You Don’t Owe Them Jack

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.)

8 thoughts on “You Don’t Owe Them Jack

  1. Alicia says:

    This is a great article. We all want to be friendly and helpful and sometimes forget that the person we owe the most to is ourselves. We owe being responsible and dedicated and passionate. If the people around you can’t support that, they don’t deserve to be around you.

  2. Suzy Turner says:

    I totally LOVE reading your posts, Liz. You’re so incredibly passionate about what you do and what your good friends do and I ❤ you for that. I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by mostly amazing people who look up to me purely because I'm doing what love. Maybe over the years I've just moved on with my life and left the haters behind? I don't know. I just refuse to spend (waste) any time with people like that. And you and Angie should do the same. There are so many of us passionate amazing bloggers / writers, etc out there. I just wish I could surround myself with you, Angie and the rest of these incredible people too! By the way, I saw that your friend's name is Angie from her comment… I'm not stalking her or anything 😉
    P.S I hope you're feeling better! Did you try out any yoga / meditation?
    Suzy ❤

  3. emeraldobrien says:

    Nice post, Liz. I think everyone has their own priorities, and sometimes, they shift. If people believe their work is most important, followed by or equal to family, that’s where they should spend their time. Same for people who put family and friends above work.
    The trouble usually comes when your priorities used to align with another person’s but now they don’t. People grow, change, etc. People will (and should) make time for what they think is important in life– unapologetically. Even if these priorities shift, and you end up not spending much time with the other person, keeping things positive/supportive is the best way to go IMHO. If they can’t do that– and they can keep on drifting further away– it’s probably for the best.

    • LizLong says:

      Yes, I absolutely agree Emerald! And I’m obviously not trying to encourage you to cut people out of your life. But I know for me personally, cutting those negative people from my life made me much happier and truth be told, I don’t miss them or their attitudes. That being said, the ones I DO keep around are like gold. Like you!! 🙂

      • emeraldobrien says:

        Aww, thanks Liz! That’s very sweet!
        People shouldn’t put up with the negativity, that’s for sure! A supportive friend is golden– you said it best! Also, like you said in your post– we are so lucky to have these positive, supportive friends/community we have created for ourselves around us.

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