Well, it is. Period.
People are constantly asking me how my business is going. I'm polite to them. "It's good" or "It's okay," but never the truth. The truth is "This sh*t is hard. Especially when you're doing it with no money and little time." Granted, I'm not "broke broke." I'm employed, have healthcare, and a home to return to at the end of the day. Since when does that mean I'm financially "in the clear" though? And how do you budget for your dreams, anyway? I mean, unless you have a network or support system that can finance them in some way, and my village lacks a treasurer.
"Okay, well make time for your dreams," they said.
Well, I've done the math and the logic. You can't make time; you have to find it from what's available. Here's what I came up with. From midnight to approximately 6:00 a.m., I'm generally asleep. After I wake up, I spend 45 minutes preparing for the day (bathroom, dressing, "breakfast," and mental preparation). The commute to work takes about 30 minutes. Upon arrival, work begins, and I spend at least 8 hours at work. AT LEAST. In rush hour traffic, it takes me about 45 minutes to get home. So far, that's 16 hours of the day. After the commute, if I go straight home, I head to my chair with eight hours left.
Self-care (I've learned the hard way) is self-directed until you ignore it for too long. That means I don't hit the chair with a fire to take on the world. Not a hyperactive one, at least. I need processing time, if only to figure out if I even know what the hell happened during the day. I give myself an hour to think and an hour to eat and digest. (Lost another two hours.) Sometimes I fall asleep because offering my energy to teenagers all day is an exhausting way to earn a check way beneath my professional worth. Chalk up another two (or three). Three to four hours of the day left, and in that time, I pull myself together to create things I like and hope others will support.
There are times when this pressure is consuming, and I just sleep. Other times, I don't sleep, but I may not boast productivity either. Sometimes, I'm being a daughter, granddaughter, cousin, friend, or just plain human and don't go straight home in exchange for a life. (After all, creatives need to be inspired too. Especially by life...) Sometimes I feel guilty about this, but regardless of how I use those fleeting eight hours (including two for decompression), I still have to face that I'm trading 16 for eight.
That tired trope of rise and grind neglects the individual. Not getting sleep and constantly "grinding" the way the likes of "Making the Band" Diddy dictated doesn't work for me, and it damn sure does nothing for the worries I have. (Money. Credit. Support. Stability. Security. Just to name a few...)
Because I'm doing it by myself, I understand that I often have to lose more than I can afford to lose. Literally. Losing sleep or running up my credit card a little for supplies, I don't mind. Losing the stability of independent living, I do. I can't return to my parents' home. I haven't been the "kid in the house" in over a decade, and I don't intend to return. I work to keep myself separate. Yes, I have dreams, but I for damn sure can't get to them while negotiating space with my parents and explaining my comings and goings. Those things are enough to crumble my mental health. I work to keep personal space.
That's also why I need money I don't have to pay back. The cycle of debt and bad credit is familiar to me. In my younger years, I watched and was impacted by a lot of decisions that were the result of financial insecurity and illiteracy. Predatory lending hits the desperate and uninformed first and hardest. Those connected to them can follow or figure it out. Dreams are not a factor in this process when I'm about half a generation away from financial insecurity. I have PTSD from being an unintentional financial burden on my mother. I don't ever want to be "without" again, and I don't want to see her do it either.
Safe to say I'm still trying to figure it out. Still trying to keep my head out my daydreams enough to persist. (I seriously daydream about receiving a large sum of money at least three times a day). Still building a network and a following. Still moving. But bootstrapping is a myth. Like Jennifer Lewis said on Blackish this week, "Everyone needs help." And she was talking about gifted money to take advantage of an opportunity (scholarships, grants, etc.). What we do with that money is a matter of character and goals, but having it opens the door to figure both of those things out.
I hear you, mother of Black Hollywood. Until everyone else does, all I got is, "This shit...is real hard..."