7 Things I learned about starting a work from home, virtual assistant business and freelancing
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7 Things I Learned After Starting A Virtual Assistant Biz Last Year (Freelance Life, Anyone?)

7 Things I learned about starting a work from home, virtual assistant business and freelancing

7 Things I learned about starting a work from home, virtual assistant business and freelancing

Over 1 year after starting my company of 1, Lemonseed, LLC, I have FINALLY finished paying for the Virtual Savvy course that was the catalyst of me deciding to become a VA (virtual assistant).
I chose the monthly option payment plan and thought I was doing something, lol. And all the while, since I had a huge self realization crisis last year, it has taken me a while to get my business off the ground. Each month I had to pay that $97 when I wasn’t doing the steps to get fully booked with clients gave me a range of emotions from annoyed to sometimes even disheartened.
Here are the big insights I learned since starting a virtual assistant freelancing business last year:
  1. In August, I learned I have ADHD. This has been a HUGE challenge all my life but even MORE helpful to learn more about what ADHD and how it’s affecting me and how it makes me a super creative, enthusiastic, and details oriented person (when I like the work). I have applied these traits to my work with clients. They especially LOVE the ideas I generate on how to better a process or project they’re having me work on.
  2. I learned SO MUCH about my WORTH. But I learned when it’s OK to work for free if it’s something I CREATE, VOLUNTEER to do because of a cause I believe in, or it’s something I LOVE, vs not accepting jobs that just didn’t feel good in my body. I learned to say NO and to say YES when it’s right for me.
  3. I realized it’s OK to NOT want to freelance full time, to run a business with subcontractors, or even freelance at all sometimes! You are STILL an entrepreneur and still a business owner! One of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned over the past calendar year (I joined the course in January 2019 and was LLC’d by March 2019) is that it’s OK to be wherever you are in the process of building your business. It’s OK to stop and reevaluate what you REALLY want. Like a job! I am currently seeking a full-time role and will still freelance. But I think there’s a lot to be gained from full-time employment at an established company. I want to learn some best practices of larger, more established organizations. (I’m targeting the role of customer success manager if anyone’s interested).
  4. I DO NOT like getting paid by the hour. It’s like I’m allergic to it now! Even though I HAVE accepted some admin clients after saying I ONLY want to do creative work (which takes a lot out of you to be honest, if you’re not inspired at that moment and there’s a deadline looming), I STILL am charging by the project, week, or month. It’s way more flexible, but I still track my time with Toggl for my records.
  5. More than anything I think I have had to really overcome imposter syndrome and demon voices in my head telling me I suck. Seriously! Believing those voices stopped me from going after things I might have been good at.
  6. One major bonus insight: The seeds I have planted by putting in HOURS of work on my marketing materials like my portfolio and thinking about my pricing HAS paid off. I may not even use them with every client, but to have them there to refer to or to send off to a client and only having to make just make a few tweaks, is GOLD.  I have even used some of these materials for employee job applications. My point is, it may feel like you’re wasting time, especially if you can’t afford to outsource some task to someone, but DO THE WORK! These are seeds you’re planting now that WILL pay off in the end! Think: reviews, recommendations, referrals, the RELIEF of knowing you don’t have to start from scratch.
  7. And the final insight: A business runs on systems and lives on SALES. In the freelance world, your pitch is your ask. In the job world, submitting an application is like that initial contact with a prospect for them to eventually buy what you’re selling. If you ain’t askin’, you ain’t sellin. And I allowed so much fear to stop me from doing the very thing that gets you a solid YES, I’ll hire you at the price you want – the ASK.

 

I’m not afraid of asking anymore. Idealist I am, I’m wanting the best of both worlds. Running a business is a lot of work to do full time and to rely on it for your full time salary. I know I’m still not at the point where I want to focus on marketing every day and client acquisition…sales. It’s a numbers game. And I don’t have the team to support reaching the amount of people I would need to get the amount and quality of projects I want.

Plus, I think of a job as my “BIG CLIENT’ in a way. The companies I’m targeting for work offer high salaries, flexible work hours and location, mostly in the tech space.  They have roles that call in several of my gifts and will challenge me to grow my leadership, business, and technical acumen. So it might feel closer to contract work than working as an employee ever has before, because I simply wasn’t aware that jobs like this existed.

I don’t see my standstill in moving forward in my business as a setback and I don’t see going for a job by the end of the quarter as giving up. Rather, I see it all as another step in my journey towards financial stability and mastery, two big goals for the year.

Hit me up on Facebook and IG @starsworldsolutions to talk more about all of this.

Enjoy and stay super positive (And turn off the news!) during COVID.

Love,

Star

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ADHD, and Relationships, Dating, Friendship, Life, Mental Health

ADHD and Emotional Dysregulation – What Doctors Say and How It Really Feels [w/VIDEO]

Whether you know it or not, ADHD affects our emotions in major ways.

 

 

I did a YouTube video about how I was still in shock from the diagnosis of ADHD. When I first got diagnosed, I subsequently did research and started learning so much more about ADHD than I ever had before. I want to break down a bit more about how ADHD affects our emotions.

 

Keep in mind, how this looks for me will look different for different people at different times. (I remember that phrase used to give me so much anxiety. I just wanted an answer, some direction, and I wanted it now! Now I understand just how different we all are, even if we share many of the same challenges).

 

 

What doctors say about how ADHD affects our emotions:

 

 

According to ADDitude magazine, a website catering to people who have and interact with people with ADD (now more commonly referred to as ADHD):

Challenges with emotions start in the brain itself. Sometimes the working memory impairments of ADHD allow a momentary emotion to become too strong, flooding the brain with one intense emotion. At other times, the person with ADHD seems insensitive or unaware of the emotions of others.

This statement was reviewed by ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.

 

 

The publication names feelings like extreme sensitivity to disapproval, social anxiety and giving in to avoidance and denial (two of my favorite emotional dishes served together!) as results of the phenomenon that happens in the brain that is called emotional dysregulation.

 

(I want to stress that this happens in the brain and isn’t a conscious choice). They also mention how all of these emotional reactions can make it really hard to FOCUS AND GET STARTED ON WORK, or anything productive.

 

As I read and research, in my head I’m like, “I feel all of that doctors”. You can read the article for more details on how they say our emotions are affected by ADHD. But now I want to share how it feels to me.

 

I think it’s important to look at things from a wider point of view and to understand what’s already been written about ADHD, but to also really tune into how YOU experience whatever challenges and issues you’re going through.

 

 

What I say about ADHD affects my emotions:

 

 

Although there have been times where I feel that getting up and moving around can help me with overwhelming emotions,  I find that the emotional aspect of ADHD is a continual challenge for me.

 

In one instance that I can remember physical activity working, I had a boyfriend who yelled at me during an argument, and I just allowed myself to get extremely consumed with how upset he was at me. I worked off that feeling of powerlessness and anger by sweeping up the hair at the salon I worked at. I remember thinking “Work IS a savior.”

 

I felt like I was on the verge of doing something irrational, erratic and self-destructive because I didn’t feel HEARD, so I used physical work to distract me. (And not feeling heard is a theme I see coming up for me a LOT. I guess it’s one of my triggers.)

 

My new digital lifestyle makes it more challenging to do what works to shake off bad feelings faster – being physical.

 

 

Chalk it up to having such a free schedule and less structure. As a writer, and freelancer, most of my days and about 40%  – 60% of my time is spent being stuck (did I say stuck? I mean melded, by choice) to a computer or phone. Juggling multiple loving relationships with friends and semi-romantic partners means a lot of texting and social media.

 

In an attempt to get more done and be less distracted and consumed, I often take social media breaks from a few or all platforms for a while. But that still leaves texting. And when I get into passionate discussions, whether personal or about culture or other issues, I find myself getting really riled up and most recently have been looking at how I jump to conclusions that someone is saying something that they actually aren’t. Instead of asking what they mean, I rapidly respond in raging texts, and it has happened over and over again.

 

 

I get fixated on a phrase or word…mostly by text. And I get so stuck on what I think is being said that I don’t remind myself to first ask myself  “would this person who has proven through time, words and actions that they love me say what I think they’re saying?” I also stay seated and forget to get up, move around, and help calm and distract myself from that negative fixation with movement.

 

 

I had no idea that feeling like little things were “life and death” and that I had to respond to them RIGHT NOW was an aspect of ADHD.

 

 

I used to think of this as a testing behavior associated with what I think is my insecure anxious attachment style. And it might be. Through intense research (and experience, my Lord) I’ve found out that ADHD often travels with its buddies anxiety, bipolar, and more.

 

But now, I realize that even though I have learned to slow way way down and I have gotten so much better at my reactions, my brain still sees rejection and insult in so much of what others say.  I see it in women, colleagues, and associates as well. It gives me a pain in my chest. I just don’t let myself react to it the same way that I do with my partners. And what is most amazing is that I had no idea that this wasn’t what most people were thinking and feeling. When I express this feeling to others, they don’t express that they feel the same – unless they have anxiety!

 

Having emotionally intelligent partners helps me cope when my emotions get out of control.

 

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If I didn’t have emotionally sensitive men in my life – who knew how to tell me that what I was doing was hurting them, and the patience to hear me first make excuses, then later apologize, and then even later start to change the behavior  – they would not have the emotional intelligence to help me process my feelings. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but they have patience.

 

Having a creative outlet is essential to coping with the intense emotions of ADHD too.

 

Writing helps. And blogging, actually publishing my writing, helps me feel that all those emotions that don’t feel so good aren’t being felt for nothing. I put them in my art.

 

 

It was really important for me to learn about how emotional dysregulation or emotional hypersensitivity is tied to ADHD. It really helped me make sense of my overwhelming feelings and helped me stop blaming myself so I can focus on managing my reactions to my emotions.

 

Issa journey!

 

Stay up, Happy Dreamers. Love y’all.

Check out the video I did on ADHD and emotional dysregulation:

 

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My Journey to an ADHD diagnosis
ADHD, Life, Mental Health

My Journey to an ADHD Diagnosis

 

Hello, Happy Dreamers.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Been a while since I’ve felt like being transparent enough to do so. For a while, I knew I had something to say, I just didn’t know if anyone was listening.

Today, I decided that I couldn’t hold back any longer.

My Journey to a Diagnosis was long

Throughout my life I knew that I was different. I was struggling with something. I had the best ideas, but I never followed through with many of them. Even when I did, it seemed like I couldn’t see some of my most important projects through. I was great with deadlines, so journalism suited me. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t find a high enough paying job so I always had to juggle several side gigs while writing. I always had this nagging feeling that if only I could focus, I could be as successful as I knew I wanted to be.

My diagnosis was devastating, but it gave me clarity

On August 12th, I became aware of some devastating news. While getting up from the table after a goodbye lunch with my therapist of the past 2 years (I was supposed to be moving to New York to take an Assistant Managing Editor position with an indie newspaper I used to write for back in the day), she dropped a bomb on me – “By the way, you have all the traits of ADHD,” she said.

ADHD Y’all….Issa lot! 

I began to take stock of my life after this shocking revelation. I realized through self-examination I had a really unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Throughout my time in New York City, from ages 17 to 28 (some of those golden years are when I first started this blog back in 2012), I had fits and bouts of rage, moments where I felt like I couldn’t control my anger, my words, my sexual inclinations. It wasn’t surprising to me to find out that some of the challenges of having ADHD are to have substance abuse issues, anger, impulsivity issues, and hypersexuality.

Being a Black Woman with ADHD in America is even more difficult because we don’t share our stories so there’s less support

Now, there are several issues to unpack being a Black woman in America with ADHD. You could be a Black woman and have what they call a neurotypical brain and still have issues navigating jobs, the economy, your living situation, relationships, sexuality, and all other areas of life. That just comes with living in a society where white supremacy exists (but we are destroying it day by day by promoting wellness over wokeness – I’m so proud of us). But adding ADHD or any other mental challenge to being in an intersectional group is definitely more difficult. I wanna share what those stories are for me.

My journey to learning I have ADHD in a timeline

In the video, I talk about my timeline leading up to my diagnosis of ADHD. But to be clear:

2002 – Moved to NYC, began classes at Marymount Manhattan College

2003 – Came home, family ran out of money!

2003 – Moved back to NYC and moved in with a roommate who was a former classmate. He tried to hit me, so I moved out that night after only staying for 6 months.

2003 – Moved into the Harlem projects on 145th and 8th. I was working at The Body Shop.

2004 – Moved out to rent a room in Brooklyn and since then lived in subsequent Brooklyn rooms and apartments. I was working at a real estate company, and then a hair salon.

2005 – My sister moved to town and was working on her book.

2006 – We got an apartment together on Broadway in Bushwick. I was still working at the salon 10 hours a day, 4 days a week. It was one of the best work experiences I had that worked well with my ADHD (that I didn’t know I had yet.) It was fast-paced at times, detailed, had lots of interaction with people and a reasonable schedule. (9-7pm)

2007 – I left that job and worked at a French salon. It was a valuable experience. I had a boss who allowed me to do a lot different things, not just reception. I washed hair, promoted etc. It was also the first year me and my sister put on our first party, so that was first event.

2008  – I worked at a couple of restaurants and then I became a flight attendant. That changed my realm of vision for what was possible for me. After that I knew I wanted to travel eventually.

2010 – Left North American Airlines and moved into nonprofit at Public Allies. I LOVED my time with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation – Youth Arts Academy. It was a community organization ran by 5 black women and I felt so seen, heard, and covered and accepted. I loved working with the children and the parents. This job worked well my brain. There was a lot of action, movement, freedom, creativity, and more. I didn’t enjoy every task but I grew a lot. I moved from full time to part-time and began classes at Swedish Institute of Massage and picked up another part-time job at a salon

2013 – I had to leave that job to move to South Carolina. At that point, my fibroid was too big and my periods were painful and heavy. As I stated in the video, I had to quit school and everything. It was devastating. I didn’t even realize that moving home was an option. But my Dad told me, “come home.”

In December of that year, I enrolled at SUNY Empire State College.

2014 – I was in school and tried to start a company remotely with my current ambiguous relationship bae. ADHD definitely played a role. There were several times he got frustrated with me because he felt I wasn’t being productive enough. I had a job at Trader Joe’s and school, and although I know that was a challenge in itself, there were things that I wanted to do and focus on, but couldn’t seem too. It was frustrating and my inter critic was at an all-time high during that time. It didn’t help that I was dating a Capricorn (dating is a loose term).

2015 – We moved in together! I know it seems like a jump. But we had similar goals. We lived in Charlotte. I began working at a sex toy boutique downtown. I thrived there, but it paid less than $10/hour. I wanted to move up and get paid more. A job at a call center opened up and I only lasted 4 months. It was extremely challenging and now, reflecting on this situation knowing that I was dealing with fibroids and ADHD, man. No wonder it was a whirlwind, along with his problems he was dealing with. If only we’d had the education, understanding and resources, we probably could have made it together as a couple.

2016 – We lasted 2 years but we moved out. I moved back to South Carolina and had my surgery in October.

2017 – After taking at least 6 months to recover and working on my degree, researching a bunch of new career options, mainly in social work and education, I began a job at a homeless teen shelter. I speak about how overwhelming it became on the video.

2018 – I quit and began subbing in the schools, deciding that I wanted to be in education to work more closely with the kids. In January, I began subbing in my city. In February I graduated and then applied for New York City Teaching Fellows. No offense to the program – I learned a lot about the special needs of students in Title 1 schools, but it didn’t prepare me for the teaching job I would later acquire.  I was in the program from May and taught from September to November of 2018. During this time, I began working on my coaching/counseling skills by reading Tarot. By the end of the year, I’d had a very eye-opening experience that caused me to end that practice. I still know I wanted to

2019 – Shit. Here I am. In August of this year, I learned I have ADHD. My life is starting to make a hell of lot more sense now.

The video says so many things that became clear to me right before and after being diagnosed with ADHD – it changed my identity – and I think it’s for the better.

 

Stay True, Happy Dreamers.  I love you.

 

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