Each year we hosted the Over The Moon Ball, a night filled with fancy dresses and fine champagne. We got our tarot cards read and watched burlesque dancers dance. We were inspired by speakers who shared their lives with us, and we toasted them in our sequins.
But in 2016, I closed the magazine, and the ball for good. What I learned can be best summarized by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic:
I’ve always felt like this is so cruel to your work—to demand a regular paycheck from it… There is no dishonor in having a job. What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.
Before I started Over The Moon Magazine, I worked as a marketing executive in the tech industry. And though I truly loved my time there, I spent most of it completely consumed by the notion that I should be “following my passion.” And that that passion should be making me a living.
For 18 months, I even quit my job in tech in pursuit of that passion. I worked full-time for my magazine and put all my time, money, and energy into it; but in the end it wasn’t enough. We were never profitable, and by the end I was paying money out of my own pocket just to keep it afloat.
Overtime, the burden of “trying to make money” completely negated the passion I once felt for it. Every decision I made wasn’t because I wanted to do so, or felt impassioned by it. It was because I needed to make money. I was broke, and I was putting a lot of unnecessary strain on my husband who had taken on the role of breadwinner while I experimented with entrepreneurship.
And so I made the hard, but necessary, decision to shut down the magazine. Over the past several months I have closed the magazine indefinitely and returned to work as a marketing executive in the tech industry. And it has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I now have the time and the money to do the things I love, with none of the burden of owning a business.
Because of this gift, I was able to afford to spend a month traveling in France with four of my best girlfriends. I signed up for season tickets at the theater, bought a six-month pilates package, and even treated myself to a beautiful Kate Spade bag. Luxuries that had all been previously put on hold in pursuit of “financial freedom.”
But more than merely easing the financial burden, the time away allowed me to ask the question, “What would I do if it didn’t have to make money?”
And the answer was “have a hobby instead.” I didn’t want to own a magazine. Part of me wonders if I ever really did. I wanted to write, and direct art projects, and throw fancy parties. But just for fun. Just for me. Not because I needed to make money, or to be an entrepreneur. But because I wanted to.
And so, though I have closed Over The Moon Magazine indefinitely, I now have a blog instead. With no business or agenda. Simply because I love to write. And I can afford to do this, because I have a day job supporting me. My blog is not my business. It is my side-project. Something I am doing just because I want to. And it’s better that way, I think.
Looking back now I can see that this was a necessary part of my journey. Five years ago, I’d sat at my marketing job and asked myself, “Is this really what I’m passionate about? Am I really passionate about marketing? Am I really passionate about technology?” And those quiet “no’s” led to years of discontent.
I told myself I had to be “pursuing my passion” and this wasn’t it. I had to quit my job and become a business owner. I had to make passive income so I could travel the world. And my husband had to support me while I did so.
But I’ve since learned something about passion. And that’s that I no longer want to chase it. Passion changes. It’s fleeting. And I’m convinced that if we follow it, we’ll never catch it. So I’ve decided to pursue curiosity instead. As Elizabeth Gilbert once again surmises in Big Magic:
“The stakes of curiosity are far lower then the stakes of passion. Passion makes you get divorced and sell all your possessions and shave your head and move to Nepal. Curiosity doesn’t ask nearly so much of you. In fact, curiosity only ever asks one simple question: “Is there anything you’re interested in?”
Today I am once again working in technology, and I once again have my passions on the side. But this time I am content with it. I even love it! And it allows me to pursue the curiosities and hobbies that have made my life richer and far more enjoyable as a result.