The Experience That Changed My Life

Almost a year before I started freelance writing, I decided to start freelance writing. Like, properly committed to the fact that I was going to do it, with a plan of how to start and everything. I waited a whole ten months before actually doing anything about it though. Why? I’m not sure.

Fear?
Because I had savings to live on for a while?
Because I was lazy?
I procrastinated?
It was easier not to?
Because my aunt got a puppy, and I spent every day hanging out with him instead of doing what I knew I should do?

All of the above and more, probably. Starting your own business is pretty scary. Often people have to reach breaking point at their jobs before they will catapult themselves into the world of entrepreneurship (I did).

Because how do you know where to start? What if you’re making a big mistake, or it doesn’t work? What if you’re just crap at it or not cut out for it? And it’s not as if you have anyone to talk to about it, because your parents want you to keep your secure paycheque, your co-workers don’t understand why you would want to leave your brilliant job, your friends think you’re crazy and your partner’s worried you won’t be able to pay your half of the rent.

There was a defining moment that made all the difference for me. Well, that defining moment and everything that came after it.

I attended the World Domination Summit. A conference full of like-minded people. Remarkable people who wanted to make a difference in the world, and to lead lives they loved. Freelancers, travellers, entrepreneurs, aspiring business owners, writers, artists, inventors, creators, people who wanted to do things a little differently. A community of people centred around adventure and service. And those are my favourite kind of people.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that WDS changed my life. Well, I guess I changed my life by making the decision to go. I could’ve just sat at home, continued to read the blogs of all the people I knew would be attending, and trying to think my way into being a business owner instead of actually becoming one.

It wasn’t really the conference or the inspiring speakers up on stage or everything I learned while I was there that made the difference. It was the people.

Without having people to talk to who get it, who will support you and advise you, and celebrate and commiserate with you, it’s so fucking hard. You feel alone. You can’t quite put your finger on what you’re feeling that’s holding you back – but I can pretty much guarantee that being around like-minded people, talking to them, learning from them, becoming friends with them, will make a huge fucking difference. HUGE.

Reading about it on the internet is not the same. You have to actually get involved. I was a lurker for the longest time. I’ve never really been one for commenting on blogs or talking to random people on Twitter, or any of that other stuff you’re supposed to do to ‘build your network.’ But it’s true – you really do need a network of people to fall back on and bounce ideas off.

And meeting them in person makes everything so much BETTER. It’s more natural, less ‘weird,’ and you connect in a more real way. Because people on the other side of the screen don’t really feel like they’re real, do they? Not until you actually start getting involved with the community anyway – and meeting people in person is 100% the best way to do that.

Since I attended WDS, I’ve become close friends with lots of like-minded people. Some I met at WDS, others I didn’t. It’s been easier than ever to make new connections now that I have a core group of friends who get it. Your friends introduce you to others, and those others introduce you to even more others, and suddenly you don’t feel weird chiming in on a Twitter conversation or starting a new thread on a forum or friending somebody you’ve never met on Facebook but who runs in the same circles as you. (And I promise never to say ‘runs in the same circles’ in a non-ironic way again.)

Attending WDS is what started it all for me. If you’re feeling the same as I was, see if there are any real, physical people you can meet in your local(ish) area. A conference? A meetup? The internet knows. Find out! And then go!