The Side Hustle

Me, seven years ago this month…it’s Monday morning. I have showered, eaten breakfast, I’m dressed in work clothes, it’s time to go to work if I plan to be on time.

While everything looked normal on the outside, on the inside, I was barely functional.

I called a friend and started crying over the phone, “I can’t do it. I can’t go to work today.” I was having a major anxiety attack, and I couldn’t calm myself down.

“Don’t go. Stay home today.”

While a part of me looks back and thinks, “Grace, where was your gratitude? You had a good paying job doing what you had dreamed of doing since the 5th grade. Just go to work.“

All true.

However, when you’re in a miserable job situation, it affects everything….physical health, mental health, relationships, marriages. It’s hard not to let it bleed into everything. In fact, a recent study said being unemployed was better on a person’s health than being in a stressful work environment.

It didn’t help that at the time, I absolutely believed my career was my identity. I lived in Washington, DC where the second question anyone asks is, “What do you do?” Who would I be if I didn’t live in DC and work in politics?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that around this time, I was approached about Stella & Dot. I had zero intention of it being anything other than a way to make $300 and have some cute jewelry. However, the more I did with my business, the more I loved it. I truly believe it saved me. Suddenly, I cared about how I looked going out the door, my job didn’t seem quite as awful because I had something fulfilling outside of it. By a few twists of fate, a year later, I found myself living in Des Moines, Iowa determined to turn my side hobby into a full time business, and I’m grateful to have succeeded.

Today there’s a term for this – the Side Hustle, and 35% of millennials have one. Not a dance move, but instead a way to supplement a 9-5 job with a fun gig that provides flexibility and pays. One friend works as a lobbyist during the day but teaches yoga on the side. Another works as a therapist, but she just opened an Etsy store. My sister sells fashion finds on Ebay. At a trunk show this spring, a non-profit fundraiser told me she was studying to become a certified gemologist. One stylist on my team works full time for Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey but loves doing trunk shows for friends and family as a way to support her jewelry habit.

For some it’s about earning money, for others it is simply an outlet for something they are passionate about.

So if you’re that teary hot mess on Monday mornings, I can promise you, there’s a way out without feeling completely irresponsible. Keep your benefits, think about looking for another job, but reserve a night or weekend or two for something that fills your cup.


With love and gratitude,