I’m really good at sticking with things, if I do say so myself. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer and web developer since I was 11. I regularly hang out with the same group of friends I met in ninth grade, in the same metropolitan area I grew up in. And of course, I’ve been writing in this blog every week for the past seven years.
Perhaps I’m a little bit allergic to change.
So it wasn’t exactly planned in advance that my previous week would be totally different. Here are three brand new experiences I had last week:
Started a web development blog.
Because a new blog is exactly what I need, right?
I’ve been having trouble converting new clients with my web design sales page, so I thought maybe a personal touch was needed. That makes it sound like I put a lot of time into planning it, but it was really spur of the moment—I have an available domain name, a good theme (that I built myself, actually), and didn’t I just write in my earning course that the best way to get found on Google search is to pack a site with 10,000 words of useful content?
Now I’m having second thoughts like, “How often should I update this thing?” but it’s rare for me to do first and think about it later. It was a welcome change.
Got rejected from a job I tried my hardest on.
The thing about freelance writing is that you’re constantly interviewing for the next gig. I’m always pitching to editors, sending query letters and writing samples, all for the chance at some paying work later on.
This opportunity was especially important to me, but I’m not going to give you any details other than that, for obvious reasons. What I can share is the feeling of confidence I had when I turned in my writing samples. I thought I’d nailed the pitch! It’s embarrassing to admit it now, but I was so certain I was going to get this job that I preemptively made a folder in Google Drive for it, like I have for each of my ongoing gigs to store my assignments in.
I don’t feel dumb now because I didn’t get the job—I don’t get jobs all the time. We freelance writers have to remind ourselves it could be about a million different reasons that have nothing to do with our skills. I feel dumb because I celebrated too early, and after a decade at this I should know that no matter how good I get at writing, I won’t be every editor’s cup of tea.
Got a massage at a Korean spa while completely naked.
The evening I got the rejection letter, I still wasn’t quite over it. So I took up an invitation that I wouldn’t have usually accepted: a friend asked if I wanted to go to Spa World with her the following morning for some spur-of-the-moment stress relief. Normally I don’t take off on a weekday without a lot of planning, but she couldn’t have known how on board I was!
Spa World is a local curiosity. While fully nude spas that serve excellent Korean food are probably more common in, say, South Korea, here it’s the only one of its kind. After an hour or so in the “bade pool” to get over our awkwardness and culture shock, we signed up for massages that were much more vigorous—and personal—than either of us expected. We came back from the massage area with raw pink skin and the haunted look that always characterizes a minorly-traumatic experience that is sure to become a great story at parties with a little time. After that, it was time to don the spa’s orange jumpsuits and hang out in the co-ed area, which included gemstone-studded saunas (to remove toxins, obviously), and some of the best curry rice and taro bubble tea of our lives.
It was a weird week, to put it lightly. And it wasn’t all good. But I find that for somebody like me, whose job relies so heavily on creative juices, new experiences are absolutely vital.
Last year, I wrote about why it’s important to stop thinking and start doing. And yes, getting started is important on the stuff you’ve already planned to do is important. But so is experiencing new things that you didn’t exactly plan. Taking risks breaks up the monotony. Even if things don’t work out for me in the end, I can take pride in leaving my comfort zone. It jostles me just enough that returning to my day-to-day work feels comforting and welcome.
If you’re feeling stuck, take a break from chipping away at the project that’s stressing you out and try something risky, weird, but most importantly, new to you. It just might help.
Photo by Sarah Ackerman.