March 4, 2014

How My Inner Rebellious Teenager is Helping Me Create The Life I Want. ~ Johnnie Mazzocco

Photo: Teresa Delcambre on Pixoto.

I have authority issues—I know this.

The slightest hint of invasion can rub me the wrong way.

Unsolicited advice or direction of any kind? No, thank you. If I want someone’s opinion, I’ll let them know.

When I slow my pace on the elliptical machine at the gym to grab a drink of water and it tells me to “pedal faster,” I think, “Fuck you.”

When I’m driving and encounter road workers and the orange, or yellow, vested person motions for me to Slow Down when I’m already going five mph, my inclination is to speed up (but I don’t).

I’m not difficult. I just have a burning compulsion to do things my way. I have a vision.

Despite my 55 years, a rebellious teenager clearly lives inside me and my best approach to date has been to embrace that snarky, snippy girl and have her help me realize my dreams.

My inner rebel compels me to create this nomadic entrepreneurial life I’m chasing. I say chasing because it’s been on my mind for many years. A little more than 30, actually.

But other life choices, events and circumstances beyond my control, and a lack of awareness and focus, have all prevented me from realizing this dream of mine: to work for myself and make a living that will not only cover the essentials but leave me enough at the end of the day/month/year to enjoy some travel and enrich my life by taking in culture and practicing self-care through things like massage, visits to doctors who practice so-called “alternative” medecine, weekend trips to the mountains and donating to causes I believe in (to name a few).

I know this kind of life is possible. I know it is because I see other people pulling it off. And because I’m getting closer all the time.

My rebellious spirit is the thing that allows me to keep moving forward with my dream. I’ve never wanted to abide by the status quo, not simply to kick up dust or be difficult, but because the status quo doesn’t make sense—doesn’t work for me. And my spirit experiences a serious amount of dis-ease when I try to comply. Happily, I’m finally at a place in life and have enough focus and resources that I can actually begin to make this nomadic entrepreneurial life happen. (Thank you rebellious teenage girl inside me for not giving up.)

My inner teenager won’t let me accept a dead end life anymore. To keep her happ,y so that she can keep me honest and focused on my dream, here are the steps I’ve taken thus far:

1. I retired from a job that was killing my soul.        

I’ve been an adjunct college writing professor for the past ten years. After all those years, teaching had begun to kill my spirit. When enrolments dropped last year and I was only awarded a one-class teaching assignment for Spring term, and nothing for Summer, I considered it a blessing in disguise. This event coincided with my turning 55, so I took early retirement so I could collect the little bit of money I’d gathered as well as the small monthly pension that, even though small, makes a difference in making ends meet, nonetheless.

And even though I’m still teaching one class every term, something feels different. Because I’m now privileging my own work and am able to finally begin to see how this life I want can unfold, teaching one class doesn’t feel like a drain on my soul.

2. I’m participating in a self-employment assistance program.

I was already on unemployment when I learned about the Self-Employment Assistant Program offered in Oregon where I live. In Oregon, it works like this (as it does in most, if not all, states that have such a program): If a person is already on unemployment and will likely exhaust her benefits, she can apply for the Self-Employment Assistant (SEA) Program and collect unemployment insurance benefits while starting or building a business. The states that currently have SEA programs are: Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. (Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, explains further in this article in Time.) If your state doesn’t offer an SEA program you can become an advocate for the program in your state. Self Employment Ideas, as well as the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration also offer a variety of ways to get self-employment assistance.

By taking part in this program, I’ve created a window of time for myself to get a solid footing and make the move to solely supporting myself and leaving teaching behind.

3. I became invested in networking.

I use social media. A lot. I’m a private soul, so making the move to become more visible online was not an easy decision for me, and to be honest, I’m still not entirely comfortable with the idea. So even though I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Stage 32, I know it’s something I have to do if I’m going to have the reach I need to create this life I want. I do my best to keep myself insulated with privacy settings.

I also attend face-to-face networking events on a regular basis. Networking is not my thing. I’m an introvert. I prefer my own company. However, I also know that if I’m going to create the life I want as an entrepreneur, I have to be visible. So, I put on my social face and drag myself to networking events and it’s paid off. I’ve made some valuable connections (both personally and professionally). And when the networking event is over, I give myself the time and space to wind down and regroup because socializing drains me. Hot baths are the key for me. (Just as with my inner rebellious teenager, I embrace this part of me and honor it.)

4. I house sit and live rent-free.

I’m about a month into my first long-term job, located near Tacoma, Washington. I’ll be here until the end of June. After that? Who knows… probably another one somewhere else. The beauty of house sitting is that I’ll get to live rent-free and experience different parts of the country. Even the world. And… I can focus more on the work I want to do and am here to do. Two trustworthy sites are luxuryhousesitting.com and housecarers.com.

5. I surround myself with inspiration.

As a writer and filmmaker, I’m always interested in reading stories and watching films that I can learn from and that inspire me. And I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’ll read, watch and experience only things that contribute to my own forward movement as an artist and entrepreneur. In addition to reading quality fiction and watching quality films and cable television, I’m also committed to surrounding myself with things of beauty (whether they be songs, places in nature or pieces of art) and people who inspire me. If I keep that fire in me going by surrounding myself with inspirational energy, I stand a much better chance of staying motivated and productive so I can reach my goal of living an entrepreneurial life.I avoid negativity.

If there’s one thing that can sap my energy faster than anything it’s negative people, and this can come in many forms. I have curtailed or eliminated friendships that drain me. Sometimes just letting a relationship die on the vine is best.

I’m thankful for my inner rebellious teenager—she and I are a team.

She’s the one who won’t take “no” for an answer, and I’m the one who helps temper her snarky ways so we can function amongst others and maintain just enough of the status quo so we’re not ostracized.

As I continue to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur, I’m sure I’ll continue to rely on my inner rebel to help me carve my path, and as I find more tips and tricks along the way, I’ll be happy to share them with everyone.

In the meanwhile, if anyone has some of their own I’d love to hear about how they’re carving out their own entrepreneurial path.

We rebels have to stick together, after all.

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Editorial Assistant: Laura Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Pixoto

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