I sucked at side hustling when I started. For those of you new to the term, side hustles are the jobs you work on the side of your full-time job. And apparently millennials are obsessed with them.
In keeping with that stereotype, I became slightly obsessed with my side hustle — teaching yoga — last May after becoming a certified yoga instructor. I was (and still am) a full-time-writer-slash-editor for CharlotteFive, and was grossly overeager to prove myself in my newfound role in the yoga community while maintaining my 50-plus-hour work week.
I spent the summer teaching private lessons, teaching in public spaces, teaching through a mandatory mentorship program at Y2 Yoga, substituting classes, writing and freelance writing, editing, stressing out and ruining a relationship in the middle of it all.
Fast forward to now. Nearly nine months later, I finally feel like I’m not making a complete mess of this lifestyle I’ve chosen, and that I’m closer to doing my best at the job I started with, the side hustle I lopped on top of it and the relationship I want so badly to work.
First I had to learn what to drop. I had to rework what has been described to me as my unrealistic “happiness equation,” this daily checklist I feel I have to complete in order to — wait for it — feel happy. For a while, that equation looked something like: Write + edit + run four miles + do something social + teach yoga + practice yoga + blog + take time for myself = One day o’ happiness.
We are only given 24 hours in one day and I couldn’t fit everything in. I was constantly darting from one thing to the next and not enjoying any of it to the fullest — and I had a meltdown.
I dropped some expectations. Now, I practice yoga every day, run and blog when I can — it helps being able to treat my bike ride or walk to work as a workout — and I don’t often teach more than three classes a week.
I don’t mean for my side hustle to get into the way of my life, only to enhance it. Teaching gives me a platform to share what I love about yoga often and out loud, and to connect with so many people through that.
Note to self: My day job comes first. I teach permanent yoga classes two nights a week and one afternoon a week, and I sub classes for other teachers mornings, nights and weekends when I can. I say “no” to the rest.
I spend as many hours at the office as possible, as part of my team, during regular work hours, and I usually work through lunch.
To create more space for it all, I drag my carcass out of bed by 6 a.m. If I’m teaching a class at 6 a.m., that’s fabulous. If I’m pounding coffee and tackling work at 6 a.m. so I can teach a class at 8:30 p.m., that’s also fabulous. As I’ve been told, we’re in the age of the work-life blend, not the work-life balance.
But just because I’m jamming all of this into my little paper day planner doesn’t mean I’m juggling all of this alone, and I don’t need to. My side hustle isn’t my secret and I’m doing my best to communicate expectations.
My boss and coworkers know about the two week-day evenings I teach, and I set clear deadlines each day for when my content is coming in. I catch up with friends when our stars align for a meal or coffee. My boyfriend and I set our evening schedules together and have a fixed, weekly date night. If I’m having a meltdown, I tell him I’m having a meltdown, and we move through it. And I breathe.
And at the end of the day, I remember why I’m side hustling in the first place. I’m not trying to be a full-time yoga teacher. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m teaching because it’s one more thing that makes me happy. I’m teaching because it gives me a chance to touch people in ways that I haven’t touched people through my writing. I’m teaching because it gives me space to surprise myself.
It’s still not a perfect blend. And it won’t be, because that’s not how life works. But as long as I’m happy, I’ll keep side-hustling.