It’s kind of funny when I tell someone about my blog when they don’t really know me. If they take a good look around, they’ll find I’m a pretty vulnerable person and I love sharing about my life in all ways. I do it in hopes whatever I have to share at that time can relate to someone else going through something similar. Funny to think how this began as a place for me sharing recipes as a 19 year old and 5 years later it’s all of the tiny bits of my life rolled into one destination. The good, messy, unexpected and everything in between.
People have been asking me for the last 6 weeks more than ever, “how are you doing?”, “are you ok?”, “what’s everyday look like for you?” And I’ve got to say where I’m at now looks a lot different than the last 5 years that flew past me.
I can tell you that as of right now, I no longer work a desk job. I do my own thing, make my own schedule, have to budget my own finances when it comes to my website, insurance, etc. All the fun things. I don’t have co-workers to see every day and I don’t have a set paycheck every two weeks. I don’t work anymore for the company I dreamed of my freshman year of college, met my junior year, went part-time with my senior year and full-time with my first year out of school. Two years after graduating college and now I’m here, working for myself, planning my days around what I want to do, what I want to get accomplished and having little moments of anxiety drizzled in between the happiest, most freeing days of my life. It’s hard and it’s challenging but I’m excited for what every day brings me.
I used to read posts from other bloggers I followed about how they quit their 9-5 and just worked for themselves. I always thought that what I did right out of college was what I’d be doing for at least another 5 years but then again, when I moved to Chicago in 2013 I definitely did not plan any of what the following few years had in store for me.
I started this blog as a hobby because I liked food. And I liked taking pictures of said food. It was an extension of a project I had to do for school and then it turned into pretty much, well… my life. My brand. My business. A lifestyle, really.
The funny part is I never thought to do this full-time until around February 2018 when I remember going into my therapist’s office weekly expressing to her how stressed I was in my job, crying and saying I don’t think I can do it anymore. I explain it to people now in the sense that I was splitting my energy between two things I really loved but it was hard to give my all to just one and I had to. Because I couldn’t give 100% to either, it felt as if I was half-assing (for lack of a better phrase) both things, not really going anywhere and super stagnant.
Then when the summer came, I really lacked 0 motivation for pretty much anything – both Chickpea and my 9-5 job. When I started seeing a guy in July, that’s when I felt as if work was going in a complete downward spiral. I lost sleep, motivation for work and self-care and then once it ended, it felt as if everything did a complete 180. I started working out with a trainer (my friend Justice), focusing on doing the best I could at my job and working on exciting campaigns for the blog. It felt as if everything was going right but also as if something was still off.
Come the second week of January, I finally left my corporate job. So many people have asked and here it is: yes, I no longer work the corporate life. Although it was somewhat unexpected, I knew it was the push I needed. Since I graduated college in 2017, I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind that doing my blog is something I was meant to do in the long run I just wasn’t sure when, or how it would happen. Until now.
To back up for a second, people ask me all the time how I started Chickpea in The City and I tell them this… I sat down at my aunt and uncle’s dining room table one night, bought my domain and figured out how to make it look decent somehow. I had no money to afford a website designer or anything fancy, was working at Pottery Barn Kids and just ended my freshman year of college but I knew I wanted to share with people healthy recipes and products. I loved learning about new brands, the ingredients behind their products and how smaller brands were making an impact in the food industry. This is how I found my previous job… at Simple Mills.
It was the fall of my junior year of college (2015) and a friend told me about about how Simple Mills was in the city and how I’d love their products/mission. I met with my soon-to-be two managers that November and by January of 2016 I was an intern. I like to think of the last 3 years of my life with Simple Mills as being in a long-term relationship with someone. It’s funny because I’ve never had a boyfriend yet I relate this job to a boyfriend because “breaking up” with them was extremely difficult. It’s like when you know both people are better off not being together but it’s still hard to think of your life without them. Funny analogy, I know, but seriously.
Simple Mills was with me through pretty much every major event of my life and I know while I’m only 24, it feels like it fell into my lap just when I needed it most. Through the years I worked there, I felt the most inspired at times and also the most drained. I felt like the luckiest person ever being able to travel to places like Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City. My coworkers felt like a second family to me, especially through the saddest parts of my life. I fell in love, I lost my mom and my aunt, I worked at Whole Foods simultaneously, I graduated college, I moved apartments twice, I felt my heart break, I changed emotionally and physically… so many things that really helped make me grow as a person and I can’t imagine having done it all without Simple Mills. It was there for me through literally everything.
I think the past three years helped me really fall in love with my life and what I do outside of my corporate job. While it was such an important part of who I am, it was time to move onto focusing on my blog and putting all my effort into this rather than a desk job that was slowly burning me out.
I love what I do because I’ve met my best friends through this platform. I get to share my favorite content with you all. Whether it’s my favorite drinks around Chicago, where the best workouts are, sharing my grief journey, my experience with yoga teacher training (coming up this March) or a recipe collaboration with a brand I love. Everything is always changing, every day is different and that’s what I love about this life and this job.
I had this moment the other day when shooting these photos with my friend Joseph about how lucky I am to know the people I’m friends with right now more than ever. Being in the creative space, specifically in wellness, in Chicago is so extremely rewarding and inspiring. I remember when I was just starting my blog out, I didn’t attend any events, know really anyone in the community and was somewhat nervous to tell people about what I did for fear of judgement and what I was passionate about. I had a hard time finding friends who wanted to do anything more than drink alcohol or have surface level conversations. Now 95% of my friends go to workouts or coffee shops for fun/to hang out/get work done. We have meaningful conversations about life, work, projects, friends, family, struggles… everything. I have friends that are working out of creative spaces to produce work for their dream clients, friends traveling to Los Angeles to film video content as THEIR JOB and friends that are supporting each other through their creative work every day. And it’s so so rewarding.
I truly can say that every day I love what I do. I love meeting people who are passionate about the same things I am and having conversations that start out of the shared love of being creative and learning things from each other. One of my worst “fears” of quitting my corporate job was not having the ability to connect with others which is why I try to push myself to get out of the house at least 4-5 days a week, if not more, to surround myself with freelancers, content creators and even those in the fitness space – for inspiration and that little boost of joy.
As for quitting your job and focusing on working for yourself, I still kind of can’t believe that this is my life. I think when it comes to putting yourself first and leaving the corporate world, I have to say saving your money before making the leap is a huge factor. Because I don’t make money every two weeks like I did with a 9-5, I have to budget for certain things over others, say no to specific things and save where I can. I honestly think it’s helped me more than I thought because I’m now setting boundaries and living a more mindful and minimal life which I really appreciate. But truly, it’s a continual learning process. I like to focus on one day (even just one week max) at a time.
One of the best parts of not letting myself get too overwhelmed or anxious with work is knowing that I have so many people supporting me. I think that’s a huge factor in working for yourself — making sure you have a support system to lean on. However, at the end of the day YOU have to make sure YOU want it bad enough to go after it and hustle for it. YOU are your biggest support system and if I’ve learned anything within the past two months, at the end of the day you really have yourself and you’re capable of doing whatever you really want.
This is where manifestation has come into play. In the last year alone I’ve manifested for things HARD. People ask me all the time what that looks like and for me, it’s writing down things that I want so badly to happen and believe that I can make them mine — aka turning the dreams into reality. I’m a firm believer in the energy you put out is the energy you receive. I like to think of it as your thoughts become things the longer you dream about them. To me, I always dreamed of living this life of being creative and instead of telling myself I couldn’t do it, I just went for it.
I’ve had worries and fears along the way and I’m sure I will continue to in the coming year, especially my first year of being self-employed but at the end of the day, the gratitude I have for the last few years and the ones ahead of me overrides any doubts or stresses I have.
So when people ask me, “are you okay?” and “how are things going?” here’s what I think. I’m thankful for everything that has led me to this point and to where I’m going to go from here. I have a good group of people surrounding me that lift me up daily. I’m a huge believer in staying positive and focusing on the little things and I feel like things can really only go up from here now that I’m giving this all of my time and energy. I’m happy. I feel lucky and grateful I can do this but I know not every day is going to be easy, but every day will be something new, exciting and challenging — and that’s why I love what I do. Even on my worst days, I really can’t complain.
Thanks for reading and coming along on this journey with me. More to come.