I was out having lunch with a good friend of mine the other day and naturally, we got to talking about work. She is a food blogger, and quite a successful one at that. It’s a side business for now, with the incredible potential to go full time down the road. She’s made a name for herself in the online foodie community and has had wonderful experiences (conferences, TV appearances, an incredible trip to Hawaii) because of her hard work.
I repeat: because of her hard work. (It’ll make sense in a minute.)
So we’re finishing up our lunch and she asks me: “What do your friends think about you working all the time? I mean, do they ever say anything when you can’t go out or you tell them you’re on deadline?”
I answered truthfully: “I surround myself with like-minded go-getters who are incredibly supportive. It helps that I’m an introverted hermit who loves pajamas and most people learn that about me within the first five minutes of meeting me. Also, I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks because it makes me happy.” (Luckily this friend has known me since high school, so she was neither surprised nor offended by my mouth or stance.)
Then she tells me why she’s asking: some of her “friends” give her crap about working all the time. They wonder why she doesn’t go out with them to the bars, or drop everything when they ask, or – and this is really when my temper exploded – they make some passive-aggressive comments about how she’s “so lucky” to go to all her foodie/blogger conferences and visit all these neat cities.
As though this was handed to her. As though she simply tossed up a photo of pizza one day and suddenly had a thousand followers. As though the big brands approaching her for coverage just picked her name out of a hat and took a chance on her.
These big brands didn’t come to her because she has a few Facebook friends. They came to her because they see her enthusiastic fans clamoring to try her recipes – BECAUSE she learned how to better understand her products, her demographics, her marketing, and her business.
And that takes work. Hours and weeks and months of work that won’t get done unless she puts her foot down with people. These “friends” have no idea that she spends twelve hours in the kitchen on her weekends, perfecting recipes and photos and stressing about deadlines and what comes next. (And no, this isn’t a “work is all we should live for” talk, but you get what I’m saying, right?) She loves what she does, but she doesn’t do it only because it’s fun. She does it because it’s a legit side business that’s putting her name in the spotlights. It just also happens to make her happy.
And hell’s bells, what’s wrong with that? Why give her crap for it?
If you’re one of the haters who gives their friends hell for wanting to work, just know that I’m flipping you off right now. With both middle fingers. We’re not weirdos nor are we selfish with our time or money (in fact, we usually end up giving away our time for free because we know it’s all about putting ourselves out there to get seen).
Remember that little post I did on why I hate the self-publishing stigma? How we’re chasing our dreams and should be loud and proud about our good work?
Same damn thing applies here. I don’t care what you’re doing – food blogger, writer, photographer, underwater basket weaver, whatever – if you enjoy doing something, do it for YOU. Not the readers, not the fans, not the haters. For YOU.
You don’t owe anyone anything. You ESPECIALLY don’t owe shit to the haters. To the ones who believe they “deserve” something because…I don’t know, they got out of bed? They’re jealous, plain and simple, making excuses for every reason they don’t follow their own dreams. True friends don’t hold your work over your head and beg for your attention. In fact, most of mine simply ask, “How can I help?” And the ones who give me crap…well, it was a pretty easy decision to cut back on any more time with them.
Don’t ever feel like you should apologize for doing something you love. For hustling because you believe in what you do. For reaping the rewards because you earned them with your own two hands. Your work, whatever it is, gives you purpose.
I’ve got two responses for the haters. The more polite one is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
The not so polite? “Fuck off. I’ve got work to do.”
(By the way, if you’re looking for new recipes to try, food photos to drool over, visit my friend’s site here at Big Bear’s Wife. She’s a food genius and I’m incredibly proud of her.)