This is a guest submission by Dusti from

My name is Dusti. I am 23 years old, and I have had 36 jobs.

That is not a typo. I feel it’s an important detail to share because I don’t have the standard “I left my awful job in a cubicle to go be amazing” story most people who leave the office to start a business do.

Oh no. I never even made it to the cubicle.

Having left home at 16 and not graduated high school, the cubicle was a long way off for a girl like me. Even though I didn’t graduate, I left high school with 48 college credits, thanks to working my ass off for AP credit. I started working at 12 with the standard gigs, but my foray into the American work force began when I was 16, working at a Little Caesar’s.

To reiterate my unconventional way of doing things, you should probably know I started college when I was 20, in the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy – and I was due on finals week. (Thank God babies are never on time.)

So my daughter entered the world to a college student who was entirely unsure of where she would be in five years. Great. However, it turned out to be a blessing because I could stay at home and take online classes and take care of her.

I blasted through college at a breakneck speed. Piling on max credits every term, my college education edged closer to completion, and I found myself constantly worrying what I’d do when the “free money” ran out and I had to decide what to do with my life and whatever degree I ended up with.

I never stayed long at a job, but I had every intention of finishing my degree. What else could I do? I figured it would help me get a better job and make more money, and that was the goal, right? I wasn’t sure what was next for me. It had never occurred to me to just follow my heart and do something I loved.

101 in 1001

In 2010, I started a 101 (goals) in 1001 (days) list. The idea was to try 101 new things in an amount of time that made you realize how much you had really accomplished. Being the lover of lists I am, one of my goals was to try using a productivity system.

Lo and behold, David Allen’s Getting Things Done came into my life. It had some really good ideas, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Since I now knew some of the jargon associated with “productivity systems,” I started looking again. That was when I found Zen To Done and Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits.

That was a game changer for me. I had never read blogs before. I didn’t even really know what they were, and within a matter of weeks, I was in love. After reading a particularly stirring RowdyKittens post, I found myself starting a free blog of my own.

There wasn’t any real purpose for it other than I wanted to share my thoughts in a public space, and I honestly hoped I could make someone’s life a little bit better the way all of those other writers had mine.

Being the fast learner I am, I started learning more of the ins and outs. What a niche was. How to write a good headline. I started meeting people online for the first time outside of a video game. I pitched my first guest post to my favorite blogger and nailed it. I found I wrote well, and I loved it.

The icing on the cake was when I figured out how to make money doing it.

Enter The Entrepreneur

Somewhere in my far off dreams, I had wanted to start a business. Maybe my own coffee shop. It had never been a serious thought.

However, now that I had gotten a taste of it, I was determined to make money using my blog.

I kept up the affiliate sales, kept writing great content, networked like crazy, and I wrote and self-published my first book in December 2010. By the end of December, I was already asking my mentor, Tammy, what she thought I should do with my future. The most fervent question on my mind was:

Should I keep going to college?

There were only 43 credits standing between me and my degree. But, I knew my job was going to involve making money on the Internet, so the degree wasn’t going to do much for me except buy me time to build up the business. At this point, I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to do it, but the book had been a great experiment. I had a solid launch, and it appeared sales were going to stay pretty consistent.

I was torn. (Cue Natalie Imbruglia)

Something’s Gotta Give

I kept at it, blogging by dawn, parenting till the afternoon, going to school, and attempting to keep all of the balls in the air. That didn’t happen. My grades tanked, I resented school, and my personal life was suffering. It was obvious something had to give.

By the time the middle of March rolled around, I was fed up. Finals had gone okay, but it wasn’t anything to call home about. Things were floating along in the dysfunctional rhythm that had become my life, and all signs pointed straight towards praying for an omen. And I did.

And it came.

The sign came when I woke up to my bright and shiny inbox and was busy working my way through it. There was an email from someone who I didn’t recognize. What the email said was almost too good to be true.

“I have this eBook idea. How much would you charge to ghostwrite it for me? I just assumed you’re a professional writer.”

*flips hair*

Well, of course, I’m a professional writer, darling.

That was how I got my first client in March – and worked my ass off over spring break to write a massive book on a topic I knew almost nothing about.

Because I’m over analytical, I decided to give college one last shot by attending my first day of classes, even though I could pay my rent three months out for the first time, oh, ever. So I showed up to my first day of class.

Good god.

My yoga class was awful. The teacher just oozed “I’m so New Age and enlightened that the planet has started to revolve around my massive, unfounded egotistical head.” Not my style.

Then came my writing class. It was upper division, and I figured more practice would refine my craft further and I had a lot to gain. But, I wasn’t sure it was quite the right group. So, I showed up 15 minutes early to talk to some of the students. There was this real sweet blonde who I started chatting with.Β  asked her the usual things.

What’s your major? What are you going to do with it?

“Oh, I’m an English major. I don’t really know what I’m doing with it. I love creative writing, and I want to write a novel, but I’ll probably just get some job after college. What do you do?”

… I decided I was in a very different life place than my new friend. And it was time to move on.

Taking The Plunge

It was like everything in the Universe was united in telling me, “Dusti, you found your calling. Just do it.”

Never did I dream I could live a life of purpose and passion. That I could be a leader by allowing myself to. My life isn’t perfect or struggle free, but it belongs to me now. Every hour of everyday belongs to me and no one else. I own every second, action, and choice. And I will never give that away again.

It’s a big responsibility taking control of your life. Is it one you think you can handle?

Better yet, is it one you can afford not to?

Dusti Arab is a writer and branding consultant. You can find her at Undefinable You. She is the author of The Minimalist Mom and The Digital Dominatrix.

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