I’ve been working with The Prowl off and on for a while now, and I’m currently wrapping up a gig which involves me sharing something about their website. I can never think of a graceful way to sidle into sponsorship territory, but at least it feels completely honest and non-squicky to tell you that there’s a particular aspect of The Prowl that I really, really enjoy. It’s not the board creation part, although the site makes doing so super easy (in that respect it’s much like Pinterest) — it’s the “Ask & Answer” section of the website. There you can post things like “What dress would go with these shoes?” or “Help me find awesome novelty wine charms” or “I’m looking for an oversized print of a pug to hang on my wall but artistic rather than cartoony and it has to be a BRINDLE pug NOT A FAWN PUG!!!” — I mean, questions are all over the board from fairly generic to mind-bogglingly specific, and I find it great fun to try and answer them. Not that I have my own personal finger on, like, the pulse of today’s hottest shopping trends or anything, but I love the challenge of looking for that perfect dress/charm/pug/what-have-you. Every time I come up with what I think is a decent suggestion, I feel immensely satisfied. Useful, even.

I also really like surfing the answers to Prowl questions I didn’t know I would be so interested in, like this request for unique wedding rings or this roundup of splashy bedroom decor. Anyway, check it out, maybe you’ll enjoy it too, thus concludes today’s sponsored content.

Different but related subject: I was basking in that feeling of usefulness a few days ago, having turned in a difficult writing project that ended up exceeding my client’s expectations. God, the full-bodied sense of relief/reward after seeing something through the intimidating blank-document stage (where I invariably find myself staring, with a sort of creeping panic, at an open TextEdit window, unable to think of a single word), and the cherry-on-top of having someone actually praise my finished work. Freelancing has taught me a lot about self-motivation and deriving value where I can, and I often think back to the final years at my last job and how in retrospect I wish I’d worked harder to strike out on my own rather than letting myself become so unhappy and apathetic. From where I am now, I feel better suited to untangle some of the messy feelings I was left with, and I know I am as much to blame as they were for letting the situation get as crappy as it did. I should have left earlier, before I felt so disenfranchised. Before I had the revolving-door of bosses who kept quitting because they saw the writing on the wall, before I gave up, before I got resentful and angry and full of self-doubt. I should have, but I didn’t, and that’s on me.

But maybe everything really does happen for a reason, career-change timing included? I’m never quite sure if I believe that or not. At any rate, I’m grateful for the imperfect, unpredictable, often-weird gig that is self-employment, and for the moments of bursting pride that come as the result of going it solo. And for all the places where I can connect with people — blogsTwitterFacebookInstagramProwlwherever — when things start to feel too lonely.


19 Responses to “The Prowl, praise, perspective”

  1. Stephanie on January 29th, 2014 7:13 pm

    I was “released” from my last job in my demanding career that required many many years of schooling and the passage of an incredibly difficult test. It marked the beginning of the worst 18 months of my life, but it also put me in a position where I was FORCED to be more open minded about what I wanted, and what would make me happy (that career, which for me involved making rich people richer, was quite literally killing my spirit and sucking out my soul bit by billable hour bit). After a year in a temp gig, I found a job that I absolutely adore. Never in a gajillion years did I EVER think I would be this happy professionally. So yeah…it might not quite be “everything happens for a reason,” because those 18 months totally sucked serious ass…but I am happy with where I ended up, and that’s pretty cool.

  2. Alyce on January 29th, 2014 7:15 pm

    I had a similar awakening regarding my work life. Turns out I like being helpful, good at what I do, and vocally appreciated. Have a feeling those boards are going to suck me in – in a good way. Way down the rabbit hole already following the wedding ring question!

  3. Kim on January 29th, 2014 7:55 pm

    Having been a longtime fangirl of this blog, I can’t tell you how great it is even way back when you just posted about stuff you like, for what is cool to you is pretty much always right on the money for me. In fact, reading The Fault in Our Stars and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves can directly be credited to you, as can The Prowl, which helped my find some awesome Christmas presents for people normally impossible to get stuff for.
    Good stuff.

  4. Penne on January 29th, 2014 9:43 pm

    Never squicky at all coming from you. It makes me happy when good writers get paid and I like seeing you succeed in what you were brave enough to take off and try. Off to play with The Prowl!

  5. Koa on January 29th, 2014 10:19 pm

    My last job was left very unceremoniously after a steady decline in my ability to be in a conference room with anyone I worked with/for and not visibly roll my eyes and twitch my neck and make stabbing gestures with my pen. But, right when I was let go, I was also pregnant, haha, so I showed them. I, too, wish I’d been brave enough to step out waaayyyy before it got pen stabby.

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  7. sarah on January 30th, 2014 8:18 am

    I’m at a crossroads in my career right now. Thanks for this. Its great to hear the “better on the other side” stories.

  8. agirlandaboy on January 30th, 2014 1:28 pm

    I’m such the perfect candidate for freelancing from home (subtext: people exhaust me!), but I’m just now, fourish years later, starting to feel that unshakeable work-at-home loneliness. When I think about it too much, it quickly turns into despair (in part because I’m not the type of person who can fix the situation by simply working out of a coffeeshop amongst strangers), and it’s been surprising to realize that here I am, working my dream job and in my dream situation yet…it’s not completely perfect. A good reminder that nothing ever is, eh?

  9. Emily on January 31st, 2014 10:04 am

    So glad I read this. A bit of a kick in the pants. I’ve lost respect for my company’s owners and it’s apparent the CEO does not respect or appreciate his employees. I’ve recognized this for over a year and while many other’s have left, I’ve become lazy, snarky, and bitter. Not exactly making myself proud! Thanks for the perspective, it’s much appreciated.

  10. Courtney on January 31st, 2014 9:26 pm

    I was thinking about you today (that sounds creepy– it’s not!). I remember you once posting about how you’d cleaned out your office at Workplace. Cleared out the accumulated detritus of conference name badges, whoziwhatsits and post its. And that it felt like a fresh start when you did it, but it actually marked the turning point towards your exit.

    I was cleaning up my office today, thinking about how much I need a fresh start. Glad to hear that it is still possible!

  11. Mary on February 3rd, 2014 11:37 am

    Having also jumped ship to take writing on my own, I agree with the high-risk/high-return sentiment. It was the best move I’ve ever made.

    And I have to say, I’d never heard of The Prowl until now and I think I’m in love. I’m DIY-ing the hell out of my 1990’s house against my will. (I’d rather pay someone to do it for me. Alas.) It practically takes us a year to change a light bulb and now we’re doing a huge overhaul ourselves to keep it in budget, and I don’t know what I’m doing. My friends will be super glad I have a whole other crowd of prowlers to ask stuff like “Find me a rocker/recliner that isn’t ugly!” and “Should I paint this or trash it? Do I have to stand it first? What should I hang here?” etc.

  12. Also a Linda on February 8th, 2014 9:27 am

    Good Saturday morning! Hope you and the fam are enjoying the snowfall. Just wanted to tell you (and I/m not Twitter-fied) that I caught your Darryl mention in the LA Times Friday February 7th Calendar section – very proud, very proud. It was a ” HEY – I KNOW that girl kinda moment! First time commenter, been following your blog since BR. (Before Riley)
    Keep up the good work,Linda!

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