There's a Friends episode that took me about 15 years to get. In it, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe struggle to make ends meet while Ross, Chandler, and Monica bask in the affluence of their successes. The richer pals don't understand the struggle of their poorer ones, and instead of coming to any sort of compromise, the episode simply ends with Monica getting fired, effectively humbling her.
I grew up lucky. My family always had food to eat and a place to live, and I knew I could call my Mom or Dad for a ride if I wanted to leave a sleepover. That is privilege. And my parents reminded me of that.
I have been terrible at negotiating rates. I haven't been great at asking for raises. For years I made $10/hour as a pseudo-manager at my retail job, and found out much later that everybody in the same position was making at least three dollars more than me. Even now, when asked how much my rates are as a writer, I'm tempted to lowball myself, convinced I'll come across as greedy or unappreciative if I toss out an amount that seems too high.
For at least the first five years I spent writing, I compared myself to other people.
Follow your dreams"" is such a great piece of advice if that is a thing you can afford to do.
At 22, I was professionally flailing. I'd spent my three years since dropping out of college working at a hardware chain and then at a clothing store, finally realizing after too much managerial drama that I didn't want a future in folding jeans. So, after too many shifts spent crying over the cash register and educating my 17-year-old employees on the symptoms of a quarter-life crisis, I asked a friend for an in at the bank across the street. She worked there, she liked it, and she thought I would too. So I bought a fancy interview outfit, updated my resume, and found myself hired for a new branch about 20 minutes away.