When asked what you do for a living, what do you say?
I say that I'm a freelance writer, which is usually followed by a sort of scatterbrained explanation of what I write, and for whom. I work on so many different kinds of projects and they change week by week, month by month. I love that aspect of my job, but it's not always the easiest thing to explain to someone who's probably expecting a short answer to what do you do?
How did your freelance career first come about?
I was working as a nanny in New York, and I decided to slowly start replacing my babysitting hours with writing work—it was a very slow process, but I was eventually able to transition into what was (more or less) a full-time freelance career.
Was there any feedback you had to discard when you began your career?
I've been given advice throughout my career about how to pursue the kinds of writing jobs that make the most money but I've mostly ignored it—I've also been told that ignoring that advice is dumb. Maybe it is. But I value feeling good about the work I'm sharing with people more than I value money. Obviously, I have to pay my bills so there are certain jobs I need to take—but I try to be thoughtful about what they are.
What about your work is most meaningful to you?
I do a lot of interviewing as part of my work, and I love that that consistently connects me with people who are doing inspiring things and living creative lives. My job allows me to listen to—and learn from—people every day. I feel so lucky for that.
What do you wish you knew earlier about work and career?
I wish I had a clearer understanding of the fact that I didn't need to have it all figured out as soon as I graduated college. I had this idea that I needed to know exactly what I was going to do right away, which seems so silly now. Your early twenties are the perfect time for experimenting, for trying new things, for falling on your face. There should be no rush to figure it all out (whatever that means), or to get it right the first time.
What have you learned about yourself?
That I must have wonderful guardian angels to be doing what I'm doing, and to be living where I'm living, and to have the community I'm fortunate enough to have found. I've also learned that I have very strong perfectionist tendencies—which, in turn, has forced me to work on letting them all go.
Do you have any advice for young people thinking about work?
My advice about work has very little to do with work—which seems appropriate, given that I just started a series on my site called "Non-Career Advice".
I would say that in order to be happiest at work, do your best to live a well-rounded life so that work isn't always at the center of it. There are so many areas of life that are important, not just career. Spend time cultivating real friendships, traveling, taking classes, exploring your city, dating. All of these things, you'll find, make work better, happier, and more inspired. As my dad once told me, it's important to go out and experience the world—otherwise, what would you have to write about? On a similar note, I loved what my friend Bekka Palmer said in an interview on my blog: "If all I ever did was work, my work would be lifeless."
If you could try a friend's job for a day, who would it be and why?
I have a close friend who's a florist, and I'd happily trade jobs with her for a day. I certainly don't have her knack for arranging, but I love the idea of being able to work with my hands. I think that would be incredibly satisfying.
What do your wildest dreams look like when you consider your work ten years from now?
Really, I only hope to be happy, and to continue connecting with people in meaningful ways. I've never been much of a planner, for better or for worse. I'm open to whatever comes my way. It wouldn't surprise me at all if in ten years, this path had led me someplace very different from where I am now. That, to me, is a very wild dream.
A version of this interview first appeared on the website HAPPY AND HEARTWORKING on December 31, 2014.