No. 95

Going Rogue: Generosity


On Tuesday, at 3:12am, I had my first-ever panic attack. As far as panic attacks go, I’m sure it was mild one: I just suddenly woke from my slumber with an overwhelming feeling of dread.

It was the “Oh my golly, what are you doing? You have bills to pay and stuff to buy” sort of dread, as if quitting my job meant I would be destitute.

Actually, this panic attack was panic from last Tuesday amplified. And it all centered around finances.

A word of advice: if you want to break out of the 9-to-5 cubicle, I recommend you sort out of your finances before you do. You don’t need a brilliant plan, but you do need a game plan. Debt shouldn’t hold you back from chasing your dreams, but knowing what you’ll need to pay when…that helps.

I will admit I’d been a bit lax about that. I’d fallen so in love with the idea of being a freelancer that I’d forgotten some practical steps I needed to take. Like doing my 2012 taxes to make sure I didn’t owe anything (boy do I ever). And knowing what expenses I have coming up. I’ve been berating myself with the “How could I have been so foolish?” soundtrack.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been living in this place of lack. It’s not a fun place to be. So I decided to get out. And putting myself back into the place of abundance means being generous.  My decision to go rogue may mean I’m in debt a bit longer than I’d like to be, but I will not allow it to influence my generosity along the way.

I love helping people. With advice. With money. With time. With presence.

So I did something most people don’t do when they find out they’re in debt — I gave money away. I went on and loaned $25 to Anar, a woman in Kyrgyzstan, to help her start her business. I’ve decided that as a creative entrepreneur, I want to support other entrepreneurs out there, especially women. We will all have our different struggles getting started, we will all encounter barriers while chasing dreams, but I won’t let my struggles or barriers change who I am or how I want to feel. That $25 isn’t much for me, but it’s a beginning for her — and it’s evidence that I can give no matter what my situation.

I’m now drafting a list of ways to keep the generosity flowing in my life. Here’s its beginning:

  • Loan money to a small business owner on
  • Answer questions for bloggers new to WordPress (I do a lot of that for my coding clients)
  • Volunteer to teach someone a skill
  • Be present for friends when they need to talk
  • Compliment someone unexpectedly
  • Smile and say “good day”
  • Set an extra few dollars aside for people I may encounter on the street
  • Pay for someone’s coffee


How do you practice generosity?

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

8 thoughts on “Going Rogue: Generosity

  1. Oh my goodness, Brandi. You and I both. I’m trying so hard not to think so negatively about my financial issues myself and worry about if my freelance will get me through it all.

    Response to your reply: I stopped blogging because I ended up picking up 2 jobs at the same time during my last quarter of undergrad. It was the worst possible decision I had ever made because I was in the middle of doing portfolio reviews and sewing/completing my senior thesis. Now that school is over, I’m trying to figure myself out and what it is that I really want to do. I got accepted to grad school in San Francisco, but because of family problems I will be taking my entire degree online and residing with my parents in SoCal. With that, I’ve been worrying about paying back student loans. I considered applying into the fashion industry, but almost all of them are located in Los Angeles (dreading the commute/traffic) and are all full-time. Full-time job + online classes for grad school = awful. I don’t think I can do both.

    So now I’m at home planning my next few months of freelance work: providing graphics for apparel, blogging on three blogs (fashion blog is still on hiatus, now blogging over at penandthinker, and on Tumblr), and possibly doing something home-decor like. Ideally my dream job is to travel the world and design/provide basic clothing (your every day t-shirt, shorts, pants, etc.) to those living in countries that cannot afford clothes. It’s sort of like Toms minus the fact that you don’t have to buy something in order for me to give something. I just give. So maybe by freelancing a bit, I could raise enough money to do that later on in life.

    Response to your post: That is amazing. That really is. Thank you for introducing such an amazing website. I will definitely check that out. I’ve been doing the same recently with giving away money. It wasn’t ever something I thought twice about doing despite my own financial burden. Maybe I should make a list myself in hopes that it’ll clear out my own cluttered/chaotic mind.

  2. Your response to panic is a little amazing to me. I’m no stranger to panic attacks and know they’re not pretty (and if you ever want to talk with someone about that experience and working past it, I’m willing to listen and offer what help I can!), so I’m a little bit amazed at the big step you already took in giving to someone else right away.


  3. Oh boy does this hit home! Here’s some advice that I keep going back to:
    I spoke with a career counselor/therapist a year ago about my similar financial concerns, and he kept asking me over and over “what do YOU want to do”. I just couldn’t give him a solid answer, and we both grew more and more animated. Finally I blurted out that it didn’t matter what I wanted to do because I’d never be able to take the risk financially, and it hurt too much to dream about something that could never happen. Whoa. Saying that out loud was an eye opener! He then really pushed me to think about what the risk was with the money. Well, what if I fail? “So?”. So then I couldn’t pay my bills! “So?” So then I’d have to move back home to my parents house?! “So? Would your parents laugh at you? Would they tell you not to come home? Do you have friends and family that would support you, both financially and emotionally if you lost it all?” Yes. “Then what’s the risk?”

    His point was not to just jump blindly without doing as much planning as possible, but to not let money (or actually fear) make my decisions for me. I think that is what impresses me most about your current decision – to take note of your fears and concerns, but not to let them rule you. I bet you’ll have more of these panic moments (and panic attacks are no joke!), but you’re moving forward anyway. It’s really inspiring!

  4. You inspired me to sign up and make a loan to a woman in Cambodia—a country I so recently visited and feel connected to. How cool is that?

  5. Hah – oh boy. I got my biggest tax SHOCK last year when I quit my job and it wasn’t earth shattering but it certainly didn’t make me happy. And although my financial situation was sound, I still didn’t feel like it would be appropriate to take time off to travel for a month in Australia, as I would have liked. I now know that I am a bit more conservative with money that I had originally thought so it’s good that you’re figuring these things out before you actually get into it. My thought process is that most people can’t get by in their lives without getting a job, hence getting a job can’t be that difficult. It’s a very ‘young’ mentality but I always thought I could go make money if I really needed to.

  6. yes, i love that idea. it’s funny when i struggled with money. i gave more than i have ever given. now, i am not so quick{not that i have a lot} to give and feel lack, too{on other area}. something to explore. i like the idea of embodying a trait. for some reason your blog is blocked at work. sad!! anyway, i’ll email you soon about tea!!

  7. I am about a million years behind in reading my favourite blogs, and only just came across this post. And not for the first time or even the 50th time, I am so inspired by your intelligence and generosity and sheer spirit. I wish you were my live-in life mentor Brandi! I know you will be a roaring success in this next venture, in whatever iteration that success takes. I can’t wait to watch it unfold. And I am confident that ONE DAY I will figure out this motherhood / working thing and if you still have the energy to deal with me, we will create something glorious with our little publishing project. Until then, thank you for the sharing and the inspiring.

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