Calling courageous post-collegiates! Our interview series is back with a vengeance as a semi-regular blog feature! Want to nominate a courageous post-collegiate to be featured (including yourself)? Email postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dotcom].
There are some post-collegiates who graduate and then take some time to relax, unwind from the stress of school, and catch up on their Netflix queue. And then there are post-collegiates like Emelina Minero, who dive right into pursuing a 21st century career of freelancing, brand-development, and resource building that embodies the spirit of the Millennial generation – tech-savvy, independent, and eager to work for the advancement of others. It was my pleasure to sit down with Emelina and learn more about how productive she has been since college, in some very un-traditional ways.
Tell me a little about yourself – who is Emelina? How did she get where she is now?
I am a 24-year-old lesbian feminist and a realist optimist who is passionate about people, women’s education, equality and respect for gender and sexual minorities, self-love, body positivity and changing the world through building community, global citizenry and uniting people through their passions. Being in the closet for 14+ years was a 14+ year journey of finding my voice and accepting my sexuality and myself. Without a voice, I was a great observer and I realized the importance of being listened to, of being accepted, of being supported and the importance of feeling like you belong to a community. This is one reason why I am so passionate about building communities, supporting people to love themselves and giving people a platform to voice their passions.
Growing up, I was surrounded by strong, independent women within the eating disorder recovery community. That helped me to embrace a body positive, self-loving culture and it showed me the importance and the power of a strong collaborative group of women. Attending Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and seeing the problems of a patriarchy heightened during the co-ed transition made me realize the importance of women’s education and the necessity to help bridge the gender gap.
Working for Curve Magazine, the leading lesbian magazine in the nation, has strengthened my roots within the LGBTQ community and has also highlighted my awareness of the bigotry within the LGBTQ community, which I want to help alleviate.
That’s a pretty impressive back-story. You’re a fairly recent college graduate – what was your initial plan when you graduated?
I was going to be a news reporter. I loved running The Sundial, the college newspaper and I was dead set on reporting on gay news for the San Francisco Chronicle, that or writing for Curve Magazine. My “dream job” was starting the first LGBTQ national newspaper. As soon as I graduated, I didn’t want anything to do with newspapers and I didn’t want to be employed by someone else. I wanted to run my own business, to travel and to have my life run by my passions: exploring, helping others and living outside of my comfort zone.
Ironically, now I’m writing for Curve Magazine, as well as online LGBT news and entertainment site, EDGE Boston. And I’m developing my own online LGBTQ publication, The Queer Spectrum, which will highlight and celebrate the diversity within the subcultures of the queer spectrum. But I’m not only doing this. I’m giving myself the best of both worlds, writing for LGBTQ publications and creating my own life outside of the 9 to 5 arena.
You’re really juggling a lot of different projects and passions. What challenges are you facing that were unexpected? How are you redefining your expectations of life in the post-college world?
I thought “the real world” would be a lot harder or boring, but it has been amazing and a lot of fun and nothing like I thought it would be. This doesn’t mean that it’s not challenging. It’s not all sugar plum fairies and chocolate cake. Financially I’m not doing great, but that was expected. Social life is off and on. It’s really what I make it. When I get on work-kicks, my social life suffers. When I make balance my focus, my social life thrives.
I didn’t expect how easy post-grad life can be — and it all depends on your mentality, how you view life and how you view what’s possible. The biggest thing that I have learned is that I am the only person who can hinder me from what I want in life and I am the only person who can attain what I want in life. You will be your worst enemy and your biggest supporter. And balance is key to bringing out the supporter within you. I believe that self-love is the strongest foundation for personal growth, personal strength and leading a balanced life. If you love yourself, everything else falls into place. If you act and think from a place of self-love, it makes life easier.
You seem to be making the most of the “Gig Economy” and focusing on freelancing as opposed to a steady 9-to-5. What are the pros and cons to pursuing this type of career path?
There are a lot of pros and cons, and for me the pros outweigh the cons. One, stability is not something that comes naturally with this lifestyle. You have to work hard to achieve stability, and not just financial stability. Choosing this lifestyle can be an emotional roller coaster. You don’t have a boss telling you that every Monday through Friday you’ll be working X set schedule, at X place, at X time, doing A, B and C activities with X responsibilities. You don’t always know what you’re going to do. You don’t always know the next step. Stability is something that you have to create for yourself. Someone else isn’t going to serve it to you on a platter. This lifestyle isn’t for every one. It pushes you to live outside of your comfort zone, which I like.
There are SO MANY pros. Last March I bought a one-way ticket to Virginia and I traveled along the East Coast for 2 months, hitting 7 different states and 13+ cities. I was able to support myself through my freelance work. I worked at cafes and at friends’ houses who had wi-fi. I traveled via bus, train and car. I had no set schedule. At points it did get emotionally exhausting, moving from one place to another so quickly. But overall I had a blast and I was able to do this because of the freelance path I had chosen.
Choosing a freelance career, it’s a lot of work. Sometimes I work 16 hour days, and at first, you won’t bring in a lot of money, for awhile you won’t, unless you make yourself focus on only one thing. Sometimes you’ll have money pouring in, and then you’ll go through dry spells of nothing, so you have to plan and save and budget. The key to success is consistency, not giving up, taking action, moving forward and only focusing on one thing, on one project, on one idea. The last part is where I am not succeeding. I focus on too many things. I overextend myself and my projects are moving along fine, but slower than they would be if I was only focusing on one thing at a time.
Balance in all aspects of life is key to your success. I have gone through periods where I have been so passionate and excited about what I’m doing that I wasn’t able to sleep. I was literally sleeping 2 to 4 hours a night and working the rest, and I had to work until literal exhaustion because I was too excited to not be working. Other times, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting and I get depressed from the cycles of imbalance that I create for myself. Work/life balance is a fine line and it’s very important to maintain balance in your life if you want happiness and if you want to succeed in your goals.
It’s amazing how much travel you’ve been able to do since graduation. Any tips for 20-somethings looking to travel on a budget?
If you’re traveling, you either have to have money saved up and set aside or you have to have money coming in consistently. If you don’t have money set aside, and you are freelancing, make sure you have a set number of consistent clients before you set out to travel. And create a consistent payment schedule, so every Thursday so and so will pay you by this time. That way you will know for certain that on X days X amount of money is coming in.
I had people pay me via Pay Pal. It’s all done online and they can be across the country or in another continent making payments to you. There is a small fee taken out of the payment when you receive money via PayPal. I had the money transferred to my checking account from PayPal and that can take up to a few days, so you have to take that into account.
I also kept a journal of my money. How much I was bringing in & how much I was spending. Save the receipts and write down everything you spend. Also mark it on the receipt if it’s for business. If you’re traveling and are a freelancer, a lot of things can be business, a.k.a. — a lot of your purchases can be written off.
Greyhound and buses are cheap, especially on the East Coast. Look up Peter Pan and China buses. Mega bus is also good and it comes with wifi. I remember my average bus ticket was around $18 and that was from DC to NYC, really from any big city to another big city. There were some $5 steals and the most I paid was around $30. If you need to get to smaller cities, it can cost more and you may have to use greyhound or a train, but still transportation cost isn’t that bad. Traveling globally & nationally, I’ve found some really nice deals if you stay at hostels. Also give Cough Surfing a go.
When it comes to traveling, networking can be amazing. Tapping into your network can lead to free or cheap rides, places to stay, tours, meals, etc. If you know no one, explore, go out on your own to bars, clubs, whatever and meet new people and make friends who can show you around.
There’s a lot you can do without money, or with little money. Look up free museums, cool parks and clubs without covers. If you want to drink, pre-drink before you go out so it will be loads cheaper. Don’t go out to eat a lot, or you can go out by yourself, but eat a snack before hand so you won’t order a big expensive meal. Or go out to eat with others, but if you eat before hand, you don’t have to spend anything. Buy food at grocery stores.
I am so impressed with the work you have created online. Can you tell us more about Community Bucket List and Love Warrior Community? What can these sites offer postcollegiates?
They’re my passions. They’re my babies and my loves. Through these communities and through the people who get involved in them, I see us changing the world. We’re going to contribute to a global movement of self-love, self-acceptance, global citizenry and passion.
The Love Warrior Community I created with my mom. My mom, Michelle Minero, is a Bay Area therapist who specializes in helping people recover from eating disorders. She founded EDRS (Eating Disorders Recovery Support, Inc.), which I’m currently interning for. You should check it out soon for some cool updates.
The Love Warrior Community uses creative expression to help people build self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance. Through art, photography, writing, videos and music, people can develop their own self-love practice. As a post grad, cultivating an active self-love practice has been my biggest tool for success in all my projects, because self-love is about cultivating balance and when you’re living a balanced life, everything is simplified, is clear and flows smoother.
Community Bucket List enables people to achieve their goals and live their passions. If more people are living and realizing their passions, then they’re contributing those passions to the world and are contributing their positive energy to the world. I want CBL to evolve into this global community where people come together united by their common passions and work together in achieving their goals.
One of the main tools we use is an action-oriented bucket list, which helps an individual focus on one to 3 things they want to work on achieving now. The action-oriented bucket list helps them focus on one or a few specific goals by asking them to write out what their motivation is for working on X now, what is the 1st step they will take to achieve X goal, what is a brief outline of the actions they will take to achieve X goal and what help or support do they want from the CBL community.
CBL offers other online resources, articles on goal setting, on discovering your passions, a Facebook group for people to share their successes and journey and an online mastermind group for those who have submitted action-oriented bucket lists who want more support and help with achieving their goals.
CBL is perfect for post grads because initially, I created it for myself. A year out of college, I needed more focus in my life. So I structured CBL to give me the structure, focus and support that I needed.
Even though it’s only been a couple years, if you could go back to graduation day and give yourself advice, what would you say?
Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t tell yourself that you can’t do something. Don’t discredit yourself. Don’t think less of yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy life, explore it. Try all options that appeal to you and don’t be afraid to drop them in an instant if you no longer want them in your life. Don’t be afraid to say no to others. Say yes to new opportunities. Live outside of your comfort zone. At first, it will be uncomfortable, but soon you’ll get used to it and you’re comfort zone will have expanded to take in a lot more.
Surround yourself with a supportive network of people. Put time into strengthening your friendships. Make time for yourself. Make time for everything that you need to be in balance.
Develop a conscious and active self-love practice, as soon as possible. The most effective thing for me is self-love writing, writing daily or almost daily, reflecting on my self-love journey.
I share my writing with the Love Warrior Community’s group blog. You don’t have to share your writing publicly, you can write in a personal journal. Self-love writing could entail writing with the prompt, What Would Love Do? in mind. It could be writing yourself a love letter. It could be reflecting on something you’re struggling with and writing out how to work through it and coming up with actions you can take to get past it. Writing with self-love in mind helps make you more conscious about it throughout your day. It helps you guide your daily thoughts and action with self-love. It helps you focus on what you need to live a balanced, healthy and happy life.
Your mindset is your strongest tool for success and happiness. Train your mind to be happy, positive and motivated. For me that means balance and balance means self-love.
Many, many thanks to Emelina for agreeing to be featured and sharing all her work with you. Please peruse the links throughout the article for more information on her work and follow her on Twitter. As always, you can leave questions for Emelina in the comments section as well!