When I was first getting started, I never imagined where I’d be today.
Back in the beginning, I was simply surviving.
At 19, as the granddaughter of the founder of a Fundamentalist cult, I knew that if I didn’t change something, I’d be destined to carry his vision, not mine, forward. I’d be a silent shadow. A nobody.
Accepting my fate wasn’t good enough, so I did something different.
I took my passion and turned it into a living.
I took that means of living and turned it into a legacy that gave me my freedom. Today, Express Writers has over 100 on staff, and through Content Hacker, I’ve reached and mentored hundreds of people.
Today’s video and blog recap is a wider message than I normally share—but I was inspired to share this one because I believe it’s through our stories, our vulnerability, that we impact people in the biggest and best ways.
4 Things I Learned from Growing Up in Hardship & Starting with Less Than Nothing
The real story of how I grew up and escaped a cult is too much to get into here, but what I do want to focus on are the lessons I learned for some serious inspiration for your journey forward. (Are you into memoirs and true-crime stories? You can read my full, crazy story in my book, Woman Rising. Warning: R-rated.)
Whether you’re eyeing that dream you wish you were chasing or just trying to figure out what you want to do, this one’s for you. Here are four things I learned on the long, long road to my freedom.
1. In Struggle, There’s an Opportunity to Spot Your Passion
“My life is so perfect right now! If only I had accomplished x, y, and z!”
Said no one ever.
I don’t know about you, but I side-eye all those success stories on Instagram that make it all look so blissful and easy.
My path hasn’t been either – in fact, that’s the norm. (According to Timothy Sykes, the average millionaire goes bankrupt 3.5 times in their life before making it big.)
And there’s a reason for it.
Your passion is a guiding star. We don’t figure out what we want in the moments when we’re happiest. We only catch that glimmer of our passion when it’s dark enough for it to shine.
But here’s the thing: You don’t have to wade through trauma. We all have those moments where we’re sitting by, daydreaming about that life we wish we had.
In fact, at the height of the pandemic in June 2020, just 14 percent of American adults indicated that they were happy with their lives.
The overwhelming majority of us have some seed of discontent that we’ve been nursing.
And you know what? That’s all you need.
The next time that moment of clarity presents itself, don’t say “If only.” Instead, ask, “What if?”
2. Never Underestimate the Power of the Internet
A decade or so ago, when I was just getting started, my resources were scarce. There were few major bloggers around. The Content Marketing Institute had only established itself a couple of years earlier.
But otherwise? I was on my own to figure out what “good content” really meant.
Fast forward to 2021, and we’ve gone from 350,000 websites (2012) to 1.8 billion. We’re practically swimming in knowledge and resources on almost any topic we want.
You don’t have to do much guesswork to figure out what you need to be successful. Somewhere out there, all the knowledge you need has been laid out.
If you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve got the means to teach yourself new skills and create new opportunities. Take advantage of it.
3. Nothing Replaces Putting in the Work
In Skip the Degree, I share a pathway to success defined by the four L’s:
- Level Up
I believe ANYONE can use these four L’s to make a life for themselves in this incredible digital age.
But there’s a reason one of these four L’s is Labor.
Contrary to what all those internet gurus out there want you to believe, get-rich-quick schemes only make the gurus rich.
You didn’t need me to tell you that, right? It’s a well-known open secret.
But there’s another reason why I don’t like get-rich-quick schemes: Shortcuts will always shortchange you. Not just in experience and the chance to grind at your new skills, but everything else you gain when you roll up your sleeves and put in the work.
I’m talking about:
- The trials and errors that give you a deeper understanding than anything a book can teach. Mistakes are not failures; they’re learning opportunities. If you never made any mistakes, how much would you really learn?
- The tangible proof that you know what you’re doing. If you’re in an industry like content marketing, you’ve got to walk your talk. That’s only possible if you’ve practiced and honed your skills.
- The lived experience that gives you a unique perspective on your industry and the world. Hey – does that sound an awful lot like what a content differentiation factor is? (It should!)
4. When You Know What You Want, the Way Becomes Clear on Its Own
I was given a precious gift early on in life: discovering my talent and passion for writing. From the moment I sat down in front of the computer at 19 and discovered that it is possible to make a living writing online, I catapulted into this career.
I had no idea that I would one day build a million-dollar empire. My sights weren’t set that high.
At the time, I was simply focused on surviving, on looking for a way to escape the nightmare into which I’d been born.
Not everyone starts out like that. (Thank the Lord.)
But, this doesn’t mean you can’t discover your own talents and passions, then pursue them wholeheartedly, the same way I did (minus the beginning).
I’m able to look back and see the road that I took – but that’s something that you can really only do after you’ve traveled it. (That’s partly why I wrote Skip the Degree.)
Focus on where you are and what your next step should be. Over time, the path will become clear. When you’re ready to level up – whether from freelancer to business or something else – trust me. You’ll know.
Remember: When You’ve Got Nothing to Lose, You’ve Got Everything to Gain
At 19 years old, I’d taken my last $75 and bought a website theme and hosting—while living in a cult.
There was gas, food, and other necessities to buy, on top of that.
I literally used everything I had to FUEL MY DREAM. And here I am today.
If you have $1,000… you have 13x more money than I started with.
Mic 🎙 over to you.
What are YOU doing to create the life and legacy you want?
It’s never too late to get started doing what you love. Check out the Content Hacker Academy today to see how I can help you grow.