I look at the date, and I can’t believe my eyes. How is it almost August? How have I not blogged in one month? A first for Dear Debt. I don’t know exactly where all the time went, but it was spent working, a lot.

I remember feverishly working all fourth of July weekend to meet my deadlines. The downside of being your own boss is that holidays no longer matter, especially if you want the money to keep rolling in (but I also find it a great time to work as my inbox is quiet).

Shortly thereafter, I went to Chicago for a work trip. For a period of four days, I had anywhere between one and five hours of sleep. While I was there for event work, the writing work didn’t stop and I was trying to manage everything in a clumsy juggling act, hoping to not drop the ball.

Because I’m no longer 21, but rather 31, this extreme lack of sleep and overwork seriously took a toll on my mental and physical health. I felt wrecked.

I am finally feeling recovered two weeks later, but I’m in my busy season writing a lot, preparing for events at FinCon and acting as project manager for the Road to Financial Wellness. Oh, and I’m looking at my final edits for my book.

Holy cow! When I step outside of myself for a moment, I can hardly believe all that has happened. This little old blog of mine has led to a rewarding writing and event planning career. Winning best debt blog at the Plutus awards led to a book contract.

Dreams vs. Reality

In my wildest dreams, I would have never thought any of this would happen. But as I celebrate my two-year quitiversary, I realize that having all of your dreams come true is so much different in your head than it is in reality.

In your dreams, you imagine all of the good stuff, without any thought to the bad. In reality, having your dreams come true is much sweeter — but also ten times tougher than you think it will be.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt some major business growing pains. I’ve become intimately aware of my own scarcity mindset issues, even though I’m debt free now.

One of the main things I planned on doing once I became debt free was to slow down. I have to say that hasn’t happened at all.

Business Growing Pains

I’m busier than ever and I’m doing it alone. I’m doing it alone mostly because I’m a control freak. Even though I’ve managed people in a former nonprofit job, having people help me with administrative duties still feels so weird.

As the projects roll in, I keep saying “yes”. As a freelancer, you never know if it will be feast or famine, so I always take work when it comes my way. But I’ve realized that in my fear of missing out on work, I’ve taken on too much. For me, it’s so hard to know when is too much until you are in it and trying not to have a panic attack, while you are in a mad rush to finish projects.

In an ideal world, I want to find that Goldilocks balance of work — find what is just right. But it’s hard.

Through this bout of overwork and workaholism, I’ve neglected my blog, my relationship, and my health. I’ve pushed myself to the edge and have been scared to death looking down.

I received some honest advice from friends in Chicago, giving me a nudge to “Diva Up” and really own my dreams and not let them control me. Be the boss of my own business and not be bossed around. And sometimes that means letting go, being honest with what I can and can’t do and prioritize my needs over others.

Making Mindset Changes

It’s tough for me — just a few years ago, I was making $12 per hour and on food stamps. Letting go of my past and accepting my present, while dreaming of my future, has been confusing and tough.

I don’t want to turn down work because I never want to go back to where I used to be…struggling to find work is one of the most humiliating, awful things to experience. It makes you question everything you’ve worked hard for and, in this culture, can make you feel worthless.

Having all of my dreams come true is something I’ll never take for granted. It has pushed my boundaries and taught me so much about myself.

Currently, though, I’m going through some growing pains and trying to figure it all out and manage it all.

I keep thinking of the quote “Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. I think in a lot of ways I’ve failed at that. Part of it is that I still feel “new” at this even with two years under my belt…but also the two years have proved to me that I haven’t failed and my dreams came true, not my nightmares.

So for all you dreamers and doers, know that your life can change for the better and that all of your dreams can come true. Just realize that your dreams coming true probably won’t be like you imagined and that it requires an insane amount of hard work…but it’s important to stand your ground and enjoy your life or else what is the point?

I’m realizing you can create a business that leads to freedom or you can create a business that leaves you feeling trapped. I’m working more on the freedom part — which means taking some difficult next steps, letting go of perfectionism, practicing saying “no” and getting back in touch with who I am outside of work.

In the end, I realize how freaking lucky I am and I am so grateful…and I can’t wait to make things even better, so I can take care of myself…which in the end will be better for my business anyway.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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22 responses to “When All of Your Dreams Come True”

  1. I love my 30s but they aren’t kidding around with the physical aging part and not being to eat or stay up like we’re 22 anymore!

    Good luck finding that Just Right level of work, I know the balancing act is a tough one to manage.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Married money: Combining finances or notMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I felt so wrecked in every way! New meaning to “bone tired” lol. Thanks for the kind words, feel like I’ve been struggling with this for months so really need to make some changes!

  2. Hey girl! Glad to hear from you again on your blog. Things have been much busier over here this summer than I planned on too. I thought I would experience a slow down like I did last summer, so I decided to plan ahead for it by taking on extra work. Luckily (or not), the summer slowdown didn’t really happen and now I have my regular work plus the extra work. Whew! It’s been crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy. 🙂
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…How to Jump Start Your Debt PayoffMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, I’m happy to be back. I hate neglecting my baby lol. I know what you mean…it’s been a good kind of crazy here too. A little too much, but all good nonetheless.

  3. Well first I’m so proud of you and how far you’ve come! Seriously! I’m amazed daily actually at how many people just started out as regular ol’ bloggers and now have turned it into a lucrative business. I was never one of those people, lol! But I did parlay that into a job I love now AND pays well! I can’t believe where I was a year ago either! But…take care of yourself! I mean it!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks girl! I’m so proud of you, too! You are rocking your career! Yeah, I need to take care of myself…I feel like this is my millionth post stating I’m working too much and need to find balance. Ugh. I’m sick of talking about it and need to make changes. Thanks for your support! xoxo

  4. You’re doing amazing, Melanie! Your success is truly inspiring. I’ve fallen into the scarcity mindset many times over the past two years, too. It’s part of why I’ve kept all my side hustles on top of my day job, blogging, and CFP classes. I’ve tried to combat stress with aggressive self-care — walking every day, acupuncture, cleaning up my diet, etc. Keep your head up!
    Kate @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…The Cost of Being an Artist in NashvilleMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, friend! Trying to get into a routine of walking and meditating every day. And eating well. It’s so hard if you’re already stressed! You are taking CFP classes? So cool!

  5. ZJ Thorne says:

    Good luck! Having help for the administrative tasks so you can focus on how you earn money is vital. I hope you find the balance you need soon.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…New FHA Mortgage Guidance Will Impact Borrowers With High Student Loan DebtMy Profile

  6. Life is such a balancing act! The fact that you realize you’re overwhelmed, taking a step back and evaluating is huge for doing what you need to do for yourself!

    I am a control freak and perfectionist myself, so I understand wanting to excel and do everything yourself. Sometimes, something just has to give, but balance can be hard to create within the ebb and flow of life. I wish you the best in finding your balance.
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Changing this one thing can help you solve your money problemsMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, it’s the first step! Being a control freak/perfectionist can be so exhausting sometimes! Trying to be more easygoing haha 🙂 At least in regards to work…

  7. I love this article!! Dreams do come true, but you have to work for it. No one will hand you your future on a silver platter!

  8. I can totally relate to what you’re saying. Figuring out this whole taking care of self thing while growing a business is challenging. But we’ll figure it out!

  9. Colin Ashby says:

    It’s so awesome to hear an update. It’s so crazy to think how much a blog can provide balance and change people’s lives (I loved your series of posts you had on it with other bloggers). I can’t wait to read your book! Are you going to be speaking at FinCon?
    Colin Ashby recently posted…Paul Jarvis’ Podcast ChallengeMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I’m so glad you liked that series, Colin! My book is moving along, too. Should be out soon 🙂 I am not speaking at FinCon, but am organizing a few events. Will you be there?

  10. Kelby says:

    Great post, Melanie! I’m right there with you on trying to find this elusive “balance” that people speak of. Congrats on your success, in spite of the crazy work schedule!

  11. I certainly appreciate your honesty about the ups and downs of making your dreams come true. I can totally relate to not knowing your load is too much until it’s already too late. I hope you can find balance as you learn more about yourself and own your role as boss!
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Pretend to Be Grown Up–with Epic Spreadsheet Share!My Profile

  12. anna says:

    Gosh, SO much has changed for you, but one thing that’s a constant is your emotionally raw and honest writing. I hope you find the balance, and hope you’re doing well. I am so proud of you for all that you’ve accomplished!! 🙂

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