I am currently enrolled in Elite Blog Academy. From their own website, Elite Blog Academy (EBA, for short) is, “a 12-unit training program that offers a methodical, step-by-step framework to bloggers and communicators who want to turn their blog into a sustainable business.” The course is self-paced, “and consists of easy-to-follow videos, unit outlines, insightful handouts, and purposeful assignments.”

I am only on the second unit, but already I can tell it was worth the money. Unfortunately, they only allow enrollment about once a year, and the window for this year just closed. That is actually one of the reasons I decided to go for it this year, even though I am basically a brand-new blogger – I didn’t want to wait a whole year to start getting better. I’m kind of impatient like that.

One of the exercises that EBA has us to do is write a blog post about a recent failure we experienced, but with a positive twist, ending with a lesson (or lessons) that we learned from the experience. So, I was sitting at my desk thinking about my what my most recent failure would be. And I was thinking, and thinking, and I honestly kept coming up empty. That is when I realized that I don’t take very many risks. I always play it safe. I’ve certainly never put all of my eggs in my own basket, let alone had it not work out.

That realization makes me kind of sad. I’ve never really taken a chance on me, made a risky business decision, or tried to make a living at something and failed. I did fail at touching my toes the other day, but I don’t think that is the kind of thing EBA is looking for. I can tell you the lesson I learned from that though – I should exercise more, and eat Girl Scout cookies less. [SPOILER ALERT: Not gonna happen.]

Maybe EBA and blogging will be my first big failure. I mean, I hope not. But I’m glad that I’ve finally taken a leap and invested in something I am passionate about, and that I hope can have a future. And failure absolutely builds character, so at least there is that. Fun story: when I was in high school and it was time to apply for colleges, my parents told me I could choose three schools. We lived in California, and lived paycheck-to-paycheck, so shelling out more than three $75 application fees was not going to happen. I quickly and easily chose University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California, University of California, Davis (UC Davis) for the first two. Then, I told my dad I’d like to apply to Stanford University for my final pick. He was kind of quiet for a second, then laughed, and said, “I hate to burst your bubble, but you aren’t going to get in to Stanford. Pick somewhere else.”

Now, at the time…that seemed kind of harsh, I think I might have even cried a little, but it taught me a very important lesson in expectation management. I’m really very grateful that they didn’t let me pick Stanford as my final choice. I wound up not getting accepted to UCLA or UC Davis, but I did get accepted to my substitute third pick – University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I graduated 4th in my class in high school, but because my graduating class was only 95 students…that didn’t mean anything to UCLA or UC Davis, and it certainly wouldn’t have been impressive to Stanford. Especially not when you add in that I was a middle-class white girl whose parents were teachers…talk about average. *angsty eyeroll*

If my parents had let me apply to Stanford, I would have been very heartily crushed when I didn’t get accepted. Heck, I had thought for sure that I would get in to UCLA and UC Davis! Luckily, I got a wake-up call, and lowered my expectations. Then, when I got the acceptance letter from UCSD, I was thrilled!! I even had a good friend who was accepted there as well and – to quote Chandler, “All the pieces of my life [were] falling right into place! (The episode where Chandler is secretly in love with Joey’s girlfriend, Kathy, and Joey sets Chandler up with someone else, so they can all double date.)

I’m now realizing that my approach to life since then has been to keep my expectations low. When you keep your expectations low, you always have the opportunity to be brilliantly surprised by a positive outcome, instead of completely crushed by a negative one. I much prefer pleasant surprises to…unpleasant ones, although honestly, surprises really aren’t my jam at all. Unfortunately, I think I unknowingly let that mindset roll over into my actions, as well. Why take a chance at something where you could fail, when you could not, and…not?

This is my attempt to undo all those years of low-expectation living! That’s not to say I’m not still keeping my expectations about my potential blogging success low – I am. But I’m going to give it my all anyway! No more shall I play it safe! I’m going to throw every last piece of me into this blog, and making it successful, and if it doesn’t work out no one will be able to say I didn’t try. I’ll go out swinging! (I’ve just checked, and apparently the expression is ‘come out swinging’, but that doesn’t really work for the image I’m trying to conjure, so…just…let me have this one.) I’ll take them aaaaaaaaall down with me!!!! Wait. No, that’s a different kind of ending. I’ll…leave the pie eating contest with pie in my hair. I’ll crawl across the finish line if I have to. And if I fail at blogging in spite of all my efforts, then I’ll learn from that too.

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Author: Jess Leonard

It's me, Jess! Seen here with Husband, and one of our pooches, Ainsley. I'm 27-years-old, beyond ready for babies, and super broke. Join me on this insane journey of figuring out how to live the lives we want as baby crazy, but heavily indebted millennials. Fun facts about me: I grew up in Southern California, near Coachella, I looooove jamming on my planner (I use a MAMBI Happy Planner), and my spirit animal is Leslie Knope.

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