knee deep.

I was asked today how I would define "success."

Such questions always catch me off guard. I have to remember that success isn't measured in money, but in one's quality of life. "Being able to realize something tangible and meaningful of my own while being able to improve the lives of those dear to me," was the reply I managed in unconfident Spanish.

I just want to feel "stable." Mentally, emotionally and financially balanced.

(Background-o Information-o)

Said goal, namely in the financial sense, is made more difficult by a few key factors:

I refuse to work for anyone. I'm a horrible employee. Not for a lack of responsibility, mind you. Rather, I always see the stupidity in things. I loathe busy work. I often ask, "...but, why?" Workplace politics and coworker fuckery are the devil.

I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad at 20 and The Art of Non-Conformity at 26 and am well-versed in the pitfalls of traditional employment. Keep your 30-minute lunch break and your probation period. I'll set the rules, thanks. Rich Dad taught me that existing in the traditional workplace means you'll never be on top. Your 40 hours of stress, complaining on Facebook, and misery are paying for the big man's vacation, sending his kids to private school, and setting him up quite nicely for retirement. His kids really do thank you for paying for the new Mercedes. Means a lot.

I lack a degree. There, I said it. I graduated high school with a 3.94 cumulative grade point average. In addition to learning about the birds and the bees, I did pretty well at that whole school thing. Bought school clothes and a nifty backpack and loaded up my car to be a big college man at Virginia Commonwealth University. Turning my illustrious work as the editor of the high school paper into a Mass Comm degree. I was supposed to be at the CNN beside my boothang, TJ Holmes by now. It was supposed to be great.

I lasted a semester. Though I did quite well, I bailed on my exams and was back in Hampton focusing on my dance company full time. "School will always be there. My company is growing now," I said. This was all before my 18th birthday. Worth noting: I didn't ask my parents for permission to bow out. I told them. Win.

It paid off, as that life experience of choreographing, dancing, and traveling with my company at 17 and 18 was priceless. By the time my friends graduated, I had already been on my own for a few years, traveled, loved, moved, gained, lost and learned. I had already LIVED.

Returning to my original point, I debate internally over whether I'd be in a different place had I attained a degree. I usually reason that staying in school would have altered the course of everything. May not have moved to NY. May not have fallen deeper in love with dance. May not have been to Los Angeles. Likely wouldn't be in Panama. One can never know. In my heart I know that my life experience is invaluable. I even debated with a friend over whether lacking a degree makes an entrepreneur hungrier, perhaps, to compensate for any supposed competitive disadvantages. Worth noting: I'm happy as fuck, generally.

how I often feel
I am an island. In Panama, I'm working alone. At this point, I have 4 teachers working with/for me. But I need to continue expanding. Meanwhile, I have my own clients. And I still teach cardio classes. And I am doing promotion and PR and caveman-style bookkeeping and writing proposals and designing curriculums and attempting branding and dating (ow ow) and maintaining my locs and fighting off the impending weight gain that awaits me with open arms across the bridge in my thirties.

El problema? I'm a college dropout who never actually learned how to do all of this shit. A good friend to whom I vented says I'm learning firsthand what people go to college to supposedly learn to do. Difference is, I'm knee deep, fucking up and learning as I go. There's my buddy Life Experience again. So valuable, he is. I am still working on the whole "asking for help" thing.

All of this is in Spanish. I'm a writer. I'm used to having power over my words. I'm accustomed to jumping on the back of words, saddling up and riding and twisting them around and making them my bitch. In Spanish? Ha. Although my Spanish has improved EXPONENTIALLY since arriving, fumbling through business calls and solicitations is not exactly good for confidence. Good for practice and experience, yes. Confidence, no. Writing quotes, proposals, presentations, and formal emails using the brand of flowery ass Spanish they use here in business settings is a challenge to say the least. With my daily communication, I know that I need not reinvent the wheel. I find models and attempt to improve upon and personalize them. Still, it's quite humbling.

I'm a creative, newly scatterbrained person...dressing in drag as a linear thinker. All this time, I thought I was a logical, non scatterbrained, sane person. Now? (chuckle) Organizing thoughts and reigning in ideas is now impossible.

I now present:
Some Days by Alex H.
Wake up. Coffee. Jack off. Pushups. Text the boy.
I sit down. Eat.
I make a list.
I start a task.
I open a new window to research something.
Now I'm looking at porn.
Now I'm watching cat videos.
I return to a different task. Looks promising. Off I go...
Make some calls. Emails. Translation site. Emails. Tinker with a document.
I get a string of really great ideas. Oh, you should see them. I write them in my legal pad.
I turn the page. They're gone.
I start an awesome blog and get distra--
I pull out a sword and fight off a panic attack.
Now I'm looking for an ebook to teach me something.
...while watching porn. I look up....
And now it's tomorrow and my mansion hasn't materialized. Fuck.

Compartmentalization is the bullfighter and I am the flustered bull.

How my mind works:

I'm attempting to corral the productivity-zapping voices. Yes, I write to-do lists. I mark things off. But my mind doesn't work this way. I don't have my system down to the point where things are automated. So, I do a lot of repeating.

And I'm now recognizing the familiar grips of Analysis Paralysis. This means over thinking something to the point of inactivity. Common for a perfectionist. I see it above all in this proposal/business presentation I'm crafting to send to businesses to be able to offer English classes. I've been engulfed in it for weeks. I'm obsessed. And terrified. I tinker with it daily. I find some great key phrase to add in and go back to restructure it and soothe the manic thoughts with an impromptu jack off and consider trashing it and then appreciate my work and then save and close it and never really "finish" it. It's never done. I'm anxious about any perceived lack if respectability or professionalism. Did I mention it's in Spanish?

Cue silent screams.

Add to the pot:
I'm Black. I see zero of US in corporate settings here. Beyond the receptionist, we are not visibly present. More on this later.
I have locs. In general, people think "Rasta ---thug---no job---he's clearly on a killing spree." In a professional setting, this doesn't exist here.
I've...never done this before. This, meaning following throw on this type of idea.
Attempting to match the big boys on a shooooeeeestriiing budget. Image is key here, so I'm trying to blend in without the help of a cute Colombian receptionist to answer the phone and send emails on my behalf. I have, to my credit, become quite resourceful.

I'm patient. I know that reaching the level of my peers here won't happen overnight. I get it. To my credit, I am learning to manage stress and fight off anxiety attacks/panic attacks, a big problem of mine. I respect and appreciate the process and am learning to play the game, shake hands, pass out my card, make smalltalk, and flash my dick all in the name of opening doors and prospering.

Having said all this, I'd do this three times before I punch a clock and adhere to someone else's schedule and framework. Folks back home think I'm "doing it" (perhaps having white people work for you is a good measure of success), though I'm hesitant to congratulate myself just yet. Much work and reprogramming to be done.

Patience. (and porn)

How do YOU define success??

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  1. LOL at your gifs. Not only do I feel and think like that, I physically look like that in moments of frustration. Our situations are a bit different, but I struggle with the same things and only a PT expat (if I can call myself that).

    For the last 2 years I've been banging my head against the wall about how to take all of this stuff that I do to the next level so I'm no longer dependent on my full time corporate gig...

    What I'm doing that helps:
    Using evernote for ideas. You can use it on your desktop and phone and it sync. I'm trying to work on one or 2 projects at a time while building and prioritizing my what's next list on evernote.

    Only set one work goal for the day. I may get more done or start 15 other things, but that one thing (blog post, 10 pages of the ebook, proposal, whatever) will get done.

    For branding, check out There is a free 5 day exercise that I think would be helpful and also

    Maybe find an accountability partner to help on a daily/weekly/or however often you need it basis check you if you aren't getting ish done.

    Screw a college degree. I have 2 and struggling with the same stuff and have tons of work colleagues who couldn't do 2% of what you do or have to deal with.

    Clear your space. Maybe this is silly, but when I clean/clear my space, my head is a bit more clear and I get stuff done.

    Success -- accomplishing a goal that I've set. Even if that goal is only just to try...

    Best of luck!


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