How different does my life look now than it did on January 1, 2012? For starters, I’m no longer sleeping on a mound of blankets and foam pads. That mound, of course, could be found on the floor of my high school bedroom. In my grandparent’s house. In Rochester, NY. I’m not there anymore, either. Did I mention I was making about $500 a month?
Stories of change start this way, though, and I’m proud to say that mine started on a floor. It felt a lot like getting stuffed back in the womb, but I needed it; a wake up call and a drastic overhaul on a number of levels.
The 1,200+ mile drive out of Miami and back to Rochester in late December 2011 was preceded by an admittedly dark emotional and personal stretch. I was burned out and unhappy with my work and completely torn-up over a break-up. Nothing felt right. Again. I had gone through a lay-off only a year before, just weeks after knee surgery, and to say that I was afraid of a double-dip into darkness was an understatement. I knew that it could paralyze me unless I did something drastic to change my circumstances. So I did. I quit my job, threw all of my worldly possessions into a storage unit, and drove back to New York with two suitcases, and I lived out of them.
In that time of transition, I tried to launch a social media business and, more or less, failed at it. It turns out everyone wants social media, but no one wants to pay for it. I picked up the occasional side project, but I’m not ashamed to say that I made just $6,000 in my first five months as an ‘entrepreneur,’ and if memory serves me correct, a good chunk of that came from my tax return.
By April of this year, I had even gone back to work at the local car wash to work for some extra cash – the same car wash I worked at in high school.
Talk about having your ego checked. I had an MBA and a job that I left behind in Miami; now I was living with my parents in Rochester, NY and washing cars for tip money.
A phone call changed all of that in May. In a big way. On the other line was my old boss, Luly Balepogi. And just as she had numerous times – even while I was still working for her – she asked me: “David, why in the world are you not writing? You’re brilliant!”
I didn’t have a good answer to that, but thankfully, I never had to. She had called me that day to ask if I was interested in helping her write a book.
Really? Sure, she’d mentioned it to me in passing when I made the difficult decision to leave her company six months earlier, but I never gave it much thought. Now, I’d have traded anything for a chance to prove myself and do the work. Not only that, but she had two other referrals for writing work for me.
Within two weeks of that phone call, I scratched the itch and returned to Miami and began doing freelance writing work for her and several of the folks she’d introduced me to. Because of her belief in me, I never had to ‘pitch’ my first couple of clients; they were already sold on me.
It got better. Two weeks after that, a high school friend – and fan of my blog – asked if I was interested in freelance writing for the company she worked for. That company? A Fortune 500 business. After supplying my portfolio for review, I was chosen for the gig.
Within a one month stretch, I had gone from drying off Hondas and Mazdas to living off of the income I was generating from my writing. I reconnected with old contacts and continued to push. I got a gig with a magazine, too. I couldn’t believe it.
I was a writer.
On my own? Hardly. I’ve met incredible people who claim I’ve done a great deal of good work for them, but they’ve done far more for me. I’m blessed to know Ralph Quintero and I’ve made friendships this year that I know I’ll have for a lifetime. And while 2012’s adjusted goal became ‘get paid to write,’ it’s evolved.
In 2013, I’m excited to say that I will complete a life-long dream of writing my first book, ’10 Phases of Dating,’ (you can help fund the project on Kickstarter by clicking here!) and I’m in the process of taking Boxing During Dinner, the YouTube boxing show that I do with two of my best friends, to the next level.
I’m humbled and overwhelmed to say that one year after an extremely dark period in my life, I am happy. I believe in myself again. I believe in my work and I believe in the things I’m involved in. In 2012, I was also appointed to the national advisory board for Radio Lollipop USA, the life-changing children’s organization that I have poured myself into for nearly six years now. Is it a point of pride for me to be a part of this team, and the youngest member of its international advisory board? It sure is.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that nothing can get in the way of a person determined to fulfill a dream. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, and without the help and support of those around me, it probably wouldn’t have happened at all. But I didn’t stop trying, and I’m not about to slow down now.
And for that matter, neither should you. As one of those cheesy Instagram quotes likes to remind us, “Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
I didn’t – and it’s changed my life.