Anna Maria Locke

Self Employment || Week 1!


Where do I even start?

The past seven days have been a whirlwind. I'm trying to live in the present moment, pay extra attention to my emotions, remind myself that it's ok to be a beginner, and document this new transition as much as possible via iPhone pics, Instagram, and good old fashioned journaling because I know it's something I'll want to look back on once I've made it through to the other side.

Friday, August 29th was my last day working full-time at the zoo. I put in my two months notice back in June, so it's not like the day snuck up on me, but it was still unsettling and bittersweet to leave my coworker-friends and the department I called home for almost a year and a half. I'd like to say that I drove out of the parking lot for the last time in a riot of glory, with fireworks and a Beyonce power anthem blasting on the stereo, but it was more of a contained, "WTF is happening," uncomfortably normal feeling afternoon. I felt similar to the days I graduated college and grad school--excited to be moving on to the next, highly anticipated chapter of life, but sad to be leaving memories and important people behind.

I am one hundred percent certain that I'm making the right life choices with perfect timing, and I literally can't believe how lucky I am for all the forces/opportunities/people that have guided me to this point. I don't know exactly where my path is leading, but I know that I'm heading in the right direction and I have no doubt that I'll be successful in whatever I end up doing. In fact, as much as I'm terrified of failure...I think what TRULY petrifies and paralyzes me is the concept of success. I'm used to the struggle, the grind, the process, and I'm scared that things are going to happen too fast for me to handle. At the same time, I am impatient and want to accomplish ALL THE THINGS all at once, immediately. Yeah I'm kind of a mess.

I think my first official week of self-employment can be divided into two phases: the north woods Wisconsin Labor Day retreat, and the return to "reality."

Phase one: Wisconsin

Over the past eight months or so, I've made some amazing real life friends through my health and fitness account on Instagram. It's kind of like online dating, but for fun, active, supportive girlfriends who completely GET you, and this community is what has allowed me to establish my own small health and fitness business and quit my job to pursue my dreams. 

This past winter, my Chicago friend Kathleen and I both individually connected with Kaite, who is a teacher living in a small town in northern Wisconsin. Like, as far north as you can get. Kathleen and I had been throwing around the idea of hitting the road and driving up to visit Kaite all summer, and we decided to just make it happen! 

Make it happen. My mantra for 2014.

Kaite lives in Bayfield, a tiny, gorgeous, welcoming lakeside community. We spent Labor Day weekend hanging out, being as active as possible, drinking wine, having adventures, eating delicious food, and wandering the wooded hills. It was a perfect weekend, especially since all three of us are going through some sort of life or emotional transition right now and needed some downtime to reconnect to ourselves and essentially use each other for therapy.

I've become so used to living in the city that I didn't even know how much I've been missing the outdoors. Being able to walk out the door and hike into the woods or down to the water is a simple luxury that makes me feel like myself, and as much as I love Chicago, and as much as I've grown accustomed to the hustle of the city, this past weekend was a jolting wake-up call.

I'm completely in love with Lake Superior. At least the summer version.

After an incredible weekend of trees, water, fresh air, and outdoor dining, it was a bit of a shock to come back to the city.

Phase 2: New Reality

Not gonna lie, my new reality is kind of fabulous.

But at the same time, it's coming as a complete shock to my system. Growing pains!

I don't have to wake up and get out the door at a certain time. I don't have to feel pressured to be productive on my side-biz's every night and weekend, because they are no longer on the side. I no longer have to feel fragmented and pulled in too many directions. I DON'T HAVE TO PACK A LUNCH! I can plan my day to suit my energy levels. But I am 100% responsible for my success, income, and responsibilities.

I'm giving myself the entire month of September to get organized, set goals, resurrect my poor neglected Etsy shop, and figure out what I want to accomplish in the remaining months of the year. My best friend and sister in law are getting married the last two weekends of the month, so I'm also excited to be able to focus on their big days!

Every day I feel a little more like myself. I'm working on figuring out a routine, making giant to-do lists, prioritizing what needs to happen, and the roller coaster of anxiety/excitement and terror/joy is slowwwwly starting to equalize. I just want to feel calm again!! For now though, I'm overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with anticipation for the projects that I'm going to be able to finally tackle.
Overwhelmed with fear that I'm not going to be able to make enough money to live the life I imagine.
Overwhelmed with vulnerability because I'm finally putting myself out there.
Overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life who have enveloped me with love and support.

Out of nowhere, something small will hit me and make me extremely happy, like being able to eat lunch at home, going to the fabric store at 9am before the crowds, or taking Saturday off to relax and "waste time" reading and thinking.

This is a massive and extremely personal shift in my career and life. I've worked and wished and waited and yearned for this moment to arrive for so long, and now that it's finally here I don't even know what to do with myself. But I'm figuring it out one day at a time, and I am going to share my journey every step of the way.

Be careful what you wish for, 'cause you just might get it.