When social networking replaces relationships
This morning, a quick read through my Facebook news feed revealed that my first cousin’s baby has started walking at nine months; a former co-worker is now engaged; a sister-in-law likes it on the kitchen table (which could be an entire column in itself); and a friend is taking her toddler and new puppy for a walk. I’ve spared you notes on the breakfast recipes and Farmville updates.
Why do we feel the need to broadcast the hourly minutiae of our lives through social media? Continued on Patch…
This post was originally published on the Sisarina Blog. Thanks to Melanie for supporting my business!
I own a business and I don’t work nonstop or sacrifice time with my family. It is not the easiest accomplishment, but you can definitely do it, too.
Setting Up a Business
My particular business is online marketing. For more than eight years, I’ve done corporate, nonprofit, and start-up online marketing. I specialize in the strategy and implementation of mass email communications, Google AdWords, website development, search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, blogging, and social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Say that three times fast! In November of 2007, I was laid off along with 20% of the staff at the start-up company where I was employed. I was lucky enough to be in the first round of lay-offs that received severance. I had time to regroup and really decide what I wanted to do with my career.
My choice was clear: I enjoyed online marketing and I needed to be able to devote time to my personal life. It would have to be online marketing as a consultant/contractor. Because I chose a business that I already knew, could be done from home, and did not require a large upfront investment, it was simple to get started relatively quickly. I didn’t have to figure out fulfillment for a physical product or how to comply with random governmental regulations. Networking, networking, and more networking is what landed my first contract with an international training corporation within months.
Right before my second contract (with the start-up that had laid me off!), a co-worker pulled me aside and asked if I’d done anything to protect myself. While I pulled my mind out of the gutter, she told me about limited liability corporations (LLC). In simplest terms, an LLC is a way to form a corporation that will protect an individual contractor from calamity if she is sued. I filed that information away.
Three contracts and 18 months later, I found myself on maternity leave with my first child. Personal time was more important than ever, and staying at home as a stay-at-home-mom wasn’t an option for me. With no contracts on the horizon and a burping baby always nearby, I filed with the Commonwealth of Virginia for an LLC (a surprising simple and inexpensive process), hired my designer to finally create a website for my own business, and sent out messages to my network letting them know that Online Marketing Branch had been born.
Setting Boundaries and Expectations as a Part-Time Entrepreneur
It has been hardest to stick to the time boundary I’ve set on my business. My toddler son is in daycare from 8am to 4pm every weekday. That is the only time I allow myself to work – and that includes commuting time in the heavy traffic of the D.C. metropolitan area. Not only do I refuse to do the 60-hour work week like my colleagues and competitors, I shy away from taking on a standard 40-hour schedule as well. I am upfront with my clients and the occasional employer about this restriction and so far it has worked.
This definitely isn’t an easy feat. I mainly take contracts that offer 25-30 hours of weekly work for a temporary time frame. I work my butt off when I’m “on” and only check my BlackBerry two or three times a night. Because I will not risk having too much work, I have had to refer potential clients to my network in times of abundance. And, when the economy slows down, I am left scrambling. This kind of gamble is not for the faint of heart. I don’t make as much money as I would if I took on every contract that came my way. My business isn’t growing as fast as it would if I took on the added responsibility of more contracts and more staff to accomplish the work.
My expectations on my business are realistic. Online Marketing Branch will not make me a millionaire (at least not in this decade). But, I am doing what I love as a career and raising my son the way I want. For me, this is success.
I've had this blog for a little over three years. At first I was Gung-Ho Blog! It was my space to release tension about my marriage, my friends, my job, and my world. I posted pictures of concerts, poetry about domesticity, and personal fears about lumps and careers. Strangers became friends and gave welcome feedback on my work. An old friend from college got in touch and we starting swapping poetry again. It was fabulous. And, because my privacy settings were stringent, I felt invincible.
Then, I posted an entry about how daunting online marketing – my chosen profession – was. It's an ever-changing, shoot-me-in-the-face, gotta-get-to-another-conference-or-I'll-fall-behind kind of business. Three years ago I was overwhelmed in only the way a 20-something year old can be. Now, I'm all grown up at 31 (hear the sarcasm); and I'm used to it now.
Back in 2007 when I'd just risen to the rank of online marketing manager, I published a few innocent posts about the online marketing beast. One mentioned that I had to get "occupational glasses" because I stared at the computer screen too much. A week or so later, the nice HR director of my company said that she'd heard about my glasses and wanted to compare frames.
Er? My glasses weren't even ready from the ophthalmologist yet. I hadn't worn them nor told anyone in the office about them. …Or maybe I had. I couldn't remember. But, even though I wasn't in any trouble whatsoever, I felt exposed. So, I started censoring myself.
I don't know about you; but when I censor myself, I might as well put down the pen. My writing becomes useless. This blog dwindled down to nothing. Then I got super busy with my career. And I had a baby. And I got super busy with my career and my baby. Blah blah. It was the same story as every working mom.
Except now I really miss writing. And, I find that I don't really care as much if people know that I am wearing my occupational glasses right now as I type. In fact, I've gotten to a point where I don't give a hootenanny what anyone thinks about me. (By the way, "hootenanny" just passed spell check. Yes, I am turning into Ned Flanders!)
I'm in the middle of writing a memoir about my triumph over mental illness. In order to make my dream of publishing books come true, I'll have to admit to everyone that I spent five days in a mental institution. There's nothing in this blog that I can write that will raise more eyebrows than that. So, censorship has been thrown out the window. And, for the fifth or sixth time, I'm back.
Welcome to Divinest Sense, musings of a Mad Memoirist. (The name for the blog and my most recent handle are taken directly from my favorite poem. Check it out below, "#11" by Emily Dickinson.)
Sometimes I wonder who I am. I had it all figured out by the end of college. I was a Nickie. The people who knew me the best thought I was weird, dependable, and free. I just thought I was finally sane. That’s all I truly cared about. Sanity and friendship and love.
Then I left school and joined the real world. I started to value myself based on my job performance. And, that’s odd seeing that I wasn’t a great student in college. I didn’t give a rat’s ass then about my “job.” What happened? I didn’t really care if my professors approved of me. Well, I cared about theater. And, so I threw myself into it. I was good at theater and loved the applause that my shows got. I started to crave approval.
Well, actually, I went back to craving approval. Because, I’d cared all my life what people thought until college. And, I started caring again when I got back into theater. After theater, I was really good at marketing and now online marketing. And, that’s the basis of my self-worth. Online marketing. A field that completely changes every 3-6 months. Marketing. A field based on promoting things and companies regardless of their usefulness. This is the basis of my self-worth?
Now, I am trying to figure out my life by trying to figure out if I should stay in my job. Who gives a shit? That’s really what it comes down to. I need to value myself more than anything else. I need to stop defining myself by my job. Sanity, friendship, and love are still my highest priorities. And, yet I’ve let work push its way into the core of my being. I have to stop.
Perhaps if I can do that, I can allow myself to be happy. Perhaps I can just allow myself to be me again. I know that that’s what I miss from college. It’s not the partying or the classes or even the relative freedom from responsibility. I miss knowing who I am. I miss looking in the mirror and being at peace. I miss me.