more experience as a blogger than 75% of Concordia’s journalism graduates, so f*ck it – and f*ck Concordia.
SAJE, Babies and Self-Employment: It Gets Better
As rough as 2014 was, it was a year that also allowed me to experience a few firsts. I’ve travelled, lived, learned and developed a concept for my entrepreneurial present and future self.
I was recently accepted to the SAJE Montreal self-employment and entrepreneurial program and I am now on my way to starting my own business. In the new year, I’ll launch my media relations and publicity company in the new year. Looks like I’ve found a way to do what I love and monetize it.
Last week, my nephew was born and he was given my grandfathers first name as his middle name. It’s nice to see that Vincenzo will live on in the next generation. Not only was this gesture incredibly touching, but it has helped us to find closure with the loss of my grandfather.
Every challenge, every obstacle that I’ve been faced with, has been over-come. Each fear, every doubt that I ever had was defeated with great triumph.
I’ve managed to defeat my inner fear with perseverance and creativity. Where fear and risk-taking was once my kryptonite, it’s now what fuels me, what drives me and has become my magical super power. I predict that 2015 will be no less challenging, but this time I will be prepared – for anything.
I wish you all the same strength. Attack this year with everything you’ve got. Nothing is ever impossible. Be strong, stay focused and above all else: listen to yourself and love yourself. I hope 2014 was good to you.