A Sense of Possibility Is How You Know You're Alive | Internetly Vol. 2
On burnout, monetizing your creativity, and the forgotten crucial part of sending out a cold pitch.
Have you ever felt like this before?
In the throes of winter, this was exactly how I felt like. I was overwhelmed with work, eyeballs glued to the screen from 9 AM to 9 PM.
The to-do list was never-ending, a deluge of demands and obligations. One January night, I drew a bath but didn’t close the drain. I sat under the faucet, letting a stream of boiling water cascade over my shoulder.
Thoughts were ping-ponging across my head in a panic. I just need to get through this week. I just need to get through this week. I remember pulling my knees tighter to my stomach, my eyes glossing over, and zoning out until my skin turned red.
Needless to say, I burnt out (literally and figuratively).
I have since rearranged my priorities, and taken a mild hiatus from work. I still work on ad hoc projects, but leave plenty of ample time to...relax.
This is me, on the other side. I got through those weeks.
But you want to know what the sick part is?
Relaxation has morphed into apprehension. I get suspicious when the to-do list is tameable. Because, in all honesty, I don’t know how to function when I’m not melting under stress.
I’ve recently uncovered I have a tendency - an instinct - to tie my self-worth into labor.
My compulsion with productivity is damaging. It quips at me that if I don’t end my day absolutely, completely exhausted, then I didn’t do enough. Chances are, you’ve felt the same in our productivity-obsessed, hustle-porn culture.
I’m still unlearning this. It takes time!
So while this week was oddly calm, it managed to also be anxiety-inducing. In case you’re feeling the same, here’s your reminder that your self-worth is not determined by your labor.
And with that, let’s dive into it.
🖼 On Becoming a Prolific Creator
This Week: Don’t Pressure Your Creativity to Make You Rich
For those of you who are new here, Write of Passage is David Perell’s online writing course. A Personal Monopoly is your unique intersection of skills, traits, and capabilities, rendering you the best thinker on a particular topic.
It is the blueprint for your creativity.
It is the source of your originality.
And it very intimidating to determine.
The person I was chatting too was having a hard time figuring it out (understandably). Then, he said something that made me think, “Ooh.”
“I keep having troubles figuring out what my Personal Monopoly is because I’m trying to think of a way to monetize it. How to make money from it…but I just don’t know what I could do or say that will lead to that.”
While his heart was in the right place, you should never put the onus on your creativity to make you money.
If you start creating with a mindset rooted in monetization, it’s going to stall your creative juices.
Your creativity is ethereal, a spirit weaving in and out of your consciousness. It doesn’t speak English and certainly doesn’t know what “money” is. Heck, it doesn’t know “utility bill” even means.
You yell at your creativity, “Make me money!” or “Make me likable!” it’s going to stare at you blankly. It’s like a cat - it has no idea what you’re saying, and all you're doing is freaking it out.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love” is big on this.
Gilbert worked loads of odd jobs for years while writing books. It wasn’t until EPL went completely bonkers that she quit her job. As she said,
I did not quit all my other jobs until “Eat Pray Love” became a crazy bestseller, you guys. And “Eat Pray Love” was a freak of nature. The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world.”
Your creativity is a fragile, beautiful thing. Don’t force it to pay off car payments.
Monetization First. Creativity Last. 🛑
Creativity first. Monetization Last. ✅
🥒 Content Diet
Here’s this week’s little vitamin packet of nutritional information.
OhHeyAdam’s TikTok series on “Advice for 20”.
You wouldn’t think a TikTok would count as part of a healthy content diet but bear with me on this one.
Adam is a 30-something who makes TikToks for the lost 20-somethings. Episode 12 stood out to me on a profound level.
Adam recounts how he used to live his life in an utter formulaic fashion.
He got the perfect GPA, internships, jobs, and soon catapulted into career-land. Yet, he was deeply unhappy. And then, his roommate from college passed away.
“It took understanding and internalizing the possibility of death for me to understand that I wasn’t really living my life.
So I made some big changes.
I took an opportunity to do something I’d never done in a place I’d never been. That step led me to where I am now.
Don’t be afraid of the messiness and chaos life can sometimes bring you. You really don’t know if that wind of change is going to bring something new or a seed to be planted.
That sense of possibility? It’s how you know you’re living.
For a few years now, I’ve had this deep desire to fling myself to opposite ends of the world. And whenever I have the chance, I take it.
I studied abroad in Australia in 2017. Backpacked Southeast Asia solo for half a year in 2019.
The Champagne pools in Australia in 2017. On the right, in The Phillippines 2019.
And right before COVID turned our lives upside down, I’d purchased a one-way ticket to Bali, set to jet off April 24th, 2020.
I could never figure out why I’ve always had this sense of longing for a place I’ve never been to. To set up a new life where no one knows me, and I don’t know anyone. It’s always felt unreasonable and a bit selfish.
Now, I understand. It is that sense of possibility. You see the vine of potential unfold around you, injecting you with awe, growth, and wonder.
As Poet Mary Oliver asks us, "Listen—are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?" Are we remaining stagnant, trapped in the inner workings of our comfort zone?
And let me ask you: When’s the last time you felt as though anything could happen?
A sense of possibility is how you know you’re living, not just alive. 💐
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
This week, my life coach assigned the first three chapters of “The Untethered Soul” as required reading.
Singer’s first chapter is titled', “The Voice Inside Your Head,” and references our inner monologue. AKA, that chatty little voice inside our heads.
Brace yourself for this one.
“No matter what the voice is saying, it’s all the same.
It doesn’t matter if it’s nice things or mean things, worldly things or spiritual things. It doesn’t matter because it’s still just a voice talking inside your head.
If you’re hearing it talk, it’s obviously not you.
You are the one who hears the voice. You are the one who notices that it’s talking.”
It’s mind-boggling to wrap our minds around the fact that we aren’t our thoughts.
We merely have a voice in our heads, who drives us insane but is simultaneously the very essence of our intellectual capabilities. But if we aren’t our thoughts, who really are we?
But here we enter murky waters. Is there a separation between body and mind? And where does the soul or spirit fit into this paradigm shift? Do we even have a soul?
It’s worth noting at the very least, there is a sense of reassurance knowing we aren’t our thoughts. There is a layer of serenity deep inside of us, past the anxiety, stress, musings, and inquisitions.
Our inner voice is a maniac who we happen to be locked inside a room with. 🎭
The New Generation of Internet Citizens
Isn’t it crazy to think billions of people still don’t have access to the internet?
The internet has become the fabric of our lives, tying us all together. And yet, in 2021, only 40% of the world’s population is online.
But by 2022, another 1.5 billion people will have access to the internet and will finally join us in this fantastical (and very weird) place.
Looking at this map, we can see a large majority of them will come from Asia and Africa. Interestingly, the U.S still has rugged rural and remote places with not a drop of WiFi.
Who knows how the world will change once these people have the power of the internet at their fingertips?
A large majority of the world still isn’t connected to the internet. Weird. 🗺
✍🏼 Freelancing Journey
This Week: Cold Pitching is More Than Just a Good Email
Earlier this week, I published a Tweet that got a few people, um, a little angry.
They seemed to have deleted their account, but someone re-tweeted what I said with a caption that looked something like this:
“People aren’t busy. Emails don’t get lost. No one wants your spammy emails.”
Compared to how the internet can turn chillingly brutal, this is re-tweet was lukewarm commentary at best.
I get where they’re coming from. They have no idea who I am. For all they know, I’m out there spamming anyone with pleas for money and attention.
But here’s the thing.
Cold emailing people used to terrify me. And to email them more than once? Nope. Nuh-uh. No. Forget about it. I would have never.
So, what changed?
I realized I was only reaching out to people to who I thought I could genuinely provide value. Each email was carefully crafted, personalized to each recipient. I’d spend at least an hour doing the research.
And if they’re not interested, that’s okay. It’s not like I’m going to bang down their door in the middle of the night (or will I?)
But listen: if you are sending out an email of genuine value, you must send it more than once (if they don’t answer).
People are genuinely busy. A lot of the clients I’ve worked with so far, I’ve emailed at least a handful of times.
If you are emailing a brand/company, send out 3-4 emails, 2-3 messages on their social media pages (whichever is most active). If you are emailing an individual, only send 2-3 emails and 1 on social media.
But none of this matters if you don’t send a valuable cold pitch.
And what goes into that, anyways?
I’ll touch upon that next week.
Cold pitching isn’t only about sending a good email - you must follow-up with people if they don’t respond. 🙅🏼♀️
Thank you so much for reading 💌
How did I do?
How are we feeling about the TL;DR lil’ summary?
I always love to hear from you.
And hey, if you liked this newsletter and haven’t subscribed already, it would mean the world if you did!
Have a wonderful rest of your day ♥️