To my family, my business was always seen as my “little blog.”
When I first started blogging, they very much saw it as a hobby, even though it was making money. Five years later, that “little blog” is now an award-winning and globally recognized money, career, and side hustle resource platform for LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent folks. It’s been featured in The New York Times, Investopedia, MSN, Yahoo! Finance, and more. I’ve also written for other publications, such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Business Insider.
What was once seen as a hobby is now financially empowering thousands of people across the world to earn more, save more, and build their own ideal lives. It had so much momentum that I walked away from my 11-year career in tech to pursue it full-time.
It was a decision my parents did not like.
Considering their own beliefs around money, work, and what they did to build a life together, it makes sense that they didn’t understand my decision. Money and career-building were a little different for them.
‘From Side Hustle To Second Salary’
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My Family’s View of Money and Work
I’m a child of an immigrant. My dad came from Venezuela when he was just 18 years old. He met my mom, who was born in the U.S., in college.
They both had a very specific idea of what the “American Dream” was. My dad came to this new country not knowing the language very well, and he felt very out of place as he spent the next several years getting his degree and working his way up in IT from the help desk. My mom finished her college education alongside him, often helping him with the parts of school that were difficult because of the language barrier. Then, she went back and finished nursing school while I was a toddler.
My parents saw their lives and careers through the lens of “if we work hard enough, we will get to where we want to be”. My dad worked his way up the career ladder to become a technical architect, while my mom went on to become a nurse, and, later, a surgery center administrator. They both went up against the same discrimination we see today in the workplace in the form of racism, xenophobia, and sexism. In some cases, they had to work ten times harder to get to the same place in their careers as their coworkers.
My mom and dad both worked several jobs throughout college and until my early childhood years. I always saw them working. To me, they were the original side hustlers. To them, their side jobs were never meant to be the main show. The jobs were tools they used to make extra money that could help them get by, and save more money for their life goals. They were very much invested in their full-time day jobs and careers — so much so that they never gave much thought to doing anything else.
I think it’s important to note that they also had a child to support, so in many cases they didn’t get much of a chance to be able to make risky career pivots like that. I don’t have children and don’t plan on ever having them.
They also saw me always side hustling myself, starting in high school and my early years of college. At one point, I worked three jobs while also going to school full-time. After college, I continued to do different side hustles to help save more and pay off debt.
When I started my blog to document my experiences and my journey, my parents saw it as part hobby, part side hustle. To them, you can’t just make random money from your own creations on the internet, and you certainly can’t make a full-time living from it. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth it to walk away from a stable corporate job for something with an unclear future.
It’s because of them that I have the type of privilege to even be in the place I am today. Of course, they found it difficult to understand why I wanted to make the decision to quit my job and bet on myself. They’ve always known only one way to have a stable income, build a life, and create sustainable wealth: have a corporate job.
In 2022, job stability is a thing of the past.
“The American Dream”
In many ways, I had a lot of the same doubts my parents did. I was brought up with a lot of the same beliefs they had around money and how we work in America.
“The American Dream” goes like this: You go to college, get a job, buy a house, start a family, build a life together, and then one day in your sixties you finally get to retire, stop playing the American capitalist game, and relax for your remaining years. This is a dream that is sold to folks with the promise of “if you work hard enough, you can do and have whatever you want.”
Except that isn’t even possible anymore. The days of folks staying at the same company for 30+ years and retiring with a nice pension are gone. 40% of people have side hustles, and many are doing it just to survive and make ends meet. Housing is the most expensive it’s ever been with the highest rate of homelessness in history. Inflation is up, and wages haven’t grown enough to keep up. Income inequality is more obvious than ever, with CEOs earning an average of 324 times more than their median workers.
That dream was a scam. It might’ve once existed, but is now only possible for a small subset of highly privileged Americans. I wanted to pursue my own dream. I didn’t want to be a cog in someone else’s machine while I waited until my sixties to do something that sparks my curiosity and feeds my soul.
I wanted to build something of my own, no matter how terrified I was to do it. I wanted to know that, even if I failed, I at least tried.
I loved my career in tech for a while until I didn’t, which is perfectly fine. We aren’t meant to do only one thing for the rest of our lives. We are meant to explore other skills and other parts of ourselves if we want to.
The Mindset Work I Did To Get Past My Inner BS
Mindset is a beast to tackle while you are side hustling and building a business that you want to one day replace your day job. Every doubt imaginable crossed my mind.
What if I regret leaving my job? What if it doesn’t work out the way I hoped? What if I go back into debt? What if I screw up my career with this? What if I don’t earn as much as I would with keeping both? What if I make a fool of myself?
As I replayed every doubt in my head, I could hear my parents voices in the back of my mind telling me what to do. Except, those thoughts weren’t me.
I had to start doing a lot of inner work. I got a therapist. I started to face the real hurdle in front of me — myself.
I still work on confronting myself every day, because even after I finally made the leap to full-time, the doubts are still there. They go away one day, to only return the next. Most of the time, they don’t have any evidence to stand on, and are only there because they’ve been embedded into me from such a young age from this very work-focused culture many of us have grown up in.
Don’t let someone else dictate what you should do with your life. Life’s too short to work toward a dream that isn’t even yours to begin with. You deserve to explore your creativity, your passions, your curiosities, other parts of yourself, and what sets your soul on fire.
It’s only natural to feel this way in a world that perpetuates only one “right way” to be successful. They don’t get to define what success is. Only you and I can do that.
So, I started to get really clear on what I thought success meant. To me, success meant waking up in the morning and being excited for the day ahead. For so long, I woke up dreading the day ahead, getting screamed at by managers in meetings, doing twice as much at work for little in return, and seeing first-hand a blatantly obvious classist system within many companies, and how unfairly workers are sometimes treated by upper-level management.
I didn’t see a future for me in the direction I was going. I wanted to do meaningful work where I felt I had some sort of positive impact. I wanted something real out of my working life, and I was prepared to do whatever I had to to get there.
How My Parents Came Around
After sitting down with my wife to discuss my quit date and where we were with our savings, it was finally time for me to make the leap. We were in the perfect position financially, and I was so lucky to have her and her job to help support this decision. It’s important to note that I am not single, and it can be more difficult when you are single to make a decision like this.
My parents saw my progress over the years with my business and my accomplishments. When they heard about my plans, they pushed back a few times. Each time I kept telling them I was doing it anyway, despite their doubts.
Then, my mom retired early from a toxic job, while my dad was planning to retire soon after. They were fed up with their own jobs, and started to see what I was talking about. And then, something magical happened when it came to the month of me quitting: they were right alongside me, cheering me on, something I thought would never happen.
The same people who made it possible for me to even have a career to begin with were now helping make my business and this new life of mine a full-time reality. Not monetarily, but with their open and loving support.
I am so thankful for the life and the opportunities they’ve given me. It’s because of them I get to do this, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
If you’re looking to make the leap and quit your job for your business, or are planning for early retirement and your family isn’t 100% on board, ignore them and keep pushing forward. Life’s too short to live someone else’s dream, or to not do something that you really want to do just because someone else doesn’t understand it.
They’ll eventually come around because they love you — and they want whatever makes you happy.