On Changing Dreams

On changing dreams Most of you probably only know me as the gal who cooks all the food on this blog. Maybe you were around when I got married last year. Perhaps you have a hunch that I handle more of our business than just food. Let me sum it up for you as best I can. I am a co-author of A Beautiful Mess. I write a blog that millions of people read. I am a co-owner of a #1 selling app. I am a published author. I am a co-owner of a million dollar business(!!). I can’t word how lucky I feel to get to say this: I am happy. I know this probably sounds like bragging, and it is a little. But what can I say, I’m proud. And I want you to understand something about my life: I am living my dream. 

But this was NOT always the case. I’d like to pretend that this has always been the course of my life. It’s embarrassing sometimes to open up about your past and your failures. But I’m hoping that if I do, maybe someone out there will feel some encouragement, depending upon where you are in life.

On changing dreamsHere’s my story. I went to college mostly because my parents wanted me to. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, so I started off studying photography. I also worked as a wedding photographer. Eventually I realized I didn’t want to do wedding photography forever, so I quit that job and also changed my major. I eventually graduated with a BA in Philosophy. I studied philosophy simply because I loved it, and I had no idea what else to study.

During college I mostly worked for Elsie. Remember how I said I was a wedding photographer? Well, so was she. She had a small business doing wedding photography and portraits, and I mainly worked as her second shooter. Sometimes I did weddings on my own if we booked two on the same day. After that ended, I worked for a little while at a pizza place, and then I worked for Elsie again. She then had a thriving Etsy shop, selling prints and original artwork. I managed her customer service as well as packed and shipped orders. I did this throughout college.

During college I also started performing in plays and taking acting classes (outside of my college classes). I had a few friends who were really involved in local theater, and I enjoyed it too. I really loved doing anything comedic. I made plans with a friend of mine to move after I finished college to pursue acting in Los Angeles. I knew less than five people in LA. But I loved acting.

So we did it. We moved into a TINY studio apartment in Hollywood. I took improv classes at Groundlings. I took commercial acting classes. I worked as an extra (a lot). I got my SAG card. After a while I got a commercial agent. I went to a few auditions (not many). I worked odd jobs. I was very, very poor.

After about three years I was nearly out of money. I was tired of my life in LA. And I was nowhere near becoming an actress of any kind. I wasn’t sure what my next move should be. I was very seriously considering taking out loans and going to law school. I even took my LSAT and started the application process. But I dunno. It didn’t feel right.

On changing dreams During the three years I had been living in Los Angeles, Elsie and I had remained best friends. Her Etsy store had grown into a small, local shop that she supplemented with her blog, but she was having a hard time maintaining everything. She had lots of big ideas but hardly the time to execute everything and still manage all the other parts of a business you don’t see. Most of our phone conversations over those years ended with her trying to convince me to move home and be a part of her business again. It was tempting, but a part of me had wanted to move because I didn’t want to be just “Elsie’s little sister/helper” forever. I wanted to do something on my own. There was a little part of me that always felt like if I worked with Elsie I would forever be the “second shooter,” if you know what I mean.

Out of money and ideas, I finally gave in to her requests and moved home. Elsie was moving her business into a much larger building and expanding into selling vintage. I went from living on my own in Los Angeles and pursuing a career in acting, to living with my parents and helping my sister open her new shop location. Can you even imagine a more cliche situation? I won’t lie—I threw myself some pretty big pity parties those first few months. I cried a lot. I felt really defeated. I felt like I would forever be labeled a failure.

On changing dreams After some time of feeling sorry for myself I finally picked myself up and started to put together the pieces of my life again. I had started a food blog back in Los Angeles, and I decided to keep growing this passion in my life since, well, I could. I blogged more. I cooked more. I started a sweet shop and catering business in conjunction with Elsie’s local shop. I also tried to find how I could be useful within her business. I started getting all of her books and financials in order. I took over managing her blog’s advertising program. I helped run the day-to-day at the local shop. I made myself valuable, and we eventually updated the business and blog into a partnership. And together we thrived. We found ways to expand on our successes and abandon anything that wasn’t working. I had no issues with abandoning things then. 🙂 Our blog readership grew. Our business grew. We started making more money. I was able to save up enough to put a down payment on a house (and move out of my parent’s home). We eventually started hiring more people to work at our company. And last year, 2013, was our first million dollar year. Success is not always measured in dollars made, but we are feeling like our small business has a new momentum to it. And I feel as though I’ve gone from being a failure to being a success story. How did that happen?! Well, I’ve certainly learned a few lessons along the way.

On changing dreams 1. Move with the flow of life, not against it.

Life is absolutely full of opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by simply because they aren’t the opportunities you thought you wanted. We don’t always know what direction our life will go. I think it can be wise to try anything that comes your way, especially when you are young and trying to “figure it all out” (Spoiler: You won’t. Life is never that simple). Don’t set your heart on achieving one thing, only one specific way, in order to feel happy and accomplished. An amazing opportunity disguised as a mundane option may come your way tomorrow; don’t miss it.

2. Be honest about your strengths and expand on them.

I was good at working with my sister. We have always made a good team, because our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. This was hard for me to see when I was younger, because I always felt like her achievements outweighed and looked better than mine. Instead of running away from a good situation, I should have fought to make it a great situation. Sometimes you have to be honest about what you’re good at. (A great place to start if you’re not sure is asking those closest to you.) If you enjoy something but it’s not a strength of yours, it might make a better hobby than career choice. That ended up being the case for me anyway.

3. Dreams don’t have to die, but they do sometimes have to change. Embrace it.

Even before I moved home from LA I felt afraid to do so, even though a part of me really wanted to. I felt that if I turned my back on my dream (to be an actress) then I was a failure. Being a “failure” is just a label that you give yourself. Don’t box yourself in like I did! It’s ok to change your dreams. It’s ok to pursue something else for a while if your current efforts don’t seem to be working. Embrace where your life seems to be headed, and forget the labels. Moving in with my parents after being a failed actress was the most cliche and embarrassing choice I’ve ever made. But it was also the BEST choice I’ve ever made.

4. Success is a process, not an event or state of being.

Being successful in whatever you are pursing in life is never going to magically happen one day and then it’s done. It’s an ongoing thing. You don’t always feel it. It doesn’t look the same in everyone’s life. And another really weird thing about it is you don’t always know it as it’s happening. Like I said, choosing to be a failed actress is what led me to my current dream job. This was a successful move, but it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. I felt anything but successful that year of my life. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not feeling successful this year. Keep going. Work hard. Play to your strengths. Take opportunities as they come. Be brave.

On changing dreams No matter where you are in life, I already know one thing about you: You are not a failure. Even if you’re feeling like one lately, please know I’ve been right there with you. I believe in you. You should believe in yourself.

Thanks for letting me share this (somewhat embarrassing) piece of my life with you. xo. Emma

Credits// Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Sarah Rhodes

  • Thank you for this post. I really really needed to read this today. So glad to know I’m not the only one battling feelings like this – I just haven’t quite turned it around like you have yet!

  • What an amazing post. I really admire your honesty and, as the second sibling, understand where you’re coming from too. Congratulations on your amazing career (and I love your new haircut!) x

  • Emma,

    I have been a big fan of this blog for what feels like forever. I admire you and your sister so much and often envy all of your creative genius. This post is by far my favorite. I am 24 and often feel lost or like I am failing… you are so inspirational! This has truly motivated me to not give up on my dreams! (even if I have a lot of them 😉 ) Thanks for being brave enough to share your story with all of us!



  • Hi Emma,
    I have been reading your blog for a long time but have never commented on anything before. I am very very moved by this article ( myself an actress in NYC ) and I just wanted to say that this is a little piece of wisedom I will cherish for a long time. Thank you. H

  • Things like this make me believe in you and your work even more. Small snippets into someone’s struck always help me paint a better picture of who they are and why I am a proud follower of everything ‘a beautiful mess’ is and represents.

  • Thank you so much for sharing, Emma. This is one of my favourite posts thus far (and I’ve been reading for years). It epitomizes the beauty and truth than can only be discovered once we embrace the messiness of life and identity!

  • Thank you for this Emma! Too often we assume that “success” is fixing everything that’s “wrong” with us. This is a beautiful reminder that we can find not just success, but happiness and fulfillment when we embrace our strengths instead. Best wishes to you all, always!

  • i just love you, emma! i think you’re an amazing woman and you inspire me to cook! i’ve learned i’m a pretty talented chef!

  • I was just having a pity party when this popped up on Facebook. Thanks for sharing, Emma! 🙂 I love that A Beautiful Mess is so relatable even after it’s grown so much. Love you guys, love this blog!

  • Love this – you and Elsie are a constant source of inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your stories with us- and definitely don’t be embarrassed. You should be very proud <3

  • This hits close to home for me… I have recently finished my self pity parties and am working on going back to finish my bachelor’s degree and launching my graphic design shop, and this was very inspiring to me! I think you and Elsie are very lucky to have each other as sisters, best friends, AND business partners! I would love to be able to work so well with my sister OR best friend, but we all have very different careers! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story!


  • This is something that I have been struggling with for quite some time. Feeling like an absolute failure with failed dreams. I have so much talent and know where to put it that I see. So many ideas and not a clue where to start to make them a reality. This post was such an encouragement not to look over anything and not give up. The both of you I have been following for quite some time now. You are awesome and don’t ever forget it.

  • I really needed this. My life hasn’t always been what I’d hoped to do, and my amazing plans have been foiled by Real Life more than a few times, but I’m working on it and finding my groove and hearing other people that I look up to say ‘hey, it takes time’ and showing that you don’t need to have the perfect life straight out of college is really a good message.

    Thank you for sharing this! (And you totally deserve to brag. ;D)

  • Oh Emma this is a beautiful post and thank you for being so transparent. I’m 21 and graduating college in May and I have been evaluating job offers that have not been my dream job but you’re right success is not a state of being but a continuous thing. I’m learning that now. Thank you so much for this post.

  • Emma, this was just what I needed to read! I got laid off and had to move back in with my parents last year, and it’s hard to not feel like a failure all the time. But I’m working toward making my dreams happen, and though I know they may change, it’s good to know that everything will work out. Just like it did for you! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your story! I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, so it is very encouraging to read about the paths other people follow.

  • Thanks for this Emma! I needed this encouragement today. I know exactly where you’ve been! This happened to me too, moved to LA for music and then moved back in with my parents:) Now living in London, but I really needed to read this, feeling discouraged. Best of luck!

  • Thank you for sharing this. I believe that things wil change for me too. I have a job but I don’t like it, it’s not who I am but I need money. Two months ago I started blog with my sister and it feels so right, like I found myself. I don’t have enough time to do everything I imagined because I work full time, but I’m working hard on it. Your story inspired me to continue working on my blog even more harder and hope one day I get to write a post just like yours today! Thank you!


  • This was perfectly timed to get me out of my own pity party in wet, cold Chicago far from family. Thanks for your wisdom, Emma. I guess I’ll get out of these sweatpants now.

  • Elsie and Emma,
    I have read your blog everyday for years, since I first work with Elsie “in a different life,” and I’ve never once left a comment, that is, until today. This post is beautifully written and very inspiring to me and I’m sure countless others. Thank you for putting yourself out there, even when it’s a bit intimidating. Life definitely throws us opportunities that we don’t always see that way in the beginning. I think your advice is great. Thanks so much for sharing! -Stephanie in Wisconsin 🙂

  • Dear Emma,

    I am currently on an exchange, away from home for the first time in a foreign country. I am 21 and constantly worry too much about what I am doing with my life and if I am “doing the right thing” and making the “right” choices.
    I can see a lot of myself in your description and my thoughts are very similar!
    You will always be one of my greatest inspirations, and this post was just what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing your story. It brings me great joy and hope to see that you are doing what you love and “living your dream”… even if it is not what you originally planned or maybe hoped for.

    I will continue to look back on this for inspiration!
    Thank you so much.


  • This isn’t embarrassing at all…it’s an amazing and bold account of everything you’ve been through, and I know that I greatly appreciate you putting it all out there for us to read. I have my days where I dream and don’t feel like I’ll ever get anywhere, but I think the biggest challenge is, as you mentioned, being honest with my own strengths and not being afraid to ask others for help. I hope to one day be as content with my day-to-day as you are now.

  • Emma, I’ve been a fan of ABM for so long and never, ever read something so personal come from you. Even when you wrote about your wedding day. I’ve always felt like you’re more of a reserved kind of person, so I think it’s really wonderful of you to write such a honest post – especially since ABM and your recipes are such a hit. Thank you for sharing this little piece of your mind. May you always be as happy as you are right now.

  • absolutely inspiring! thank you so much for sharing you success story! I always feel like a failure or like I’m settling and just seeing how successful you’ve become gives me hope!

  • Thank you so much for writing this. What a lovely, honest account of your life! I have a similar story that basically spanned age 21 to 27, and I think a lot of people do. Mine wasn’t acting but it was about learning to deal with some dreams not working out and other surprising, new ones developing. It’s important to share these stories because people going through that process can so frequently feel like they’re the only ones who don’t have it together. So again, I thank you!

  • Thanks for being real! So much truth about success being a process, and never a one-stop destination. It took me a LONG time to learn that, and sometimes, I need a reminder!

    My most beloved snippet of inspiration:
    “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Aristotle


  • Thank you for this personal post. I am currently trying to piece my life together. Graduating from Uni and working in unfulfilling jobs it is hard not feeling like you have failed. I am slowly discovering my strengths and weaknesses whilst also learning it’s ok to have weaknesses.

    You have given me hope to keep my chin up and keep on trying to reach my goals.

    Thanks again Emma.

  • Thank you so much. This was exactly what I needed today and even though I don’t feel any less lost, I’m a little more hopeful. Also I literally just received that dress (or one that looks exactly like it!) in the mail yesterday and wore it all afternoon and night!! 🙂

  • Your advice is so incredibly spot-on and insightful, Emma! Thank you for being so honest and putting your experience out there. I’m going through some shifts and big turning points in my career right now, and hearing about your journey really makes me view certain aspects with new clarity. This was a very refreshing way to start my day. 🙂

  • I’m a college student at the University of Washington in Seattle and began reading Elsie’s blog a while ago (my mom had followed her when she was really into scrapbooking). I loved being able to follow you both open your store and became inspired by your retro looks. Thank you for sharing your story Emma, my roommates and I are also struggling with choosing a direction for our lives to go in and this post reemphasizes what I’ve already begun to accept. Life doesn’t work out as planned and the ideal situation may not end up being the perfect one. Losing hope does happen but re-configuring your life goals will happen many times before you end up where you’re supposed to and those re-configurations are what help us overcome life’s obstacles and reach success. Thank you Elsie & Emma! You are truly an inspiration.

  • Thanks for sharing. Both of you have inspired me to pursue what I truly love. I’m so happy for you and congratulate you. Well done!!

  • Wow! This is such a great post! I too got my degree in Photography and found I hated Commercial Work once I got out of school and was trying to make a living on my own. I held a number of odd jobs along the way and made the move to Austin from Columbus. It was a BIG decision but worked out for the best. With the support and love of my best friend/husband I was able to start my own business (still in the first year). Your blog posts are very inspirational and I really enjoyed this post especially. It’s nice to know/ find out more about you Emma.

  • I have been feeling “stuck” in my current profession simply because I didn’t want to waste my degree even though I’m unhappy at my current job. I factor in my age, the amount or time and money I spent at college for 6 years doing something I knew wasn’t my passion anymore. The cost of going back to school… This is the best entry I’ve read on the ABM blog this far, and I am a years-long reader. You’re very inspiring, Emma. I take these words to heart. Thank you.

  • Thank you for this post–I needed this! I’m in the process of leaving one dream on hold to pursue another, and the challenges are wearying at times. It’s nice to see someone else find chance, happiness and success after changing paths.

  • You shared this at JUST the right time for me. Thank you so much! Im going through this “failure” stage right now and stuck on how to achieve my dream. This is such an inspiration.

  • Beautifully written and such great experiences to share. I love your outlook on life, and it’s fantastic that you’re sharing your experiences with us because I feel so many of us can relate. Thanks, gal! 🙂

  • Thank you for posting this. It’s just what I needed to hear right now! Well done on your success, you are an inspiration. And long may it continue!

  • When y’all were children did you have that book ‘Big sister & Little sister’? It was one of our favorites. The big sister is always taking care of the little sister, then one day she gets tired & runs into a field to cry. The little sister searches and searches for her, finds her, hugs her and then cares for her. I Loved this book as a child, also being the younger sister who seemed to often live in the shadow.
    I really appreciate you putting yourself out there for all of us to read about. Such an encouragement! Being a little sister can be tough stuff AND the best thing ever.
    thank you!

  • I’ve been reading this blog for four years… and have thoroughly loved every post since (as well as earlier, I’ve read the archives too!). However, this one comes at a time when I’ve been feeling defeated and uninspired with work and life… Without a doubt, my favorite post to date.

    Thank you Emma, Elsie, & ABM team for bringing some happiness and inspiration to my day on the reg. <3

  • Emma, thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us. Sometimes I assume some people are just successful and have never had a hard moment in their life. I have been struggling recently and this post is very inspiring. I’m happy for you and your success!

    Nicole / http://www.theanchoredsoulblog.com

  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Emma! You guys are so inspiring and incredibly talented – it’s good to see that it takes a little/lot of patience plus finding the right opportunity before things can fall into place as they have for you. Love your blog, book, app, etc. Congrats on all your success!

  • I’ve always wondered how you felt about becoming a part of A Beautiful Mess since it used to be just Elsie’s. I wondered if you ever felt like it was really yours too. You know? I’m glad that you take such pride in your work and have come to terms (or found your perfect place) still being Elsie’s little sister but equally a partner and co-owner and co-author and amazing individual! The pressure and expectations we put on ourselves is so great and it’s a huge milestone to understand your strengths and weaknesses and embrace them both! Thank you for sharing this. I’m so happy you’re happy.

  • there are so many people i know that feel like this right now. including myself. i’ve been a longtime reader, and although i’ve never met you, i’m proud of what the two of you have accomplished.

  • thank you, for this insight. Seriously, my life as a student is ending and some times it’s hard not to lose hope about living your dreams.

  • Great post, Emma! I recently moved across the country (Canada) with my boyfriend who got his dream job here but It’s been really hard on me living in a new city with no job and no friends. You’ve just inspired me to put myself out there more and see what opportunities are out there. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for writing this, Emma! I know a lot of young women — myself included — need this kind of encouragement right now. It may be tough out there, but we’re even tougher on ourselves.

  • Congratulations on a MILLION dollar year! More importantly, congratulations on inspiring all your readers, myself included, that we can really do what makes us happy.

  • Thank you for sharing, Emma!
    Thanks for the reminder that dreams change and putting something down doesn’t mean failure or that you can’t pick it back up again!

  • I’ve been following your blog for awhile now—and this is (hand’s down) one of my FAVORITE posts. Thanks so much for your honesty…it is helpful!

  • It’s so much more useful to read about failures than successes, and this is absolutely my favorite post on ABM. Thank you for your honesty. Regardless what dreams your readers are pursuing, I’m sure they can relate to this post. Since I enjoy scrapbooking/crafting more than cooking, I have tended to follow Elsie’s posts more closely, but this post was a great reminder why the two of you make such a great team!

  • Oh my gosh, Emma, THANK YOU for this post! I am currently working in LA at a sort of dead-end entertainment job, because I moved out here to be “in the business.” Two years in, I am discovering new talents and passions that have almost nothing to do with the entertainment business. I came out here to write (screenplays), which I still do in my spare time, but I am also finding that I love crafting/doing things with my hands. My etsy business is slowly gaining momentum and I am full of ideas on how to expand it. At first I was afraid, because that is not what I INTENDED to come out here for, but the more I embrace it, the happier I am. I know that if I follow my gut, I will get to a happy place like you are in right now. Thanks again 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. As part of a sister blogging team I can relate on so many levels. I haven’t quite found my happy place, but your story inspires me to keep on working hard, follow opportunities when they arise and create them when they don’t. I will definitely be bookmarking this and coming back to it when I feel like I have failed.

  • Thanks for sharing this insightful piece. I am currently in the post-grad, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life phase and really appreciated your words. I’m so happy for you and Elsie’s success!

  • I really needed to read this right now. I am just now, at 37, deciding to go after one of my dreams, which is to move to NYC. I am scared and keep trying to talk myself out of it, but I can’t shake the idea either. You are very inspiring and I’m really proud of you for not only going after your goals, but realizing when goals need to change. And I’m very happy that you shared your experience with us!

  • Thank you for taking a moment to be vulnerable and share your inspiring story with us. Even though I may never make a million dollars doing what I love, because of this post, I know I’ll feel like a million dollars. There are parts of my life that I keep fighting to make work…. I think it’s about time to “go with the flow.” This is by far my favorite post I have ever read… on any blog.

  • I thinks this hits home to many of your readers! It is tough, especially for the creative people out there, to figure it all out or realizing that you don’t have to! Thank you for sharing, this was just the advice I need. You are all so inspiring and seem still very down to earth. Always looking forward to getting home and clicking my ABM bookmark!

  • This is why y’all are so successful, you both are beautiful inside and out. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Fantastic piece! This is my favorite post so far and very inspiring. Thank you!

  • Emma thank you for being so honest! I’m at the oh sh*t stage “what am I doing?” — I needed this today 🙂

  • Thank you so much for writing this. Your blog is so beautiful and I love it but sometimes it can feed into that feeling of blog-life envy that I think a lot of people have from looking at things online–the idea that there are people whose whole lives are a never ending series of parties and crafts and cooking and cute husbands and no one is ever sad or full of doubt. Hearing you say that there have been real moments of perceived failure in your life is a good reminder for all of us that failure is as much a part of what life really is as fun and beauty. I appreciate your honesty and looking through the comments it sounds like other people do too.

  • Emma, I absolutely LOVED this. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. I feel like I really got to “know” you for the first time just now. I adore your advice, especially the part about how calling yourself a failure is a label you give yourself, and don’t be afraid to change your dreams. Brilliant! Sending you massive hugs and support from KC. Hope we get to cross paths some day…

  • Thank for for this Emma! As a recent college grad, this is exactly the kind of encouragement I need! 🙂 I have to keep reminding myself that there are new opportunities everywhere & that it’s crazy to expect or want everything to be all settled when I’m 22!

  • Hi Emma, I’ve been reading A beautiful mess since 2009 and never commented before, but I was so moved and inspired by this post I had to say thank you. Thanks for sharing, thanks for being brave.

  • this why we all love reeding your (yours + elsies!) blog. it is just so inspiring! thank soooo much!

  • This actually made me cry. I’ve definitely been having some pity party moments these days. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Emma it was so kind of you to open up and share this. It really helped me, and I know it will help so many others.

    I had no idea you are an actor (SAG card, heyy!), but when I saw you onstage at the Texas Style Council keynote last August, I honestly marveled at how composed, charming and well-spoken you were. And of course so pretty. I could totally see you ending up on camera again in the future. Any chance you might shoot more videos for ABM?

  • Thank you for this post…I needed this reminder. I have been stuck in failure mode for a bit.

  • This has been the most encouraging post I’ve read on A Beautiful Mess. Thanks for being transparent and sharing.


  • It’s so brave from you that you dare to share the downs of life and not only the up’s. I do soo agree with ypu that sometimes the worst times are essencial to make the best ones possible. Oh and congratulations with the million, that’s just amazing. I find it so inspirering that you guys blog for living and achiece such awesome things like the Pp and te cannon collaboration. You inspire a lot of people and you are just as importent to the blog as elsie is, i don’t think many people think you’re just here to show us some food. I wish you the best Emma.
    Love, Gemma

  • this is amazing, emma. so encouraging. i’m a little bit older than you and elsie, and i have to tell my younger friends and students this ALL THE TIME. its so easy to feel pressure to “be famous” in today’s world… and that’s the ONLY thing people think will bring them “success”. they don’t realize that TRUE “success” – is just living a happy life where you’re at peace with yourself. i’m so happy you wrote this blog. congratulations on everything 😀 <3

  • oh man, i really needed this at this point in my life (just out of college, moved w/ my boyfriend to a new place, not totally loving the location or the job i’m in) … thank you, emma, this was completely inspiring. i know more is waiting for me down the road, i’m just not ready for it yet 🙂

  • Hi Emma, thanks for sharing! You definitely shouldn’t think this as an embarrasing story… it’s much more than that. I needed to be reminded of the messages you shared here, especially #4. I so agree that everyone has a different view of success and to me I need to remember that getting there is a journey to be embraced. We should feel success with each milestone and learning along the way! Again, thanks for sharing your wisdom and encouragement.

  • As the younger sibling of an amazingly talented and driven sister I can completely relate to this. Thank you for sharing! This is exactly what I needed to hear.

  • Emma this is SO encouraging! Lately I’ve been feeling lost and frustrated, and it’s nice to hear that someone as successful as yourself has struggled too. Gives hope to a girl like me 🙂


  • This post couldn’t have came at a better time. I’m currently living in LA, moved here from the Bay Area about 1.5 years ago and heading back home in 8 days. I have a great job here at an ad agency but have decided to move back because I simply am not happy. My job is the only thing I am remotely interested in but when I leave work I can’t say I love my environment. Moving back and staying with family is what is eating me alive. I’m so independent here and I don’t ever want to lose that. This is what I needed to read to keep my creative juices flowing. This made my day. I will go with the flow of my life instead of scaring myself out of the possibilities. Thank you!

  • Very, very true. Having hit 40 this year I realized that most of my setbacks were necessary to reach where I am today. Success is not a straight line, you will fail, and failure is not a bad thing! Successful people aren’t successful because they never fail, they are successful because they learn from their failures, modify and keep moving forward.

  • This made me cry. It hit me so hard emotionally because I am currently picking myself up from a tremendous “failure,” and now I’m in that limbo stage you described. It’s frustrating because, like you, I have my degree, and, like you, I have talents I can offer. But I just can’t seem to get my footing.

    It’s hard to believe I’m not a failure. It’s hard to believe I can ever feel successful.

  • this actually made me tear up a bit. I’ve been working on my business for nearly three years and it’s been both rewarding and hard at the same time. I believe in what I do (I design, sew and sell custom hand bags) and I’ve been getting great feedback on my items, but when there’s not enough money to buy food at the end of the month (or in the middle often times, to be honest), it can be very discouraging. Yet I know that I love what I do, simply for the joy of creating “the exact” bag someone has always wanted. I just hope I’ll learn more about marketing my skills, that is something I definitely need to work on.

  • Thank you for posting this, Emma! It was beautifully written, inspiring & so relevant for me right now. Congrats on your million dollar year and all of the success you’ve had – you and Elsie rock!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m 22 and almost a year out of college and not where I thought I would be at all! I’m working in the field I intended to, but for terrible pay and I have a part-time retail job to make ends meet. Its so good to hear that other people (especially one of my very favorite bloggers) have been there before!

  • Wow, thank you so much for sharing this journey! I am on my own journey and I know how easy it is to get discouraged. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insights. It really touched something deep inside, and I am encouraged by you. From one little sister to another, you are awesome!

  • I love this post, uhg I love it so much because here I am, almost graduating college and no clue where to go with my life, there’s just so much to do and see in this world! Thank you for sharing this!

  • What an amazing blog. You and your sister are both wonderful role models.
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I know I saw a couple other people say they really needed this right now and I did too. Thank you.

  • On a lighter note, you should send a script with your life story to the producers of the Big Bang Theory….it is about time that “Penny” gave up acting and LA, just like you did, and go back to cultivating a dream that does not depend on chance!

  • Emma, I love when you open up your story, the posts about your relationships, your health, your history.

    This very idea, “Life is absolutely full of opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by simply because they aren’t the opportunities you thought you wanted. We don’t always know what direction our life will go.” is exactly what I’ve learned in the last year. Quitting a good job to do something “more exciting” which turned out to be also more unstable, more unsatisfying, more discouraging.

    And then, while I was looking for something else, anything, and something came along that I wasn’t sure if it was worth it long term. And it turns out, that it’s totally different than what I thought I wanted, but I love it and it’s stable and fun and has a future. BOOM.

    I love people opening up about their experiences because it gives others more room to look around, try things, find what works and not just what sounds good.


  • This is such a profound post! I am going through something very similar with my life (the down times) and am looking for a new adventure in life, a new route, and a new horizon. It is so encouraging to see this and that you’ve made so many accomplishments. I am favoriting this post to look at again in the future <3 THANK YOU!

  • I almost started crying when I read this post, because it’s describing a situation quite similar to my own. At the moment I’m not even sure if I have any dreams left, since I’ve pushed them away for so long as a result of being a little sister with a lack of confidence. Comparing myself to my older sister, and now to my little sister as well, keeps me from focusing on what really matters, i.e my hopes and dreams. Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get a grip on life and be able to actually enjoy it.
    It was a relief reading about your journey and realising that whatever I’m looking for is out there somewhere, and that everything will be ok some day. Thank you!

  • I definitely needed to hear this! I was just having a discussion regarding my dreams and my career choice (not necessarily the same thing at the moment). I’m going to school and working — both full-time — because I have to, but I’m trying my best to take advantage of opportunities that come along the way so that I can one day combine my dreams with my career. I’ve accepted a position as a photography assistant not because I want to become a professional photographer or open my own photography business, but because I think it will help hone my technique and skill in photography so that I can make my blog better (which is really a dream of mine!). It’s been so frustrating as I practically drag my feet through school, not because I hate it, but because I don’t know if it’s something I’m really passionate about. Knowing that other people have struggled with this and have definitely come out at the end in a better place is such a great thing to hear. Hopefully one day I can reach my REAL dream and work for ABM (yep, I’m that annoying gal that won’t stop bugging you guys! haha!)



  • such an inspiring post elsie. so many of us struggle with similar issues {myself included} and it is so wonderful to hear from someone who went down quite a few paths before finding the right one. thanks for being so honest!

  • Emma, I always knew you a big part of the success for Elsie (although Elsie can for sure handle her own, I’d like to think you were a highlight). I had no idea of your back story. It’s truly inspiring. I know sharing your personal past is a gift, thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you so much, Emma. This is something I really need to hear right now, and you nearly brought me to tears. You and Elsie are doing a wonderful thing with your blog, and I wish you the best!

  • Wow. This is all I needed to hear. I’m a 20 year old living in California. I left high school wanting to pursue theatre, so I enrolled in a local junior college. I loved theatre, but hated every other school subject. So, I took two classes (theatre and psychology) meanwhile having my first job working for a pink mobile food truck, “the cupcake lady”. She had a dream and went with it, now she’s buying her second truck and bringing in 800k a year. All because of a skill for baking and a dream of a big pink truck! Somehow in the midst of all of this, my former theatre teacher, who had a side photography business, asked me to be her assistant photographer. I had never held a DSLR until that point. By the end of the night I was getting up close to the couple and taking their first dance photos. By the end of that year I had purchased a baby DSLR (canon t3i) and started my own (very small) side business. I was still taking theatre classes and loved it. I was in a few shows and never felt so comfortable on stage. As my passion for acting grew, so did my small business. I’m to the point were I am able to turn down jobs because I would be overbooked. I’m asked to shoot beach weddings in Monterey. I capture love and important moments. This is my new dream job. I’ve taken this small hobby and thrived. A HUGE part of me misses theatre. Ugh. But this is where my heart is now. I dream about photographing my clients like I used to dream about being on stage. Very bitter sweet, but very happy. Thank you, Emma, for making me feel like I’m not a failure for not pursuing my original dream. Thank you both for being such an inspiration to me. And congratulations on your success.

  • This is so inspiring. It is part of why I follow this blog, because I can identify with it. I feel like my comments are being read and my opinion is respected. Thank you Emma for sharing this. It makes me feel a lot better about my life and the confused mess it can sometimes be.

  • Ok, I’ve read this blog off and on for a few years but have never commented! I just want to thank you so much for this post. It is very encouraging & the advice you’ve given is so kind and helpful!

    In the past year, I’ve gone from living in a bustling town and working my way up in a job that wasn’t exactly my dream job but certainly was taking me closer to making that a reality to having a unplanned baby (As in, I wasn’t planning ANY. Not now, not later!) and moving to a one-horse town to stay home with him. And it’s hard not to have pity parties or get discouraged.
    Thanks for the reminder that just because it isn’t the future you imagined it would be it doesn’t mean that it isn’t rewarding or leading you towards something even better. Also, love your haircut. You’re such a babe!

  • Aaaw thank you Emma. This is a very very thoughtful post and it gave me a cheer up even though I do not think I’m a failure. I just had a bad day 🙂 this made me think very positive though.
    Thank you!

  • Thank you for writing this post. I am in that spot on like where I can do anything and have no idea what to do with that! It was beautiful and inspiring to read your story! Keep on doing what you love 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this post! It really helped me a lot especially to not give up and keep going. Thanks so much!! 😀

  • Needed to hear this today. It means so much to hear about your experience and it’s helping me in particular, today!
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Emma, I’ve always found your voice to be a bit more relatable than Elsie’s, though she’s lovely as well. This was well-timed for me as I negotiate what I really want to do with myself and how to go about it all.

  • Emma, I’m a local reader that’s been following you girls for several years, I rarely comment don’t really fit your demo, but as a small ecommerce business owner, it’s been fascinating to watch the growth, changes, and challenges unfold with this site. So proud of your team’s success.

  • Thank you for posting this, Emma! I have been struggling with trying to do something I always thought I was meant to do (career path wise), but it doesn’t seem to be coming easy. I’ve also been doing some failure labeling too because it’s just not seeming to pan out like I thought it would. I’ve just recently had it kind of click in my head that maybe doing something else I didn’t foresee might not be so bad if I just let things flow. This year is about trying to listen to my gut and go with the flow towards whatever feels right. Your post confirms my thought process. And I’m glad that you ended up back home co-authoring ABM, it’s inspired me so much. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for your honesty! It’s much appreciated to those of us who are attempting to find our way in life. It’s nice to have a reminder that things will get better and many people have to go through trial and error until they find their calling.

  • I have never related to anything more than I have to this post. I spent the better part of last year feeling like world’s biggest loser after graduating art school and moving across the country only to get a “lowly” position at an art supply store and only having one free lance design position. Little did I know, these were actually “success moves.” Thank you so much for sharing Emma. You shouldn’t be embarrassed of your past. On paper, it sounds like your “failure” in LA was actually a big adventure. Here’s to seeing failure in a new light. xoxo Cait

  • I was 24 the year I moved back from LA. At the time it felt like such a hard year, but looking back now I view it as the beginning of everything awesome. Wishing you the same for your 24th year!


  • Honestly this is the most honest and inspiring post I’ve read to date on your blog. I definitely have been feeling a lot of this lately (recently finished school, can’t find a job, broke, thinking of moving back with my parents…) so this is the best peice of advice I could see right now. It’s tough and I don’t want to give up on my dreams, so knowing that it gets better is certainly helpful. Thank you for everything you (and your sister) do!

  • This was a beautiful post, and it was so relatable and inspiring. I definitely feel like a failure sometimes in comparison to where my friends/family are in life, but I try to not let myself think that way for too long. Not everyone’s journeys look the same, and that’s what makes it all so interesting.

    I also feel like a little bit of a failure sometimes because some people don’t understand my choice to not continue art school and instead continue art on my own, without spending thousands of dollars. I’m doing it my way, on my own terms, and for me (99% of the time) it feels totally right. One of my favorite quotes I found recently was “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” ♡

  • I think you are brave just for living in NYC. Such an inspiring city, but so big! I always feel a little lost when we have the luck to visit. Best of luck in your career!


  • Thanks for sharing this. I’m in a huge ‘figuring things out’ stage in my life. Sometimes I feel like Ester Greenwood at the foot of her fig tree (from The Bell Jar). Reading your story was really inspiring.


  • This is one of my favorite posts by far. I love this blog for all the amazing creative ideas but this definitely serves as a reminder of the fact you are normal young women. I feel stuck and l am still searching for my dream job and this really inspired me. Thank you so much for sharing! <3

  • Hi! I love the photos, projects and good energy I always find on your blog. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. Best regards from Barcelona,

  • Thanks for this! I discovered ABM blog back when I was going through the exact same thing. This place, this blog, gave me so much creativity and hope that I could make something of myself, like you ladies were. I too, had many a pity parties, some that lasted too long. But now a couple years later I am on my way, working for myself and being creative in everything I do. Thanx.

  • Love this post! I am at that point my life, graduated, trying to work, i can do anything and have no idea what to do with it! This was something I needed to read. So beautiful & Inspiring to read! Thank you for keeping up with this amazing blog and sharing your story!

    Keep doing what you love!

  • Yes, I think having a strong best friend in your life makes all the difference. I’m SO lucky to have Elsie push me to be where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without her. I think friends/family are so, so important in life. We have to surround ourselves with people who are rooting for us.


  • Such an inspiring post Emma! I think we all go through this and feel like we are alone feeling this way. I’ve felt like a failure after many of my business ideas failed – my last failure was what brought me to my (finally) successful business. I feel like a success not only because I can make a living from what I do now – but mainly because I have developed a skill that I am passionate about.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Both Elsie and yourself are huge inspirations for me. I am a young artist from Chicago and constantly find myself struggling to market my art. I started a blog in hopes that it can one day be as successful as A Beautiful Mess is for you and Elsie. I find myself oftentimes going through your old blog posts (on Food Coma) and old blog posts on A Beautiful Mess and I feel like I know you both so well. I once discovered that I used the same crafting scissors as Elsie and made it a huge production to all my friends and family. They may have been a little confused, but what they don’t understand is that I strive to one day be as successful as you and Elsie. You are celebrities that got where you are from mere talent and perseverance.

  • This blogpost couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thank you for helping me cry one less time today.

  • dear Emma,
    in 2012 I moved from a little town in Germany to Bangkok. The reason was my boyfriend’s phd. Before that, I worked as an book-editor. Things did not financially turn out well for us in the big mango, so last year we had to go back to Germany. And I moved back to my parents place – with no job and no money and my boyfriend living hours away from me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It was very inspirational and emotionally moving. You are so right: we are no failures. Every decision is right and every experience has to be made. Those are the kind of storys that we will tell our children and grandchildren. It is good to take risks and it is good to “fail” every now and then. One will appreciate and enjoy his success even more.
    Since january I am back on track and share a nice little appartment with my loved one, a jobinterview in front of me. 🙂
    keep up the good work, love your blog!

  • What a beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations on all your success!

  • Oh goodness was my life SO far from perfect after college. I don’t think I really hit my groove 3-4 years after. Timing is different for everyone. There’s really no reason to compare. I did a lot of that and it never made me feel like pushing forward. We have to just focus on our own life, everyone’s story is going to be different.


  • loved this. I just finally shuttered my photography business and could not be happier about the decision…. even though it took me years to make it.

  • Yes, success (in my opinion) is more a direction you head/work toward. Just work toward your dream job and learn everything you can along the way! Don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t “there” yet, it will come. It’s the getting there that’s hard but so worth all the hard work.

    I believe in you! Best of luck as you start a new chapter in life.


  • Wow this is so motivating and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing such a raw and real piece of your life! It really does help those of us who are still (forever) figuring things out.

  • Emma, this post is absolutely great! THANK YOU!
    I am in that very year of my life! I left a great city that I loved only for a job that gave me more money in a city I had barely heard of. I absolutely hate the city, and long for the times when I was living in my other city (in New Zealand). This year I made the very hard decision that I will quit my job in June when my contract ends and move back there (with probably less job opportunities) in order to pursue my happiness, even though this job gives me financial stability. That is also the reason I started my blog, to document that very journey I am going through this year!

    It’s always good to hear from someone who achieved success with perseverance and hard work 😉

    Veronica @ http://happylifeofacitygirl.blogspot.com/

  • Oh Emma, great post! I sure do love you and your sister! And selfishly, I am so glad that you are here instead of in LA!

  • I don’t normally post comments, but reading this brought tears to my eyes…and a smile to my face. I felt so connected to this post, especially right now when I’m feeling very lost. You, Elsie, and this whole blog have been an inspiration to me for a few years now, and this post just cements that feeling.

    Thank you so much for sharing this piece of yourself. I wish I could give you a hug!

  • It will. Just keep going. That year at my parent’s was hard and embarrassing (although, awesome too since my parents totally rock!) but it was such a important year for me. The beginning of it all. 🙂


  • Thanks for this, lovely Emma! It was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’m a big believer in life being a journey and embracing all the twists and turns along the way, but while I’m back living with my parents and being knocked back from jobs it really helps to read these encouraging words!! I have 2 older, successful sisters too so I know how it feels to be the younger sister! You two are incredible and I love learning more about your story through these kinds of posts. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me today! xx

  • I’m seeing a lot of the comments are from people who are in the same situation and I can tell you as a teenager who an see her life heading in that direction this is really encouraging. I don’t know what I want to do and I feel like I have too many options. It’s good to have a glimpse ahead, especially from someone with creative tendencies. Most people in my life view the things I love to do only a hobbies and its going to be hard for me to fail at and still continue to pursue the things I love with those people around. My blog is one of those things and I am proud of it and how much ive learned regardless of its success! Thank you for sharing. I wish more people were as honest about their rocky starts.
    Love you and many blessings!

  • I’m sure this post was hard for you to write, but I just wanted you to know, it brought tears to my eyes. This is me. I live at home with my parents and I am so happy here. They are my best friends, and I am happy. But then I start thinking that I am a failure because I still live at home, regardless of the fact that I’m happy here, pursuing my art and expanding my blog. Thanks for being inspiring.

  • Really great post. I will soon be entering a new phase in my life and your thoughts on failure and recognizing opportunities really hit home. Thank-you!

  • Thank you for being so real. You are truly inspiring. I can’t express to you how much this post has helped me today and I congratulate you on all of your success! I’ve followed A Beautiful Mess for several years and it is so refreshing to know that everyone goes through similar situations. At some point in time, everyone seems to feel as though they have failed — I know I have. In many cases, another door opens to a dream you’ve never truly realized could actually work out. Thank you so much for your honesty.

  • I so totally relate to this… after moving across the country to get a degree in product design, I felt a calling to be a teacher. After 2.5 years teaching, I decided the classroom was absolutely and positively NOT for me. I spent a year unemployed and job searching, finally landing a job in higher education that I never would have imagined for myself. It’s not where I want to be forever, but it has been perfect for right now… although I’m starting to get the itch for what’s next. But, honestly I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences… a little bit from each of them is what makes me who I am. If I could just pinpoint a position where I could use what I like best and am best at from each of them…

  • I am so so grateful for this post today – I have spent a few years trying to figure out my business. I have moved from an Etsy shop to graphic design and now to owning a brand agency. Each time I changed direction a part of me felt like a failure, but I see now that it was a learning curve and I should be proud that I have carried on carving my own path.

    Thanks again for this post Emma!

  • And with that, I’m misty eyed…

    Thank you for sharing. I know I REALLY needed to read this, and I know there are others!

    Your blog is inspiring!

  • Hi Emma,

    Thanks for sharing. I wrote a post only a few days ago about feeling a little lost and wishing to re-establish my path. I think it’s really moving that you touched on a topic that many of us “don’t like to talk about.” It’s easy when we’re surrounded by social media, blogs, beautiful photography, etc. to feel as though our own personal suffering or struggles are unique, and like our words aren’t worth sharing. It’s really nice to see how far you’ve come.


  • Thanks for sharing this. I love that you allowed yourself to be vulnerable to encourage others who might be struggling to realize their dreams.

  • The first few sentences of Your Story (college because of your parents and landing on photography since you didn’t know what you wanted to major in) is exactly like mine o.o I also moved to LA and then back home after crashing and burning and NOT achieving any of the goals that I had hoped to pursue while there. I’m back home now and just trying. Trying trying trying.

    Thank you for sharing your background. It’s comforting to read about someone else with very similar circumstances and see that they’re living their dream job. Gives me hope!

  • Thank you. Honestly, I am a bit more reserved. I find it hard to “put it all out there,” you know? It’s a scary thing. One thing that pushes me to try more though is all our readers. We have the very best readers in all the world and I hoped that my story could maybe help one (or some) of them so I decided to press publish on a difficult thing for me to talk about. Thank you for your kind words. 🙂


  • I love this. Thank you for sharing. I feel somewhat like you did, having a hard time figuring out where I’m heading. I have a dream, but it keeps getting pushed back by obstacles, which is really, really tough. I’m currently getting my Master’s and so desperately want to pursue my Ph.D right afterwards…but money is a major problem. So I may have to take some time in between and use this TESL certificate I’m about to earn and go abroad to make money for awhile. Which is hard for me to accept because I wanted to be at a university, working towards my Ph.D. But you gotta take what you can. Being abroad could be amazing. We’ll see.

    Anyway, sorry for babbling my not-so-interesting story. I don’t usually comment (always read this blog of course!) but this really hit home so I wanted to thank you for sharing. I definitely understand the whole feeling of being overshadowed by siblings, too 🙂

  • Hello,
    I am a college Freshman right now and I really connected with your story! I have no idea what I want to do! Thank you for your honesty, and I will keep all your advice in mind as I move through these next few years.

  • i actually cried. what the hell!
    after what i can only describe as one devastating year, something as simple as listening (reading) to someone else opening up about their story is not only awe inspiring, but so humanising.

    thank you for this, Emma. you’ve put a truly warming smile on my face. and of course, congratulations to both you and Elsie. 🙂

  • This is probably one of the best posts I’ve ever read on this blog – and that’s really saying something. Thank you for your words, they’ve touched me and made a difference in my life.

  • this way amazing. the kind of inspiring tell all that turns into sort of a pep talk to keep moving towards what we want to do in life. thank you for writing this.

  • Oh Emma, this is just what I needed to hear today. After 15 years of being a stay at home mom, I start work this weekend – working part-time at a roller-skating rink. I have a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in library science, therefore I’m not “supposed” to have a part-time job at a place where kids come to play, at least, not in my head I’m not “supposed” to. But, our family’s finances have hit a spot where I really need to be bringing in some kind of paycheck just to get by. I know this isn’t a permanent solution – my husband of 20 years and I are working on that still – but I have been very defeated by feeling embarrassed by my new job. Thank you for letting me see it as a fun opportunity instead. I love your blog, your recipes, and you allowing us glimpses into your life.

  • Thanks so much for posting this. I am a 20-something in a real state of flux in the career area it is inspiring to see that you CAN do what you love for a living. This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

  • I agree! I sometimes feel frustrated about being the little sister, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world either. It’s just one of those things.


  • So many things on ABM are “picture perfect” (which is what I love about it), but it’s always nice to be reminded that you’re regular people with regular real life challenges, too 🙂 It’s especially inspirational in this never-ending gloom of Winter. haha. Thanks, Emma! Keep up the great work! xx

  • Hi Emma,

    Thank you for sharing this inspirational story with us. I have been feeling completely lost lately. I am from Spain but moved to LA to work and study. I loved it there but I couldn’t get a new visa so I had to move back with my parents. After a year of being unemployed and feeling like I should be in the US, I decided to try again and move to NYC. I did a couple of internships as a fashion designer but once again, I didn’t have good luck with my visa. However, when living in NYC I met my boyfriend (who is from Canada) and after coming back to my parents house in Spain again and spending all my savings in NY, I decided to move to Canada with him. Now I have a good job, and a wonderful boyfriend. I hate where I live right now (Montreal) and I still have a strong desire of moving to LA again, but I feel like I already tried 2 times and it didn’t work out. I used to be so confident and have a lot of determination, but after those 2 experiences I feel like I shouldn’t even try anymore. Your post made me realize that is never too late or too difficult to try again, even if it is scary or you have tried before.

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work.


  • Thanks for the sincerity and honesty! It’s a big deal opening up like that. You’re story may have been difficult at times but you’ve become a pretty awesome person!! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Emma!
    This comes to me at the perfect time! We just had a meeting this morning at the bakery I work at about the business almost closing, and basically everyone is deciding whether to stick with the business, or look for other options.
    Although I hate the feeling of an insecure income, and hate job hunting, this change comes at a good time for me as lately I’ve been feeling the need for a career change. Although I love being a cake decorator, I don’t want to work in bakeries for the rest of my life. When I dream about my life-long career, it’s in film & tv production.
    So, right now I’m re-writing my résumé, tailoring it to a job in media production. I’ll have to start from the bottom of an industry again, but I know it’s a step in the right direction. 🙂
    Even though I’ve never been a lifestyle blogger like you guys, your blogs, projects, and stories have always inspired me to stick with doing the creative work that I love to be able to turn it into a profitable business some day.
    Now, more than ever, I am working hard at making my writing, videos, etc. that I do online into something credible and someday profitable.
    Okay, that’s like my whole life story in a comment. Ha ha. This post just gave me a big gulp of inspiration that I needed right now, so thanks. 😀

  • Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this post.

    Dream chasing, and dream changing are not always an easy thing. Playing it safe, and making ‘wise’ decisions are often what I fall back on.
    Thanks for reminding us that failures are often our greatest moments; if we are willing to admit it and dream.

  • That’s incredibly kind. I sure didn’t feel composed up on that stage that day. Public speaking is very different from acting, I think. I don’t know if either will be a big part of my future but I was happy to meet everyone last summer at TxSC.

    And yes, we’d love to do more videos. We hope to absolutely flood our youtube channel this year. 🙂


  • As a college senior being terrified of wherever my life and career may take me, this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty, it’s so refreshing and appreciated!

  • This is so great. Thank you for your honesty. Posts like this are so much more meaningful and I love to hear the behind the scenes of your work. Thanks for sharing and i look forward to hearing more!!

  • I already knew you and your sister are very special. Now I am so much more sure. I really feel happy and very honored to let me know you

  • You will Tina. Keep going. It will work out for you! I am so glad I stopped labeling myself a failure, it gave me the space I need to grow and ultimately find happiness. This will happen for you too. You are NOT a failure.


  • This is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you Emma for letting us see that it all hasn’t exactly been an easy road to get to where you are now. I’m in the position you were in (living back at home with parents, crying and having a pity party that I “failed”) and this has really made me realize that it’s not the end of the world and the best is yet to come!

  • Hi Emma! Thank you so much for this, I was really upset and crying 20 minutes ago because I have so many doubts about the future… ”What if, what if, what if?”
    Thank you again, you just made me realize what I need to do.
    Lots of love

  • Thank you for this post. It was very inspiring. I have experienced something similar. I went to university to study Architecture because I didn’t know what else to do. But it wasn’t for me. I felt like a failure when I dropped out and took the first job that accepted me, even though it was dental nursing and low paid. Over time my priorities changed. I realized I didn’t need to be earning loads to be happy and successful. That was up to me and how I felt within myself.

    Reading this post from you Emma, someone who I admire and look up to as a regular reader of ABM, was reassuring. It’s not just me that has felt like this. Other people out there, people who I see as far more successful than myself, have felt this way too.

    Thank you 🙂 x

  • this is the kind of post i miss you guys doing!
    i love it!
    i love the honesty of it all!!!

    here’s to the good times now and the more to come!!!!

  • emma, i’ve been a fan since food coma. is that what it was called? anyway, aren’t you glad you pursued your dreams because then you would have always wondered, right? i mean they say, whoever they is, that we often regret the things we didn’t do or try, you know, those risks we were afraid to make. just want to say, i adore this post. your comedic timing through writing is awesome. i dig your new hairstyle too. continue creating, cooking, and dreaming on! we’ll continue reading. 🙂

  • Oh Emma, you were right in thinking that laying it all out there might help someone today, because it sure helped me. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is passing me by while I’m struggling to get some footing in this crazy world. I have no idea what to do with my life, other than continue my full-time job as an admin ass’t at a law firm. Your post has inspired me to maybe put more emphasis on my writing and art.

    You are talented, beautiful, smart and funny—thank you for letting us peek inside your world!

  • emma, thanks so much for posting this! i changed my major in college at least 5 different times. i settled on accounting because it had numbers (i love numbers) and was a practical skill to obtain in the workforce nowadays. and now that i’m working full-time as an auditor, i am constantly questioning what it is that i’m actually good at and what it is that i would enjoy doing for a living. your post inspires me. thanks for sharing from your heart and your experiences with all of us 🙂

  • I’m so happy you shared your story. Having followed ABM for a while, I knew bits and pieces of your background, but reading everything in your own words has touched my heart. Success and failure are so hard to measure, but somehow the label “failure” is so easy to apply to ourselves when things don’t work out the way we plan. Just like so many people, I have my own dream that I’m not sure is working out. It helps to know that success comes in all shapes and sizes, despite expectations. Congratulations on all you have accomplished!

  • Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable part of your life… I work a full-time corporate position and I think I’ve finally found a good balance between my “structured” day life and my “creative” life through blogging and social media and every day I try to work towards what makes me happy. So, thank you for this post… your journey is so inspiring and encouraging. xoxo

  • This is such an inspiration post, Emma. I have recently been forced into abandoning my first choice of career and I’m floating, thinking about my next move.

    I’ve been reading for a long time and as much as I love all of your posts, my favourites are always the ones in which you open up about your lives. As business women and creative inspirations, it’s amazing to hear about how this manifests in your everyday lives.

  • An amazing post!! You are such an inspiration and sharing your journey with us all is encouraging to those of us much further down our dream ladder. I can relate as a failed dancer myself, but I know dreams can change and I am grateful to you for reminding me of that. Congratulations on all your success, we know both you and Elsie work so hard and we appreciate everything you share.

  • thanks for sharing your experience… even if you think is embarassing, the true is that you are just spreading light to the world 🙂

  • Ah, the timing of this is uncanny. Thank you for being will to share (even the parts you consider embarrassing). It is so inspiring to read the back story of how someone successful came to where they are. It’s rarely (ever?) because they just woke up knowing exactly what to do and then did that thing and this is a wonderful reminder of what success and the path to finding your passion look like in the real world.

  • Oh man, I really appreciate this post! I’m still in that lengthy process of figuring things out. It’s hard to be happy when it feels like you’re doing things differently then the people around you. This is a nice reminder though that eventually I’ll find my way. Thankyou!

    P.S. I’m so envious of the relationship you have with your sister, one day I hope to have something similar with mine

  • Thank you so much for sharing Emma. I have followed both Elsie’s and your personal blogs for a few years now and have always felt you were a kindred spirit. I love cooking and baking, animals, crafts, and I also majored in Philosophy solely because I enjoyed studying it after cycling through several other major choices (photography, political science, psychology and even linguistics for bit). I wish my sister was more like Elsie because I couldn’t dream of anything more perfect than working with her, but she is an intensive care unit nurse so I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I hope to find the way to my dream soon, as I am only losing time being dissatisfied with my life. I am currently stuck in an office dreaming dreams of another life, one where I could bake, cook, knit and craft to my heart’s content all day long. Thank you for always inspiring me!

  • Yes, life can take such big turns. Sounds like yours did, indeed. I bet you’re an amazing mother. And, like all mothers, you are so much more too! You are awesome, thank you for commenting.


  • I needed this. I’m 25 in a disappointing “job” in the fashion industry. I paper push, I have no creative hand in anything and that is the side of things I most desperately wish to be in. I’ve recently been promoted but only to a job with more responsibility and paper work for the same pay.

    Your story gives me great hope. Thank you for sharing your history with us, most successful people don’t often talk about their early struggles and disappointments. I found this blog only a couple of weeks ago and love it! This post made me even more of a dedicated reader than I already had become.

  • Somehow, we all struggel with the same issues in some point of our lives … thank you so much for sharing this.
    it gives me some faith …
    I wish you all the best!
    Um abraço de Portugal :*

  • I’m not sure if you fully realize how incredibly inspiring this is.

    It is so comforting to hear something so honest–especially from someone so successful. It’s so easy to forget that people you admire are actually people who struggle just like you do. You just assume they’ve always had their shit together. But hearing about your struggles makes the failures sting a little less and it really proves that you can do anything if you just keep going and adjust where you need to.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you. This was so elegantly written and definitely something I needed to read. I am in my fifth year of graduate school (in a program that averages 6 years in length) and I cannot express how difficult it has been and is continuing to be. Not only have I been one of only three women in our division of 50+ for the last few years, the rigor of the program is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. But here I am, still in it. Still finding joy in small successes and still heading toward a goal. One that will perhaps shed more light on what my dream is and who I will become. Although I’m unsure of where I’m headed next, the encouragement that comes from your words is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful message.

  • oh, i just LOVE this!! thank you for sharing your story!! i can relate to it so much. after college i was stuck…and i felt like such a loser b/c all my friends were off living their lives…not living at home and starting jobs. while i was at home with my parents, feeling pretty depressed because i couldn’t find a job with what i graduated for…journalism. i ended up going to back to school for teaching and things began to keep unfolding and changing for me. stopping teaching…trying to find the connection to what exactly my heart was speaking from within. at this time i thought i was crazy, b/c yet again, i was continuing to change my path, when all my friends were still in their first jobs from right out of college. i remember the look in their eyes when i told them my changes and the words they said…you’re changing AGAIN??? but, my heart knew i wasn’t happy where i currently was and i refused to let unhappiness be my guide and stay in it. now, looking back, and finally finding my way, going through all of that isn’t failing…it’s growing and blossoming and very much needed!! i’m so glad i listened within, like you did, because it brought me closer to and extremely connected to who i am…which now, i’m proud to voice it with confidence without caring what anyone thinks!! :):) it def. takes time to get to this place though. it’s all about listening to our intuitive selves…amazing stuff!! 🙂 you’re an inspiration!!

  • Thanks so much for sharing! I’m about to be graduating from college without a lot of plans so this was definitely an encouraging read 🙂

  • Thanks for this post, Emma. I completely agree with your point about making something a hobby instead of a career! I was 23 when I had to move back in with my parents, and I’m really struggling with it, four years later. (I have no local friends & I’ve been working for the family business, but it’s not working out; I need to figure out what I want to do and “change my dream” so I can move on.) This post was exactly what I needed today. Seriously, thank you.

  • Thank you Emma!! I love your post, I’m follow you since 3 or maybe more years! When Elsie was alone and I was happy that you worked with her because since your are here, blog it was even better! Both of you are amazing and my life and yours is very far, a different life, country…but I don’t Know why I love your blog and it is you the reason that I had last year the “courage” make my own blog! I start live like I wanted I star be honest with myself and I start to follow my dreams!! Elsie and you make a lot for this happens! You are very brave tell this to the million of people that reading you! Thanks very much Emma I think is your better post! xo
    Sorry my English is horrible!

  • Thanks for sharing this story! I think it kind of goes to show that a lot of people go through failures before finding success. I think many 20-somethings these days can relate to similar failures (myself included). Great advice, too. 🙂

  • This is just what I needed to read today! My best friend and I are in the process of finding our dream! Perfect day for this post #inspired

  • It’s only in our fantasies that anyone’s bio is a straight line from here to there. I suppose there are a few people who just KNEW what they’d end up doing and where they’d end up living. But I don’t think that many.

    Life is long and we can’t anticipate every twist and turn. Nor can we control either our talents or the luck that comes our way.

    I figure that if I get to the end and can look back and see that I was a good friend and spouse and mom and made some art along the way, I’m WAY ahead of the game.

  • this was so inspiring, emma, i even got a little choked up reading it. so happy for you in your amazing success. it sounds like it’s been a long journey, and you’ve earned it 🙂
    xo jac

  • I haven’t been following your blog for that long (don’t know how I missed it for so long, clearly I live under a rock!). This is actually my first time commenting. I just wanted to thank you for this. So inspiring to read at a time when I feel really lost in life myself and like I’ve accomplished nothing in my 28 years of life. I hope I will be able to look back on this difficult time one day and see it as a step towards where I was meant to be.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story Emma ~ I can’t really put into words how this has made me think about some upcoming challenges, but it is something I will take strength from over the following months. Congratulations and well done for all your hard work and tough choices x

  • Emma, I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I read abeautifulmess daily. I absolutely love it and it is a dream of mine to one day meet the two awesome sauce ladies that run it. I have recently been feeling like I’m stuck and I have no where to turn. Your story inspires me to try harder, that dreams are possible at any age and with any circumstance. I have to be honest that I felt so much envy when you purchased a home for your business. How I would love to do that. I am at a turning point in my life and am nervous to make the change for fear of failure. Reading this gives me hope and makes me ask myself why not. Thank you again, you rock!

  • I always read your lovely blog, but never comment. This post inspired me so much that I had to 🙂 I’m in a place in my life where I am trying to figure out what to ‘do with my life’, what my talents are and what would make me truly happy (I’m obviously in my mid-twenties…). I haven’t figured out how to do so yet, but your honest and vulnerable story has motivated me to not give up.

    Thank you, Emma!

  • I had to move back home away from my dream town to Texas with my parents after a failure on my own (not really a failure but I didn’t really thrive either). But a few months later, I landed my dream job as well. I UNDERSTAND, she-bro.

  • Loved reading this! You two have worked SO HARD and have been so dedicated to making your company grow. It definitely shows! xoxox

  • This might be one of my favourite pieces on your beautiful blog. THANK YOU so much for being vulnerable and sharing this. I feel like many people see the successes of people online, or their parents, and feel cheated that they are not there. If you could see me, I practically screamed AMEN when you said “success is a process”. Success is hard work and many people in our generation don’t want to put in that hard work. I’m so glad and so proud that you are putting in hard work and are being rewarded for it. Many many many blessing on you <3

  • Not embarrassing at all – absolutely wonderful to read and empathise and be inspired by. Thank-you for typing out your thoughts!

  • Emma!! Thank you so much for this. It’s so encouraging and beautifully real. Wishing all you guys many more million dollar years and even more success!

  • I have a friend who says… well, I can have a pity party, or I can have a party! Way to party!

  • Hello,
    This is such a wonderful post….it’s so encouraging to know that you didn’t just waltz into such a great job. I’m 24, also just moved back in with my parents, and not so much feeling a failure, but feeling like my dreams have just blown up! I’ve spent the past few years teaching abroad, which contrary to many beliefs, is really difficult. I am already trained to teach in England and wanted to return and pursue this career, as it is my dream to be a primary school teacher. However, I’ve now found out that I can’t teach in the UK without police certificates from both countries, for which I have no chance of getting. So the job I have always wanted and been working towards can no longer be! And then I came home and read this and it’s really helped me to stay positive and think that maybe instead this is an opportunity.
    Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Emma, you are an inspiration. I really needed to hear this and to relate to someone my age who took where they are in life and made something happen. Life is about the risks you take, and not letting opportunities slip through your fingers. I admire you and your sister for many reasons and cherish reading your words! Thanks lady 🙂

  • emma, thank you for sharing this! often times, i look at others and feel like i’ll never have that kind of success, but i’m learning my journey in life won’t look like someone else’s journey. it’s about doing what i love, whether anyone sees my work or not.

  • I’ve been following for a while and posts like this is why! I think i needed to read this to keep me going. I’m taking a gap year from uni after this term to reevaluate and recharge and your advice makes me think it’s the right thing to do. Here’s to the future, ‘One million, two million, three million, four
    In just five years, forty million more’!

  • Thank you for sharing this, Emma. I’m sure I’ll be repeating a few comments that people have made on here. But this is something that I continually need to hear. I’m going on 25, an artist recently married but living in Vancouver, Canada which is a big and overwhelming city (at least, to me! I come from a small town in the prairies!). It’s incredibly hard to find a job here and I’ve been unemployed for almost 4 months… so it can be hard to feel inspired sometimes. But posts like this make it easier! So keep writing them every once in a while because there are those of us who need to hear it!

  • I’m in a career transition right now and I loved the line “An amazing opportunity disguised as a mundane option may come your way tomorrow; don’t miss it.”; that is a great reminder! Thanks for sharing your heart, Emma.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I think labeling yourself as a failure is a very female thing to do. I’ve done it myself. I did a job training between the ages of 16 and 18, went back to school afterwards, then started studying twice just to stop after one semester and go back to the company I thought I’d left behind me when I was 18. I felt like a complete loser. My (extended) family labeled me as a failure, even my sister did so, I think – she loves me but was very disappointed by my behaviour.
    I’m so thankful for my parents, they were always there for me, they watched me thrive. The week after next, I’ll start studying again. It feels so good because now I’m doing it for me. Not because society expects me to. Your story will inspire many women to embrace their “fealties”.

    Nowadays I’m living by “Your past is just a story. Once you realize this, it has no power over you.” 🙂
    xo Andrea

  • Emma, as 44 year old entrepreneur and businesswoman this is exceptional to read. Your honesty, kindness and clear look at your journey is an inspiration for those younger and even those of us older. Keep sharing and it is fun to watch your dreams come alive! – Jacqueline

  • I’ve always been a silent reader of your blog, but I was so moved by this post I had no choice but to comment :)It takes a lot of humility to be proud of our siblings and friends and happy for them while having a hard time figuring out what to do with our own life. Having to accept that our dreams and goals may change along the way is a struggle we all have to deal with and your text has such a refreshing and honest way to describe it. Long live A beautiful Mess!

  • goosebumps.
    thanks for being so honest, emma!!!
    thats life. and i´m so happy with you, that you live your dream now.
    so so great.
    you worked for it and you can be proud of that.
    so proud!
    thanks for your words.


  • Hello..
    I’m new to your blog and I just want to say thank you! A post full of truth and beauty. Life. Loss. Transparency. Hope. Faith and aspirations! As I find myself, at 53, in a new season of pursuing a different dream, I keep telling myself, “It’s not too late.” Your story was very encouraging. Congratulations on your success and happiness! <3

    Blessings to you,

  • I really, really love this post. Thank you for your candor, as it is inspiring to all that read your truthful and honest words. I wish you and your sis even more success in the future!

  • This is beautiful. Thank you for taking a chance and sharing a vulnerable moment of your life with us. My life is in the middle of what seems (and feels) like a massive, unexpected shift, so this hits very close to home right now.

  • Thank you for your story. I’ve been in “failure” mode since getting laid off in December. I’ll be reading your post often as I see what comes next.

  • Wow! I think I really needed to hear this. You have some great advice in there that I will try to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Thank you for sharing, Emma. I’m still trying to figure out my dream. I agree that sometimes dreams have to change.

    This post came at a very needed time for me so thanks 🙂

  • Thank you, Emma. I started following A Beautiful Mess before you joined Elsie, and it’s been amazing to watch it evolve. As a reader, the growth and change felt organic and right, and reading this post shows how connected your readers feel to you. I think your success has been built on your abilities to be genuine, which is a talent both you and your sister (and your whole team) seems to have. Thanks for sharing this behind-the-scenes and for the encouragement. It can be hard to see past the beauty of this blog to the grit and the hard work, but this was a great reminder of how much it takes to get where you are.

  • I really needed to read this today, thank you for sharing your journey, your vulnerability. Seems like you and Elsie have it all together, and it’s nice to know it was a long and colorful road to get there. It makes me feel less hopeless.

  • I think somehow I needed to read this. I haven’t looked at your blog in awhile and today I thought “I miss a beauitful mess” and there was this post. I’ve been feeling like a failure most of my life, but I really always want to keep going and improve and make something of my life. I look up to you and your sister so much, I only hope I can one day live as happy as you are right now. Thank you for inspiring me, eventhough I’m on the other side of the world and only know you guys through your blog. xox

  • Thank you so much for this post, this morning I was feeling very lost as to what I am doing with my life and which direction I want it to go in. This post has showed me that it is ok to not have it all together and to keep pushing forward, its ok to be lost sometimes, i just need to find my way through it.

  • Emma, there is nothing embarassing in your story. It’s just life, and i can totally relate to the feeling of being a failure.
    I quit college after 3 years thinking i had a good degree that would allow me to do what i wanted (work in a high school to be a student counselor). I spent 7 years of my life taking the test to achieve that and never succeeded. Eventually my worked stoped, i was unemployed found a super duper boring job in an administration and then answered to a life opportunity.
    A friend of mine told me about her boss looking for someone to work with mentally disabled people. I accepted that opportunity even though i was scared and it was far from what i had planned. 4 years later here i am working my dream job (still in the same business), i got a promotion and i really feel successful ! I’m so thankful to have taken that opportunity 4 years back !!!
    Thank you for telling your story. I totally agree with you, there is always hope.

  • Great timing of this post. A huge opportunity for me has just presented and I was debating how to proceed.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing journey

  • I feel like you did, everyday I wake up. I’m already 42, and although I have ideas of who/what I’d like to be “when I grow up”, I feel like it’s already too late for me. I’ve been coasting by for years and years, and although it’s very familiar, it sure is stagnant. I want to feel challenged, and I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to love what I’m doing.

  • Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable, I have been in this place of limbo lately and reading this was encouraging to keep pressing forward because you never know what well be just ahead

  • Embarrassed? Banish that thought. Your post has had a positive effect on several – those who’ve commented already. But remember there are many more who are also marveling at your story, understanding that their life isn’t just a mess either. Those many more, for whatever reasons, won’t comment. Know that you’ve had a positive effect on them as well.

  • Thank-you for being so brave and sharing your story. It was actually a really big blessing to me, as I am currently trying to decide what to major in (acting is actually an option for me). Your story isn’t embarrassing, it’s triumphant! Thanks again for sharing your triumph. 🙂

  • This is so inspiring! I’m far from being “a success” but I’d like to think I’m not doing too bad. I definitely go through moments of doubts but I’m trying to remain positive and keep an open mind. I loved reading your story and what you learned along the way. Thank you for sharing!

  • Emma, thank you SO much for this. Today has been awful – for various reasons my job is starting to fall apart and I’m looking for other work. I have always wanted to work for myself and this was the year I was going to do it, so I was angry that my great employed job was now unstable and therefore I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to building a freelance career.

    So this post came at just the right time. Thank you for being so heartfelt. I am going to embrace a new job as an opportunity to learn more about myself, gain skills that will help me as a freelancer.

    I’ll go on working on my blog, learning all I can and hopefully this time next year I won’t feel such an abject failure. I cannot thank you enough for speaking to my heart today. xx

  • Hi Emma, this is a truly fantastic post. I am just about to graduate University & will be moving back home into my Parents and even though I know it is the best decision it does feel disheartening!

    Thank you for sharing your story. x

  • I read many popular blogs on various topics. But your blog inspires me and my sister on a lot. Most bloggers are copying each other in the pursuit of fashion, and you create a new and interesting. And the main thing in your blog you give good advice and share your thoughts. Become popular for 1 day is impossible. You make great job and get success. Thank you for your wise opinion, goods advice and cool ideas.

    Sincerely, Xenia and Anastasia

  • This post is so inspiring! It gives me hope and shows me that there are people like you and Elsie who have accomplished and are pursuing your dreams even though you didn’t know what to do in the beginning! So so inspiring for me being in a similar situation of not knowing what to pursue! Thank you so much!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I cannot lie there are some striking similarities from your story to my own. After living in LA for three years, I just moved back in with my parents. It is so amazing to hear how you found success in something you are passionate about!

  • I needed to read this today. With just starting a new business and taking a giant leap to pursue my own dream, I’m super encouraged to hear your story. Thank you so much for sharing, Emma! All the best to you!

  • I, like so many others I’m sure, feel like these are the perfect words I needed to hear right now. Thank you so much for being willing to share your story to encourage others, Emma!

  • I love this post. I’m really hoping to take my passions for running, fitness, fashion, and blogging, and becoming successful with it. I’ve always known that I could do it, but it’s really cool to hear stories like yours – you grew your thing with your sister, and now look at you! Hoping that I can be telling a story like this one day!

  • Thank you so much for this post- When I read what you said about “a failure” being just a label you give yourself- something clicked on in my head, and I felt better than I’ve felt in weeks! At least once a week I label myself a failure, because for the past 5 years, I’ve been floating around from college, to owning small creative businesses, to being in jobs that I hate, and now I’m back to freelancing. Nothing’s really “happened” for me yet- and I’m nearing the end of my 20’s. I can really relate to your story, and I love the fact that life can take us places we never even imagined were possible. It’s really important to remember that especially at the times we’re feeling un-inspired. Thanks for writing this post and inspiring us all once again! Oh- and congratulations on your million dollar year, I’m jelly 🙂

  • I absolutely love the honesty of this post, Emma. This particular line really resonated with me:

    “I studied philosophy simply because I loved it, and I had no idea what else to study.”

    When I explain to people why I studied History of Art, this is the only explanation that I can manage. Despite knowing I’d wouldn’t use my degree, I just loved learning about it.

    It’s so reassuring to know my dream and success are both out there somewhere, and that I’ll come to them in time (with hard work, of course). Thank you for the advice and for opening your heart to all us readers. We really appreciate it.

  • Hey Emma, I love this post. I love your blog. All the success you’ve had with ABM is well deserved. Thanks for being honest. And thanks for continuing to be so inspirational. You guys rule!

  • I just want to simply say Thank You for this post. It is perfect in every way and exactly what I needed to hear.

  • This is seriously the most real and important thing I have ever read on the internet. It is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I have just had to move back home with my Dad after living on my own for 3 years (besides college), and yes I feel like a failure all of the time, but I’m on a path to pursue what I am good at and what I know will make me happy, I already feel more connected to it. It was a big risk for me to give up the idea of Law School but going through a failed relationship and taking time to think about what matters to me has put me in the position to be brave and do what I want as a career, I have learned that truly its not about the money or what people will think its about what makes you happy. Point being thank you for this, it gives me the hope I need to stop the “pity parties” and keep going forward. You ladies could not be anymore inspiring 🙂

  • so encouraging and inspiring. thanks for being real about your life and where it has taken you. such freedom in the perspective you have.

  • I’ve been searching everywhere for these words Emma! Thank you for sharing to us your life. I am now in that “i don’t know what to do with myself” stage and I am very honestly scared to take a risk on really doing (and by doing, I mean knowing) what I really love because I am the breadwinner of the family. Drama aside, I know I will shine someday too. Not for everyone to see, but for me to know I have a fire within.
    xo kayce

  • Emma,
    Thanks for sharing. I am definitely still in the messiness of figuring out whats next, but it’s so encouraging to hear about lights at the end of the tunnel. You go girl- be proud of where you’ve been and where you’re going!

  • I love it when you write these personal posts, Emma! It’s great to get little glimpses of your story. Thanks for the encouragement. xx

  • Thank you for writing this, Emma. I really needed it. Been battling an existential crisis, but a lot of it plays out in career – the work I do every day, the way I spend the majority of my time. I know many people experience this, but it can feel so lonely. So hearing that you went through it, too, and came out victorious, and that it is ALWAYS a process – this is all encouraging, indeed.

  • This was really inspiring and exactly what I needed to read tonight – you have no idea how good your timing is. Thank you 🙂

  • Such an encouraging read! Really beneficial for girls like me who have recently decided to take a leap of faith and follow dreams.

  • THANK YOU for this post! Our stories are very similar – I too moved to Los Angeles, things didn’t go exactly as planned, and I moved back home with my parents. I took a few odd jobs and was VERY miserable. But, one of those odd jobs led to meeting my fiance, and I am now working at a good job. It’s not what I envision for myself long-term, but I agree that success isn’t always straightforward!

    Thank you for your honesty – this post helps me realize that I am not alone!

  • This post came at a perfect time for me! I am in my early 20s, working multiple part time jobs, but not really feeling fulfilled, and not sure what I want to do. I am definitely in that state where I don’t know what is next, but I’m trying to be open to anything and everything and see where it leads! Thanks for being an inspiration. 🙂

  • What a great post, thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to know other people struggle with discovering their dreams, too. Failure, although necessary to improvement, is a really hard thing to deal with, thanks for being brave enough to share your experience, it is very inspiring. 🙂

  • This is my favourite post ever on this blog. Sometimes it feels as if everything comes easy and goes perfect for you girls and its nice to know you have your struggles too. I have been a bit saddened by this blog starting to feel a bit commercial and unreal but now I’m back into it. You’re a sweetie. More stuff from the heart please! Xx

  • Thank you so much for this. I struggle every day with feeling like I’m mediocre at tons of things but not actually GOOD at any one thing … maybe I need to reevaluate 🙂 I definitely needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

  • Hi Emma,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. For the record, I’ve been following you from the very beginning of your food blog and I always loved that you had established your own voice outside of your sister. I still have some of those recipes from Food Coma saved in my bookmarks, not only because they were good recipes – but because I loved your tone and sense of humor. So, no, you’re certainly not “second shooter”! I just moved to L.A. to pursue comedy, which I did as a full-time paying career in Boston and was “living the dream” there. Since I had accomplished all my goals in Boston, I wanted to do it on a grander scale. But now that I’m in L.A. – I find myself caring less about succeeding in comedy. My sights aren’t set on what they used to be set on. Yes, I still want to study with The Groundlings and yes, I still want to do improv shows here and there and write funny sketches and do stupid bits with my friends. But I don’t want to be on “SNL” so much… and yes, I’d love to write for funny sitcoms and know that I would LOVE what I do. But when you said, “Dreams don’t have to die, but they do sometimes have to change. Embrace it.” It was like a dagger in my throat. (I’m dramatic.) Yes, yes, yes! I don’t have to do what I SAID I came out here to do just because I said it, I can do whatever I want! I can try to freelance for magazines, I can grow as a photographer/writer/actress/motivational speaker/ etc. I mean, damn, I can write a series of Young Adult novels about sexy bugs if I want! The path can change and that doesn’t mean I’ve failed. So, thanks for sharing because it’s inspiring to hear from someone who’s been on the other side of shifting priorities and focusing on being happy and living your dreams! You’re great.

  • I can’t even begin to describe how much of an inspiration both you and Elsie are to me. I’m a current college student and I’m constantly stressed out about getting internships, getting good grades, and making connections–all in the aim of getting 9-to-5 job that would leave me emotionally and creatively drained. When I found A Beautiful Mess last year, I realized that it is possible to create your own dream. For the first time I actually feel like I can do whatever I want with my life and I can do what I love. It’s so empowering. Thanks so much for being an inspiration and sharing your story. 🙂

  • Thanks for share your beautiful story. I had been reading your blog for a long time and enjoy every post because always there is something that inspires me. I just received your book and it’s amazing, I’m waiting for the next one!!
    Kisses from Barcelona!

  • It’s so comforting to hear that even those that seem to have it totally together, once struggled just like everyone else. Thank you for sharing!

  • Maybe my favorite post thus far on A Beautiful Mess. Thanks for sharing, Emma. My path is different from yours but similar in the sense that I always felt like I was in the shadow of my older sister (I wasn’t–we each had our own successes!). Now that we are both adults, we’re always looking for creative ways to collaborate. And much like you two, our strengths and weaknesses usually really compliment each other’s. Anyway, great post!

  • Inspiring, for sure! thank you for this, its just what I needed reminded of at this point in my life.

  • Emma- thank you for this amazing authentic post! So needed it out of all days! I will indeed carry with me so many of things you mentioned!

    In the last few years I feel like I have been living in the shadow of some pretty raw circumstances (my mothers and Stepfathers cancer and deaths way too young and my own recent divorce). I just feel so stuck, but still with this huge sense of urgency to live life to the fullest and pursue what I am passionate about.

    Thank you for spreading some hope by sharing! And know that your irreplaceable to a Beautiful Mess!

  • so thankful for this article, emma. just got turned down by my dream-company a few hours ago and been thinking about my strengths and “the right way to success” since then. perfect timing! (and far better then all the motivational quotes i just wrote down in my notebook!) all the best from cold austria and thanks for your amazing work in “übersee”, magdalena (also 24 – seems to be a tough year in all our lives!)

  • Thanks you for this piece of wisdom. I love that you are so positive and use your blog to empower ladies! ♥

  • Your perseverance and the many challenges you overcame definitely earned you bragging rights! Great story Emma, thanks for sharing.
    Xoxo Mazi

  • I really, really love this post, Emma! Sometimes I feel like a failure for changing course and stepping out on the corporate world to and spend time w/my son and start my own business. I love when you say that success is a process. I often have to remind myself that my dream looks different than what others value as success.

  • This is LITERALLY just what I needed to read. I am a college student, studying something that I have no idea if Ill even get a job in when I graduate. I am sincerely struggling with it although people tell me that they could never major in French. It kills me that Im not studying something Im obsessed with, yet I still have to power through. Thank you a million times over for posting this. I really needed this right now!

  • This was so inspiring, especially the “Success is a process, not an event or state of being”. That really struck a chord with me, thank you for this Emma. So happy that your guys’ business is doing so well!

  • I would just like to give you big hugs for writing and sharing this post. I cannot even fathom all the lives you touch and will affect with your honesty.

    In other news, I also wanted to say that being an avid reader of A Beautiful Mess for a couple years, I always got the impression you and Elsie were equals, co-bloggers, and neither held the reins. (And have the most amazing sister relationship.)

    I think you and Elsie should find a writer in your life to make a sitcom about two sisters who works together in the capacity the two of you do. Not reality tv, but a loosely-based-on-the-two-of-you sitcom. It’d totally be a New Girl meets FRIENDS meets Gilmore Girls for the thirty-something audience. 🙂

  • This is probably one of my favorite posts that I’ve seen on ABM. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and reminding us that success doesn’t always come easy, or even very naturally. It takes a lot of hard to work and risk taking to get to your place in life. It’s obvious that you are doing what you are meant to be – congratulations 🙂

  • such a lovely post Emma! these are the posts i appreciate most in the blog world. its easy to make your life look pretty much perfect through well-edited posts, but sharing the scary and uncertain parts of life with your readers, it’s special 🙂

  • You can’t imagine how much this post means to me at the moment. I’m right in the middle of a very difficult period and can’t help but feel like a failure while working slowly on putting my life back together. Thank you for your openess. 🙂

  • Beautiful Emma!. When I was 24 I wantend tot follow my father in his foodsteps and worked in the company for 5 years eventually I left when a new chairman came when my father retired. We didn’t get. Along. I left and had no clue what to do since that was my lifes purpose. I felt such a faillure. I became a photographer. Two more times I was at the point of going back to the family business and something came beween it. Then the company went bankrupt after being in the family for over 100 years. For 8 years it had impacted my career and then it was gone. Along the way new dreams came and in May my third book is being published, a cookbook, veggiekidz how to cook great vegitarian food for kids. So yes sometimes you have to change dreams and good things can come in place… Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve been in a pretty scary crisis point in my life since I’ll be graduating from university next year and still have no idea what I want to do. This post has calmed me down a bit and definitely made me think!

    You are an inspiration – never change your positive outlook on life!

    – Natalie
    http://www.couttiepie.blogspot.com [A Fashion and Lifestyle Blog]

  • Hi Emma, thank you for sharing your story… It is very encouraging and inspiring to me… I’ve been feeling like that for the past couple of months but I recently got 3 of my best friends to start a small creative business with. It never was my dream but I know that it is a good alternative. Thanks again

  • Thank you for this Text. Thank you for your honesty and your encouraging words. I really need this today. Thank you 🙂

  • I actually really needed to read something like this. I have been feeling like a failure after deciding to leave the art school I had been attending. Even though I know it in the back of my head, your post helped me see that life changes from the way you think it will end up and that it’s ok. Thank you!

  • I know others have said this, but this is something I needed to hear. Thanks.

    It’s been a little difficult locking down a summer job in my field. Failure is not something I’m used to, and right now it’s starting to feel like “they” are kicking me while I’m down. I know that my big opportunity will come eventually, and like you said, maybe my dreams need to shift a little in order to be more in-line with my own talents and skills.

    It’s nice to know that you’re not the only one who feels a little defeated at times, but there’s no point in wallowing, right?

  • Reading this post has been very inspiring to me!
    I am stuck in a job than don’t like and I’m very, very tired. But I’m afraid to quit, because nowadays it’s very difficult to find any job where I live, in Spain. I had always dreamt about being a great fashion editor. However, I work in a fashion shop.
    I started writting my own blog one month ago because if i can’t write for a magazine, I’m going to create my own online fashion magazine! Just to calm the anxiety…
    I’m very happy for you and your sister. Your work and all that you have created is amazing!
    Thank you for this post (and sorry for my english writting)!

  • Emma, this is perfect. I am in the middle of changing careers and becoming an Event Planner. While it is scary to know I am about to venture out and try and make something from nothing, I couldn’t be more excited. I know how you feel about being the “second shooter” because I am starting my business with my mom. But in the end, I know I wouldn’t want to have this challenge or experience with anyone else.

  • You have no idea how timely reading this is! oh funny little cosmic universe, how it presents you with exactly what you need to hear/read if you listen/click the link. <3

  • This was very inspiring for me. I am often discouraged before I even try things. This makes me feel better about trying and the possibility of failing. Because often times your failures lead you to greater things!

    Thanks for this reminder!

  • This is truly inspiring. I hope to one day find my success as you have. I know that with whatever adventure my journey takes me on, that I will be grateful for all the treasures that have come my way already.

  • Love reading this Emma!

    I emailed you waaaay back in 2010 (I think right after you’d moved back to Missouri) as I was a big fan of you and the rest of the Red Velvet Girls and had myself just moved to LA to pursue the music business. Being immediately overwhelmed and homesick, I emailed you inquiring about advice for living here and baking, of course! You totally replied too!! You made me feel less alone in this big crazy city. So thank you again for that!

  • Thank you so much for this. I went to college and I’ve had several different jobs but I’ve never really felt like anything was right. It has always felt off somehow. I’m really going to take a good look at what I’m good at and see if I can reorganize somehow. Congratulations on your success and thank you for inspiring me to find my own.

  • Emma! Wow you’re so cute. Thank you so much for writing this post. It is really encouraging. I’m nineteen, figuring out my first year of college. Life can be confusing sometimes and I have all these plans and dreams but sometimes don’t know exactly how to get to them, or how things are going to work out. It’s cool to hear from the other side 🙂

  • I live for inspirational stories like this and am constantly inspired by young 20 something and 30 something women making things happen! You, Elsie and a handful of other successful female business owners keep me motivated and determined not to give up on my own dreams. I doubt myself quite a bit, but it makes me feel a bit better to know that, that is a very human thing to do. I just have to figure out how to stop doing it. And your life in college reads something like mine, only I majored in Sociology. Keep it up, I love this blog and the people behind it!

  • What a wonderful post! It’s so interesting to read some of the stories “behind” you blog (and not at all embarrasing) – my favourite post so far…

  • Hi Emma. I know your sister but didn’t know the story of the two of you. So cool! I live with my sister, and we complement each other in that same way. We’ve been criticized for being too dependent on each other, but it’s just a public perception, not a reality. We are two different people.

    Reading this sounded very familiar. I’m so glad you found yourself in finding your way back to your roots. And I love the concept of the evolution of our dreams…we change, and our dreams grow with us! xoxo

  • Thank you for writing this! I really needed to hear this, as a co-owner of an art gallery with my husband but, the only full time “employee”. Sometimes I feel like I’m not chasing my dreams but, his.
    Even if the show ideas are mine, even if I have my own art in the shows a lot of the time. EVEN with our company being more successful since I’ve taken over being here full time! I still feel like I have to prove something to myself by doing something else that I don’t even know what that is! I feel like a crazy person sometimes. SO I really appreciate reading something like this randomly one day when I should be working harder 😉

  • Thank you so much for sharing your journey here Emma. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Your and Elsie’s story and blog are such an inspiration and encourage me to push harder everyday:-)

  • Wauw..! That was the most inspiring and honest blogpost I’ve read… ever! What you have done is VERY impressing! Even though the actress thing didn’t work out, it was very brave of you to move all the way to L.A. to pursue your dream – and that you have been building a shop up from the ground is just so cool. I gotta say, your story is a great inspiration for me! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  • Thank you for your bravery in sharing this story! It was exactly what I needed to hear today 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing something so beautiful with us. To be honest, I truly needed to hear(read) this today. I’ve always felt this way but was so ashamed and I felt alone. So many people around me succeeding in ways that I could never even dream up. You’ve inspired me to work harder, look deep within myself and keep a positive look at all events, good and bad. Thank you for all you’ve done for me personally over the years.


  • This is such a good post. Probs my favorite “life” post i’ve ever read on ABM. I’m going to school for graphic design and my dream would be sot start something similar to a beautiful mess. Holler if you ever need a designer 😉 haha.
    You go Emma! (Also the way you quite your posts on here and on instagram, you can definetely tell you’re a comedian!)



  • Your blog post came to me at the right time! Thank you for being candid with your personal life. I know it’s tough, but it’s amazing to see your growth and positive outlook on life.

    I quit my job 2.5 years ago to be a stay at home mom. To supplement our income I wanted to freelance write and design and eventually turn my client list into a boutique ad agency.

    It’s been a tough road. It took me months to get that first client. Plus, raising a family on 1.25 incomes is TOUGH. After all that time, I’m back to square one with just one client and not a lot of income. It’s frustrating. I hate being poor. I want to throw the towel in everyday and find full time work (even at a lower salary) just so we can build up our savings again (my oldest graduates HS in 4 years, so paying for college is on our brains).

    Why am I telling you all this? Because your post inspires me. It reminds me that I need to be patient and keep working towards my dream. Thank you.

    Here’s to not giving up!!

  • Such a beautifully honest post – I was having a similar conversation with my housemate about changing and honesty so this has hit home. Life is about taking risks, following your heart and saying SOD IT to expectations that other folk have for you. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • I absolutely loved this post. I too am familiar with having to dream new dreams so I get it. I just love how refreshingly honest you are, something that is often rare on the internet. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    I never thought of you as just the kid sis or the food blogger. I love what you bring to the table.

  • This is beautiful! I certainly don’t think of you as just the gal who cooks for the blog! You and Elsie both are the heartbeat of everything on this blog! This truly encourages me!! Thank you for sharing!

  • A lovely blog – thank you for your words of wisdom and the inspiration you girls give me everyday! Congrats on your million $ year!


  • Thanks Emma for this post! I’ve been going through much the same thing in the last two years: coming to terms with gradual changes in my life, realizing that one path that was once so important and fulfilling ceased to be the thing that excited me most. My new path may be far more humble, but it challenges, inspires, and brings light to my life everyday.

    So thanks for reminding me that I made the right choices to follow my happiness.

    All the best!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I am not going to lie… I have had a really rough day and this was exactly what I needed to read. I love this whole post but especially, “Dreams don’t have to die, but they do sometimes have to change. Embrace it.” I am a homeschooling mom to 4 young kiddos and I can get so lost in the mundane that I forget to pursue the beauty behind it all. I am living my dream but I have let myself lose sight of that in so many ways. Thank you so much for the reminder 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing Emma!! That’s such an important life lesson, that things you try and don’t work our are NOT failures, but experiences. It goes right along with not regretting choices we have made: if you hadn’t gone to LA for a while, maybe you would always wonder if you missed out?
    Now you know that you didn’t. I think it’s really important to live on your own for a while, to figure out who you are and aren’t.
    Beautiful post!!

  • As a Missouri resident I was shaken to the core by Hailey Owens’ abduction and subsequent death. I find this post in poor taste especially since you are a Springfeild resident. Why would you be bragging on your millions of readers and million dollar business when a little girl was just murdered in the town you live in on tuesday??? I am still shell shocked by it and I live 5 hours away from Springfield. As a daily reader of your blog I was confused when I did not see any news about it. I am aware her death has nothing to do with you, but I do feel like you are an influential member of your town that does have access to reach, like you said, MILLIONS of readers. I do think public condolences and support for her family would have been the least you could do. I understand this might be coming from way out in left field but as a Springfield resident and a person that might raise your own children in that town one day. I urge you to stop and take a moment for little Hailey, she definitely deserves it.

  • This is probably one of my favorite posts on this blog. Thank you for being so honest.. sometimes the blog world feels too perfect and it gets discouraging for all the rest of us.
    Congratulations to the two of you for being so successful and motivated! You and your sister are an inspiration!

  • I read your blog pretty much everyday (and have taken many recipes and DIY ideas from it), but this is the first time I have ever commented. Your story really, really spoke to me, and I think it was just the thing I needed to read right now. I moved back home with my mom last year, after living on the other side of the country for 6 years, pursuing my dream of becoming an academic. I am still working on figuring out how to be more flexible, and how to deal with seemingly “failing” or at least not having everything as figured out as other people. It’s so nice to read that other people have gone through the same thing, because everyone I know seems to have everything so together. Thank you for writing this, and sharing your story!

  • Thanks for sharing your story Emma. It’s so nice to come across such an honest and inspiring post. I like the idea of success being an ongoing thing and that there is no such thing as failure. It’s nice to be reminded of it every once in a while. Thank you!

  • Thanks so much for sharing, Emma. It’s so powerful to read your personal story of change.

  • I’d like to thank you wholly for sharing your story!! I’m a freshman in college who is going through a fast-paced and overwhelming period of my life. I’ve been feeling very defeated and discouraged, and it means the world to be reminded of the world and opportunities that exist beyond my daily struggles. People like you who have endured and worked hard and took life by the horns are so important in inspiring girls like me!

    Samantha x

  • this was the most beautiful post. you’ve inspired me since i discovered your blog because of your personal stories of perseverance and making dreams a reality. thank you, thank you, thank you. congratulations on all of your accomplishments!

  • Absolutely spot-on what I needed to hear today. It is amazing to read such an honest bit of writing from someone unknown personally but still a daily influence in my little life. Thank you so much Emma!

  • Thank you for sharing your story with us! I know it must have taken courage but I thank you for it! Brought tears to my eyes because I can relate!


  • Thanks Emma! It’s hard to keep going, but gosh you’re inspirational (I’m a huge dork, and think you’re awesomely cool).:)

  • Lovely. I am always afraid to play the “second shooter” and sometimes it’s just so exhausting to compare yourself with the others. Thanks for inspiring article!

  • Lovely. I am always afraid to play the “second shooter” and sometimes it’s just so exhausting to compare yourself with the others. Thanks for inspiring article!

  • Thankyou for writing this wonderful, inspiring, honest post Emma.
    It’s great to read about your success story. I worry alot about my future as a freelance Illustrator. It’s a tough industry but I’m prepared for the ups and downs and to be brave!

  • What an inspirational post, Emma. I really needed this right now. This summer, I’ll be abandoning the job I set myself up for in college to follow my real dreams: writing and art. I appreciate your advice so very much and love how honestly you wrote. Disappointment does have a way of blossoming into something beautiful and taking you down unexpected paths where the best things wait for you at the end (even if it doesn’t feel like it during the journey). Thank you so much for this beautiful, genuine entry.

  • This post could not have come at a better time! This totally spoke to me and what I have been feeling lately with my office work, using my degree and feeling like I have to use my degree or I will have “failed”. I struggle so much between being creative or intellectual and have such a hard time finding a path that will incorporate them both together.
    I love what you said about not passing up opportunities that look mundane. This was just perfect. Thank you for posting such an open and honest insight into your personal journey. This was totally needed and much appreciated.

    xoxo. LP

  • This is so awesome, Emma. I’m turning 27 in April, which has always been the age I’ve envisioned I’d truly be an adult. And I’m moving back home this year. So what does that mean, right!? But a little reminder that not having it all figured out from a stranger-that-you-feel-like-you-know is what I needed. Thanks for your bravery!

    Hilariously, I came on the site today to find one of your doughnut recipes. Thanks for the inspiration, life-wise, and treats-wise! : )

  • This is so inspirational and really what I needed right now. I’m currently in college for the same reasons you went and I still have no clue what I want to do, but this just helped reasure me that everything will fall into place. Thank you so much Emma!

  • What a great blog post! Very inspiring. I certainly have had times in my life where my goals and dreams changed and I thought it was the end of the world but it’s not. It’s just another time to learn and grow. Thanks Emma for the words of wisdom and for sharing!

  • I was just randomly searching blogs & sort of stumbled across this post. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m currently finishing up my 7th year of grad school (yea, be jealous, right?–I’ll graduate at the end of this year) and am considering making a drastic career change. So far I’ve only casually mentioned this to two people (both of whom were immensely supportive). There are about a million things running through my brain lately, but it’s good to hear that other people have been there and lived to tell the tale. Thanks for this. It was exactly what I needed today!!

  • Thank you so much Emma. I’m still in the ‘what the hell am I doing?’ stage of my life. I don’t know where life will take me, but you’ve shown me that that’s ok! I hope that one day I get to be half as successful as you


  • I’m 22 and lost as ever. Thanks for making me feel like this is only the beginning!

  • I really needed to read this right now. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and thinking I may not get to where I want to, but you’ve inspired me to keep tracking on, be patient, and not let go of my aspirations. Thank you!

  • SO, so inspiring. I’m at that stage in my life right now, where I don’t really know what will come next, but remembering things like moving with the “flow of life” really helps me to believe that great things will come. Thank you.

  • I really needed to read something like this. I’ve been unemployed for three years (with random freelance jobs) and have applied for over 50 jobs with not even one interview call. I’m trying to make it as a surface pattern designer in a country that has almost zero market for what I do, and the companies abroad aren’t interested in licensing my work. I’m so lost and have no idea which way to go, and on top of that my confidence in my work is close to zero, since I’ve only received “no” when trying to sell my patterns. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one, reading your post I realized that, at some point, things will have to change, and I’ll start to pay more attention to non-obvious opportunities. People around me keep saying I should start my own business but I’m so afraid of asking my mum for a loan and not making profits and never being able to pay her back. What’s up with this fear we have? I don’t remember feeling like this in high school or during my university years.

  • Thank you. You probably don’t remember, but I emailed you a few months back with some tech-y questions, and as usual the information you provided was both helpful and encouraging.

    I have wanted to be a writer since the fifth grade. I currently work in PR and writing is a big part of my job but my dream is run my own blog/business much like you and Elsie and be a published author some day. It is so encouraging to hear your stories and watch your business grow and thrive.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it.
    I feel like a failure too, at the moment. But your post opened my eyes.

    Love to read your posts!

  • What a wonderful post. I’ve been reading this blog for years and I remember when you came to work at the blog with Elsie. You both clearly make a great team and love working together. X

  • Thank you, thank you, THANK you for writing this. I know I was rooting for you ever since I started reading this blog. Coming from a nerdy-bookworm-teenage girl – you seem like an everyday hero. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing this Emma! Its so encouraging to read your side of this beautiful story… So proud of the ABM team and so excited to see where the next few years take you guys!

  • Dang girl… So needed to read this. It’s always encouraging to read other people’s stories of success and bumps hit along the way. Thank you, thank you for sharing!!

    Blessings- and congrats on a million dollar year! Woot woot. 😉

  • What an inspirational posts! After looking for a job for over two years and finally finding one I know what failure feels like but am also thankful for this rough period in my life. It’s unbelievable how you managed to get up on your feet again. Be proud of yourself! Thanks for sharing.

  • Emma, this post was truly wonderful to read. Thank you for being so open and honest. There is so much truth in what you said, and it’s inspiring to hear it coming from someone who has been an inspiration to me! Cheers to you and your amazing journey!


  • wow, i think this post kinda pierced through my heart. you’ve grown on me emma, like the taste for wine or onions.
    i finished college a year ago, had some crappy jobs, tried to start several projects on my own (all failed for different reasons), and my mood and my spirit at this point are kind of below zero.
    i’ve done all by the book, still going to job interviews, at this point I feel like i have no more selfsteem left, no more joy to hold on to, no more dreams to fight for.
    well, long story short, there are days that are much harder than others, and though i try to stay possitive and try to go with the oportunities that present into my life, i just can’t catch a break.

    thanks for sharing 🙂 is certainly good to know that somehow, brighter days will come.

    Branah from Chile 🙂

  • So inspiring. This is the first thing I have read from your blog and it shot me through the heart. Right place at the right time. I am going through a similar but different situation of starting something new and your key points are so true! Thank you for sharing.

  • I’m very new to this blog, but you have already impressed and inspired me. Thank you so much for sharing that story!

  • Dear Emma,

    First of all: thank you for this post, congratulation on your married and on the first million dollar`s in 2013!

    I think your post will inspire a lot of people and give them confidence and power to go ahead in order to (likewise) reach their goals. That’s great and more “successful people” should act in that way and declare their personal “how to”!

    But to be honest, first of all I would like to mention that people maybe will ignore your truthful words regarding the “hard way” to success and will fail.

    But this point is very important for creating a successful business anyhow. I had 14-16 hours working day`s for a very loooong period before I became “successful”. But I (even at this time) never regret spending so much time and energy for this business, because I loved it! This point you should have stated out clearer.

    And you have to get opportunities in life, as you had by your chance encounter with Elsie.

    Last important point is the personality because (I believe) that not everyone is made for self-dependence.

    I really enjoy reading your post and it`s a great idea of sharing “way`s to success” like this.

    I understand your notes between the lines and hopefully your audience will understand this too and become as successful as you and Elsie!

    All the best for you, Elsie and your team!


    PS: Hopefully you understood my weak phrasing, but English is not my mother tongue.
    PPS: I will not post the number of millions we made last year ;0)

  • Wow. Thank you for your honesty. From my side of the screen, your life always seemed easy and perfect with the greatest outfits to go with it!

  • This is such an amazing post. I am exactly at this “fail” situation the last 1,5-2 years.. I’m almost 24,I moved back to my parents’ 2 years ago, before finishing university and now (luckily and at last!) I have my last 5 lessons to graduate. The unemployment rate is so big here, I can’t find a job that would allow me to live on my own, I hate being so poor and having to ask my parents for money, it’s a little embarrasing at this age. I think that I would do any job to make a living, but I love my job (I work freelance whenever there are clients) and I want to work on it and improve my skills. All the young people in my country are leaving abroad, I believe I should try my luck here first, but thinking that web designers get paid up to 5000€ monthly and I would get at-the-very-maximum 900€ is frustrating. I’m not greedy of course, it’s that everything seems discouraging, you work 10hours a day for 500€ and you can never leave your parents’ house, let alone move on with your life.

  • This is a really great post! So much insight, and I love the reassurance that you can still end up doing what you love, even if you don’t love what you’re doing right now.

  • This was a wonderful piece and very inspiring for someone, like myself, about to graduate college in the arts. It sounds like Elise wouldn’t be where she is without you as well. You guys make a wonderful team and I am so glad to hear Beautiful Mess is so successful. I would be interested to Elise’s story and all your new wonderful employees experiences as well. Thank you!

  • This was a great article.I think at times what I´m doing is right or wrong.It´s really inspirational .I´m still studying but at times I still have questions about how life will turn out to be.

  • Emma, I never comment on this blog, but I’ve been reading for a few years now. I want to thank you for this. I live in Brooklyn and graduate college in less than three months. All the plans I thought I had in order to follow graduation have changed, but for some odd reason I feel I need to hold on to them, and do them anyways because I once said I would. People say “but you said you would do that…”, but that doesn’t mean I have to. Life changes, people change, plans change. And I thank you for reassuring me that that’s true.

  • wonderful advice (i am facing the same dilemas myself at the moment) and so lucky that you have a sister to share it with and work with!

  • Such a great post.

    My story has taken me from house-sitting to personal assistant to non-profit worker to religious education work to cancer researcher assistant to freelance editor and writing instructor -and a few other things in between. Oh, and the journey is far from over.

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement to celebrate the ‘now’.

  • So, so true and so encouraging. Thank you for sharing your story because I’ve never thought of you as anything less than very talented, creative and successful.

  • Thanks for this. I’m at the almost finishing uni, don’t really know what I could do with what I’ve studied don’t know what to do with my life stage! this gives me hope! I love reading your recipes and you’ve inspired me to even try some and I very rarely cook!

  • I’ve been following your blog for about a year, and although I rarely comment, I’m always inspired about the way you guys have turned this blog into such a successful business. This post really hit me on a personal level, and I thank you for that reality check that success comes slowly and it’s okay to struggle. Nice to feel like I’m not the only one. Thank you!

  • I’ll be graduating college with a degree in marketing in a few months and would be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out about what will happen next and how to get to the place I want to be. I needed this today. Thank you for sharing this with us. You (and the entire A Beautiful Mess team) are such an inspiration!

  • Hola Emma,

    I´m a huge fan of you and A beautiful Mess from Spain!

    My english is so bad to express my all feeling after reading this article :_
    I just want to say thank you to share your story here and i´m very moved from this article! I´m here in spain(i moved from south korea before 3 years ago) to figure out about myself but it´s not easy at all…:_ and really i needed some real ¨Hiling Story ¨ like this to come over my weekness and negative things! I´m gonna read again and again this artical when i feel falling down!

    ¨No matter where you are in life, I already know one thing about you: You are not a failure. Even if you’re feeling like one lately, please know I’ve been right there with you. I believe in you. You should believe in yourself.¨

    Thank you and i wish best for you!

  • This is incredibly timely for me. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been slowly giving up on a huge dream of being a musician/songwriter. It requires an insane amount of commitment and drive and while I love music, I think it’s better to stick to as a hobby than a career. I’ve recently discovered new dreams of getting into design. I’m looking into going back to school for interior design, but I’m now starting to focus in on photo styling. I’m SO overwhelmed and have no clue where to start, really. This definitely spoke to me. It’s okay to refocus and change directions. It’s not always easy, but it can lead to something beautiful.

  • Wow, thank you Emma for such an inspiring story that you’re willing to share with us. I definitely need something like this because I’m getting old and I feel like I haven’t achieved anything yet and still lost in this world.

  • Thank you for posting this 🙂 Am currently in the middle of an internship I’m not enjoying, and worrying about what to do with the rest of my life now Plan A isn’t working. This is inspiring!! Thank you xx

  • Great post. I love your words of encouragement and honesty. I took a similar cliche leap this year and have no regrets. Life is meant to be lived, not planned 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences! I love that you posted this and we are able to see a bit more into your life! I have loved watching you and your sister transform for the last couple years and it is so encouraging to see the whole story laid out from your perspective! Thank you.

  • Totally 100% needed this today. My dreams are a’changing day by day, and I’m learning to embrace each little unexpected moment (though not always gracefully). Thanks for being really inspirational. You definitely just got yourself another reader.

  • This is a really great post – well done (and thank you) for writing it.
    I think it’s really important to reflect on where we’ve come from and all the things we’ve learnt along the way.
    It was inspiring to read, even if it wasn’t intended to be.

  • This is a very inspiring post for me, I just pass 2 months looking for a new job and really felt like I was a “looser” or a failure as you say. But that made me understand that life is not simple and I should believe more in myself !
    PS : french people love your blog 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this, its so helpful to hear other people going through stuff like this, and seeing that they’ve managed to turn it around. I finished university a few months ago, and ever since I’ve felt lost with what to do with my career, but your post has given me inspiration to know that it will be ok in the end, and I’ll figure it out eventually. Thanks so much xxx

  • This was so inspirational and I really enjoyed hearing a little bit more about your background! I’m a junior in college and am about to have to start making those really hard decisions. Do I go to grad school, law school, or start looking for a job? If I do start looking for a job should I look for something in my college town, out of state, or should move back home? It’s frustrating and scary and it’s really hard to plan for. Thanks for this post, so much! Also, congrats on all of y’all’s success!


  • This was very insightful~ and well timed cause I really needed to read this~ Thanks for sharing~ we sometimes get so easily discouraged, we don’t see the blessing in some failures.

  • Thank you so much for sharing about this difficult part of your life!
    It really gives an impression of how much you have grown as a person, and it’s for posts like this that I love this blog even more!

  • This is perfect. So honest and inspiring. I really needed to read this right now. Thank you, so much, for sharing. And all the best with everything you have yet to set your hands to. I have no doubt it will be sensational.

  • Just what I needed to hear this week. I’m trying to embrace a possible change in my life, but I’m scared and unsure. Thanks for sharing your story! Inspiration is always needed!

  • Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story, Emma! I feel a little bit better knowing you were in a similar place that I am in now, and that it takes time, patience, and a lot of courage to actually go after your dream. You and Elsie are such an inspiration!

    xoxo- Kim

  • Emma,

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    I find I am always comparing my successes (or lackthereof) to those around me. I feel like I’m never far enough along or going in the right direction, or have enough talent to actually achieve my dreams.

    I’m 25 and I feel like I’m so far behind. Living in New York City and seeing the stark contrast between the “successful” and the “not successful” is hard. I’m a country girl, I’m from a small pond!

    Anyway. I found this really uplifting and encouraging.

    Congratulations on all of your success and, I guess, the failures that got you there 🙂


  • This is so inspiring and exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for sharing!!! Your bravery is appreciated.

  • i am not sure if i have ever commented on your blog. i have followed it for some time now and love it so much. you and elise are just the cutest sisters. the type of relationship i wish i had with my own sister.

    i just want to say thank you.
    i think i had my life planned out long ago and now about to go on 27, nothing went as i suspected. but that doesn’t mean it has all been bad. my experiences have taught me a lot. & that sometimes we have to take risks, which may mean leaving something behind that we thought we were suppose to do.

    i appreciate you being open with your readers.
    it was extremely encouraging.

    much love,

  • Hi Emma,

    Thank you for this post! A few months out of college, I’m struggling to find motivation to look for a job because I don’t even know what the heck I can do/would be good at. It’s a great reminder to hear all of this!

  • Emma, thank you for sharing this. I really need this now because this is exactly what I’m feeling at the moment. I may not have earned my 1st million yet, i had a successful handmade invitation for quite some time but i felt I needed to grow…to evolve and pursue my other dreams. Thanks for teaching us the definition of success…so damn right. And the labels…yes, its been my nemesis and maybe that’s why I keep going back and forth asking myself if what I did in the past was right. Thank you for sharing. I’m happy to see where you are now. I hope someday, in the near future, I will be able to tell my journey as well and I will always remember you for that. Xoxo

  • This really speaks to me, I’d love to hear Elsie tell her story as well. My Etsy shop is growing leaps and bounds (I’m blessed and grateful) – but I’m seriously overwhelmed. I need an “Emma” in my life really badly, but am afraid of taking those steps. Failing yourself is one thing, but failing someone else who decides to take a chance on your vision, is completely another. It’s nice to hear, that those I look to for inspiration, were shakin’ in their boots at one point too!

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s an ongoing, ever-changing process. Nice post.

  • You should not be embarrassed at the things you’ve accomplished and the journey in which you took to get there! What an incredible and inspiring tale. Thank you for sharing! I blog (for myself mostly) but it’s starting to really go somewhere, and work as an irish dance teacher (full time really, but part time) and i have an office job with corporate america which is totally soul sucking. I hope that some day the dancing school or my blog takes off with all the hard work put in

    xo, Nina

  • I love this. So inspiring. Fresh. I’ve always felt that the final year in high school, when you have to decide who you want to be, is so ridiculous. I think for most people it takes the entire 20’s (and sometimes well into your 30’s) to finally find yourself exactly where you want to be, where you were meant to be. Thank you for the encouragement, Emma!

  • This post could not have come at a more opportune time for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Thank you for sharing! It’s so encouraging to hear other people’s stories, especially in the midst of searching for your path.

  • I’ve been a reader of ABM for almost 4 years now! I’ve seen the evolution, and when I found out both you and Elsie were abandoning your separate personal blogs to collaborate fully on this blog, I was disappointed. Something that has always made ABM a daily read for me is how connected and encouraged I felt by the personal posts. Vulnerability is such a rare quality in people, let alone one that translates well through the blogosphere. But it’s when you let down your guard and share with us readers that we feel most connected to you gals. I teared up reading this mostly because I can relate, especially to living in the shadow of an older sister’s accomplishments, but also because unflinching honesty is so special. Thank-you, Emma. xoxo

  • Amazingly timed. Thanks for sharing. I am quite a few years older than you and still looking for my success and happiness. Good to hear it happens even when struggle and doubt are sometimes present.

  • Thanks for sharing your story! So great to hear personal stories once in a while to realize we’re all on the same ground, and it doesn’t hurt to change. Loved reading this! As a current college student with no real future plans this has really inspired me not to give up or get down on myself.

  • Emma, thanks for sharing. When we´re young we are not always sure what we want to be. We want something glamourous. Then real life hits us and we find happiness in a grown-up job that you never imagined. Or sometimes it´s the other way around. You just have to bem opne, like you said.

  • Thank you for sharing this! Your words made me cry and they made me feel better about myself. I love what you said about failure is a label we give ourselves. So true. Congratulations and know that you (and Elsie!) are a big inspiration to me and so many others! Cheers!

  • Sarah’s photographs are stunning Emma! This is a great post, a bunch of FB friend reposted and i didnt even know they were ABM fans! they were hiding in the woodwork 🙂 Watching you guys is like looking into a tornado, scary and amazing. It feels like I get to be along for the ride with personal posts like these. Y’all are the best babes. <3

  • Emma, thank you so much for this encouraging post! I have started (and quit) some careers myself and am still quite desperate to find the REAL thing for me. So far I didn´t have the courage to start my own business, but I think it might really be about time… I wish I had more courage! Your honest words about your amazing career has really made my day! Congrats!

  • You both are truly inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love seeing new posts from ABM and I wish you both even more success!

  • This post reopened tender wounds, thank you for writing such an honest post. I know it’s awfully nerve-wracking to be so open on the internet, but you touched this heart of mine. Thank you!

  • Hands down my favorite post on ABM! Thanks for being real. So many in our generation can relate to what you wrote. The best takeaway for me was to go with the flow of life and the opportunities that are presenting themselves. Wouldn’t mind seeing more posts like these! Thanks!

  • I was overwhelmed with emotion upon reading this. I want to say so much. I’m afraid, though, if I try to verbalize my gratitude it may turn into a novel. Thus, I leave you these words from the very depths of my soul: Thank You.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I just recently graduated from college. Although I’m blessed to have a full time job, I hate it. I have no creative outlet and I’m not doing anything related to my skills. I constantly feel undervalued and underchallenged and I have felt like a huge failure lately not being able to find a job that I love . This was a nice reminder to stay patient and persistent. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for posting this Emma and getting so personal. I’ve been reading for years but usually don’t comment. This post really hit home. I’m at a big crossroads in my life, trying to figure out what I should do with college, if I should change my major, and what to do afterwards. I’ve never felt more stressed or confused. It was really interesting to hear your career journey and read your advice too. Congrats on your huge success and best of luck with your future endeavors!

  • Such a powerful post. There are days where I feel like I can conquer the world and there are days where I just want to curl up into a ball and wave that white flag. Thank you for sharing this, you’re an inspiration

  • Thank you so much Emma for this post. It kind of feels good that you’re not perfect(I’m really sorry to say that…^^)and that what you are today is an addition of good and bad things that happened to you. I’m feeling lost right now and I feel too old to be lost, oh yeah, I’m 30! and still don’t know what to do with my life, I’m in love with way too many things and don’t know what to choose. Thank you for this post, it gives me hope that one day, I’ll find my way.And thank you for this blog, this is my little bit of sunshine and inspiration everyday.It inspires me to do things everyday instead of thinking about the way to do things(oh yeah, I’m a complicated gal!)Anyway, just thank you!

  • This is by far the best post on this blog to date. Very honest and a great story. Thank you for this. You’re all doing wonderful work and I strive to be like you all.

  • This is just what I needed today. I was feeling pretty down about my job and not knowing what I want to do with my life, but now I know that I’m really not the only one who try’s and tests different paths before (hopefully) finding the right one! I love your site and congrats on all you’ve achieved so far. It’s much deserved! Can’t wait to see what ABM has in store for us in 2014!

    Chrissy xx

  • This was very therapeutic to read! Thank you for writing. I can relate and currently (and for awhile) have been feeling a little lost, and this was very inspiring.

  • Emma, thank you for sharing this. This past August I moved back home, and it has been anything but easy to be back here. It hasn’t been easy in the sense that it doesn’t feel like home anymore and I have yet to find a job. I’ll be turning 25 next week, and that has brought me endless thoughts on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I know that things will happen in their own time, but it’s really easy to get swept up in your own personal pity party when things don’t seem to be going your way. Thanks for sharing your own personal story and letting us know that we are not alone in feeling this. Seriously, thank you. (Loving the haircut!) 🙂

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story so openly and honestly Emma – this was something I really needed to hear at the moment. It’s given me hope – thank you!!

  • I’ve been a reader for a long time and have never commented before but today I just had to. I am right in that place where I am still trying to figure it all out and this is just so very timely in my life. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • This post reaffirms why I continue to visit your blog 🙂 You and Elsie are always so brave to share little and big (like this one!) tidbits of your personal lives for many of us to read and relate to. The creativity on A Beautiful Mess also inspires me day in and day out. You girls and the rest of the team just rock! <3 Thank you so much for your honesty and enthusiasm for life.

  • thank you for sharing this. if you were looking for someone who needed to hear it, well that was me. you are all kinds of amazing. x

  • This is such an inspiring, awesome post! Thank you for sharing the good and the bad in your journey — it definitely makes me feel more relaxed (and even excited!) about the weird twists and turns life can take. I’m sure you’ll have so many more amazing things happen in the future. 🙂

  • Hello Emma, it is my first time here…comment in your blog 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your life, is very inspiring for me because I am starting my blog as a way to reinvent my life!!

    Lots of success 🙂


  • Thank you, Emma, for bravely sharing your amazing journey. It’s been really awesome to watch the blog grow over the course of the years and see you sharing more of yourself and personality. ABM has always been one of my favorite spots to go to for inspiration, and it’s important to understand that success like this takes time to develop. It’s hard to see that sometimes. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • It is so hard being honest about your past and your current circumstances. Thanks for doing both. Pride in success can be such an internal struggle, but hard and confusing work has paid off and it offers such an encouragement for me in our current business endeavors and the struggles (financially and relationally) that come along with that.

    Thanks Emma

  • I simply love A Beautiful Mess. I am so thankful you are there! I never comment on blogs, though I read them quite a bit. I am in the exact spot you were right before you decided to move home, except I’ve been in that spot now for almost a year. The decision to change my dreams is coming up again soon and I just feel a little nervous and not so brave. Thank you thank you for writing this! 🙂 It’s definitely given me some hope and some courage.

  • This post was so helpful for me today, thank you! I’m really working at rebranding my shop (I sell prints and cards on etsy) and there are days I ask myself if all the effort is worth it when I barely make sales in the meantime. I love what I do; but some days I feel like a failure. Or,to put it differently, I sometimes feel like a kid picked last in gym class. I balance being a mother and wife with being an artist and it’s an ever-evolving journey. But, I love what I do so I roll with it! I have decided to keep having faith in what I create and know that I have to be proud of myself for putting myself out there.

  • Okay…I love everything y’all do so much, but this is EASILY my favorite thing you’ve ever posted. This really spoke to me and I know it can’t have been easy to write. I think everyone feels like this at some point but there is all this pressure to pretend like everything is perfect all the time. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and giving people hope!

  • Apparently 24 is a tough year for many. These post college career searching years can be tough. I really needed to read this. Great post.

  • I think this hit home big time. I had just finished having the longest talk about dreams and where life is taking me with one of my friends when I opened the computer and read this. I applaud your bravery , cause sometimes it takes more courage to admit that something isn’t working than pursuing what you (think) want.

  • Thank you Emma! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Hearing your honesty hit so close to home today. You are an inspiration and this post is exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life and career.

    Thank you! xoxo

  • Thank you for sharing Emma. I so needed to hear this today. I’m feeling pretty lost and don’t know how to create that life that I’m after. I’m going to take your advice and go with the flow. I’ll get there. I hope!

  • You are stellar. It’s never easy to admit ‘failures’ and be vulnerable, but you’ve done so beautifully. Thank you for sharing this. You inspire me to keep pushing towards my dreams and keep moving. Recently, I feel super stuck. Everywhere I turn seems to be a bit of a failure and it’s exhausting. But, you give me hope that it’s all part of the plan and it’s all leading to a positive, happy place.

    Thank you for that.
    xx. Jillian

  • Thank you so much for your honesty and sharing your wisdom. I am currently at a crossroad and this has truly inspired me. Perfect timing.

  • As a 28 year-old who is currently going through a crazy life and career change, I appreciate the honesty and life lessons that you shared with all of us. Every life lesson is definitely spot on especially #3 and #4.

  • I think you girls are so inspiring and it’s been wonderful seeing your business take off over the years. I remembering being genuinely happy when you guys started hiring people, and especially when you bought the studio house – as if you were my friends. 🙂 So often a blogger’s life can come off as “perfect”, which makes this post so appreciated. Congrats! You should be very proud!

  • Great post! I “fail” all the time but I also learn all the time.

    Off topic: please tell me where you got that pink lipstick. 🙂

  • Emma, thank you so much for this post!! I’m 21 now, and I’ve been following you guys since I was in high school. It always seemed like you girls had your stuff so together so its really nice to read something like this…to be honest, I even teared up a bit. I’m graduating from college next year with a BFA in fine arts and right now I have pretty much no idea what I’m doing. It’s a really scary place to be in, so it was perfect timing to read this from someone on the other side. Here’s hoping I actually get to where you are some day! Well, I don’t think I’ll be co-owner of a million dollar business, but, you know 😉

  • Thank you so much for being so vulnerable! I feel like this is exactly where I’m at in life, feeling like I’m not doing at all what I thought I would and feeling like a failure because of it. I’m definitely in the midst of figuring out my direction, and it’s so encouraging to hear stories of people who went through this and have now found something they love to do and are good at.

  • so inspiring. it’s always nice to stop and take a deep breath and realize that things are going to be okay. thank you for the reminder! 🙂

  • I have been a sporadic reader of A Beautiful Mess starting when Elsie designed scrapbooking products. I enjoy checking in and seeing how the blog has evolved and grown. I am glad to learn more about Emma’s background and contributions.

    I work as an academic advisor at a university with undeclared students and students changing their majors. I often find myself explaining that their majors will not necessarily equal their careers. I value reading success stories about how careers evolve and can share the ideas with students. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Emma!

  • Thank you so much for this. I went to school for 8 years, I have a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree. Less than a year into my “career” and I’m having the hardest doubts. I can totally empathize with feeling like a failure and being embarrassed to admit that what I thought I wanted to do at 18 is not in fact anything near what I see and dream for myself or my family for the rest of my life. So again thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  • This is really wonderful to read… I am over half way done with my third year of teaching and I have had a rough year… I don’t know if I am to the point of starting over, but I like that your first point was to stop feeling like a failure! <3

  • Wow Emma, this is one of my favorite posts I’ve ever read on this blog. You are an example of someone passionate and persevering. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us 🙂

  • Thanks for such an inspiring blog post. I recently started my food and lifestyle blog as a creative outlet and hope to inspire others in this process as well. Looking forward to more posts from you! =)

  • It is unreal how much I can relate to this. I always thought music was my thing. I pushed it and pushed it on myself until I completely collapsed. I knew it didn’t feel right to continue pushing this dream, but I felt like if I switched dreams it would be because I was weak, didn’t try as hard as others, and was ultimately a failure. Now, I still love music, and I do a lot with it in my free time. But, now I am currently pursuing interior design and am so excited for my future. Letting go of what I thought I should be and actually just truly listening to myself has allowed me to feel the most free I have ever felt. Thanks for posting, Emma!

  • I definitely needed to hear this today! Thank you for sharing your story. It is very hard to have the courage to walk away from something you thought was your dream. I am in that stage of my journey and it is nice to hear a honest success story. Congrats to you on your success!

  • Holy smokes. Thank you a million times over for sharing this, and especially today! I admire your honesty and bravery. You have taken some pretty big chances! I often felt “bleh” about my degree in fine art since I lived in northeastern Arkansas and currently reside in MO. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but it also just felt like the thing to do. I know now that there was really no other path for me. I haven’t hit it big, and I may never do that to most standards. I work in a small town bakery as a decorator, and I just started my etsy shop selling prints. I often struggle with the idea of being “successful”, but I am happy now knowing that I have tons of opportunities and the ability to do a variety of things because of my prior experiences and skills that I learned along the unpredictable way. So while this was definitely not the path I chose, I am enjoying finding out where it is heading!

  • Emma this is so beautifully put. I appreciate your honesty. You are incredibly inspiring! I’m at a crossroads now and I need to decide whether to pursue my dream (and risk financial hardship) or hold onto a well paying job that is not fulfilling. This may be the push I needed… It’s probably time to take a chance on something great and put myself out there. I fear that if I don’t, I’ll always wonder, “what if?”
    Marissa of likeyouimagined.com

  • This was absolutely lovely! I’m at a major time in my life (graduating from college) and I’m having a lot of trouble thinking about what I’m going to do as my “next step.” This couldn’t have come at a better time! I already had the mindset of a lot of your tips, but just hearing it from someone else makes me feel really good. Thank you!


  • Thanks for sharing this! It has helped me realize that life has a funny way of working things out.It isn’t a failure to try other options when others don’t work out. This post has helped me be happy with those events.

  • Thanks for sharing this. This is the reason why I always go back to this blog. It is the blog I read first thing in the morning. Keep up your amazing work.

  • You run a lovely business that is full of great ideas and it’s clear your spirit is in it. It takes courage to open up and share struggles but it’s the best way to help people. I’m glad I stumbled onto this post and thank you for writing it.

  • When looking at websites like yours its so easy to compare. sooo easy. I needed this. And I may come back to read it. I get so frustrated sometimes because I know what I want [a LOT] and I hate it when my blog design doesnt reflect myself or that I’m stuck in my house and haven’t traveled yet. It’s silly how hard I am on myself. I guess we all are. Thank you again for sharing!

  • Oh wow! I’m so happy you shared this today, it’s exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear. I get these big ideas for my life and end up telling myself that “I’m kidding myself if I think I will ever be able to do _______”. This is so encouraging and from the bottom of my heart-thank you for sharing it!

  • Wow, that was beautiful. Thanks 4 your transparency. It is interesting the perspective we have of ourselves versus others perspectives of us. I remember casual references to your acting pursuits and perceived you as brave. It’s not wrong to investigate a dream. The culture often sets us up to fail w such rigid expectations. I was formerly perceived as a success, and now I am thankful for the opportunity and courage to walk away from all that. Now I perceive a success as someone who walks true to who she was brought here on Earth to be. Then u live for an audience of one.

  • Such a wonderful post! After a divorce, career change, and a recent engagement – the fiance and I ended up moving back in with my parents for the time being. I have definitely gone through that “failure” stage, and still feel it at times. But this post helped me to look up today. I always seem to find the right posts at the right time. Thank you.

  • Really appreciate you sharing this. I’m having “one of those years” myself and reading this tonight (which oddly found me two different ways…meant to be I think) certainly gives me a little breathing room between me and the fears and doubts. 🙂

  • Emma,

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful journey. I am making a giant move at the end of the month and just trusting in this leap of faith we’re taking. Thank you, Elsie, and the wonderful Beautiful Mess Team for all the inspiration, encouragement, and joy you all bring.

    Wishing you all the best!

  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you ! You put on words what I was going through. It is so uplifting, inspiring, encouraging to read that someone like you went to live the same thing, thank you very much, I REALLY needed this.

    A reader from France !

  • This blog post was exactly what I needed to read tonight after a long day of feeling discouraged. I really look-up to you two for such an amazing blog and you guys are my role-models. Thank you for sharing your creativity and honesty!

  • Oh my gosh, THANK YOU for sharing this.
    I am definitely in the crying-a-lot part of life, the figuring-it-all-out part, and this is an encouraging story that you’re sharing, not an embarrassing one. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the reminder to keep going.

    J in Vancouver

  • This was a really inspiring post, it resonated a lot with where I am right now as an entrepreneur. I am an engineer turn baker on a bike + jewelry maker who now wants to turn back to an engineer!

  • I rarely comment on any blog so I kind of fell of my chair reading your answer! Thanks for being so, so, so sweet and thanks for taking time to talk to your readers.
    (PS: I don’t think I expressed myself really well before, but just so you know, LOVE your recipes!)

  • Thank you so much for this! It’s always so amazing to hear the backstory of people who are doing what they love to do, especially when it was such a learning process to get there. And thank you for the inspiration for my next post!

  • I really needed this today. I always love the blog but I’d especially love more posts like this one!

  • I love your blog and am always inspired, but I love it even more now. It is so refreshing to get some realness in a post rather than thinking that people behind these kind of blogs live perfect privileged lives. Whilst no one wants to visit blogs that moan all the time, the same goes for me when content is so perfect and pretty with little depth. Well done and for being courageous and vulnerable. It has paid off by the response you have gotten here.

  • I also really needed to hear this today. I have been working in the architectural field for 5 years and there is still so much I need to learn. I hope to someday feel like I am not a beginner and that success is not out of reach. Thanks for sharing Emma. Your blog is a huge inspiration to me! I cannot wait for your book to come out!!!