How to Change a Life: The Story of a Friendship


In Which @jackinessity Reads an Essay

How to even begin to tell this story? I will start it back in time: March 9, 2011.

It was an ordinary day. I was in my cubicle, at work, in Santa Clara, CA.

I was still employed at the time as a Customer Service Representative for a Semiconductor company. I had a bit of a tedious job, and spent most of my day alone with a computer and endless chains of emails, doing data entry, filing, and spreadsheets. I also had a two-hour daily commute back and forth from home in rush-hour traffic. However, the job paid me decently well, better than I had been paid working as an adjunct college Professor, better than I had ever been paid before in my life, with benefits and 401k and so forth. As the family breadwinner, I had a husband and two children to support, and a mortgage to pay. All in all, I thought myself fairly content.

Underneath, though, I was far from content. That day, I took a break to check my social media, and saw this tweet:

stoplivinglieThe link led to an essay by Joshua Fields Millburn, which Julien had featured as a guest post. The essay is a powerful kick in the ass, and written much in the style of Julien himself. But one part of it in particular hit me hard on that particular day:


By the time I got that far in to the essay, tears were streaming down my face. It was true. I wished I could do it, too. I wanted so badly to break free. I was heartily sick of mediocrity, and slowly rotting from the inside, for lack of creativity and social contact. At the time, I had little idea what to do, but I was following my instincts, and the whiff of freedom I sensed from the essay was irresistible.

At the top of the page, Julien had posted this message:


So, I did. And the first thing I saw was that Joshua, like myself, was about to attend the South by Southwest Interactive week at the film and music festival in Austin, TX. I did what any good @jackinessity would do. I tweeted Joshua that I wanted to meet him:

hitingutIt just so happened that Joshua was planning a Minimalism tweetup at South by Southwest:


I went to the tweetup, met Joshua, talked with some interesting people. It all could have ended there. But you see, it didn’t. Here’s what happened next, as I summed up later that year on my blogger blog:

bloggerThe conference? Oh, just a little thing you may have heard of, called the World Domination Summit.

In Which @jackinessity World Dominates

2011 happened to be the first year that a guy named Chris Guillebeau was holding a brand new type of event:


When I arrived (late) the first person I ran into was Joshua Fields Millburn. He introduced me to the incredible, loving bundle of awesomeness that is his co-author and best friend, Ryan Nicodemus. The day after the conference ended, I went on a hike with Joshua and Ryan and others from the conference, and began to get to know these two special guys a bit better:


Afterward, I considered them both to be good friends, and kept in touch with both Joshua and Ryan accordingly:


They came for a couple of visits to San Francisco, the first time, while Ryan was still on crutches after the first World Domination Summit.

Incidentally… Yes, we were in the Castro… yes, that’s a proper San Francisco rainbow pride flag in the background. Nobody tell them…


In Which @jackinessity & @jfm Are Misfitted

Finally, most recently I had the pleasure of seeing Joshua again in Fargo, ND, where he was one of the featured speakers at the first ever Misfit, Inc. conference.


During the intervening two years since my first meeting with Joshua, I have watched with awe and deep pleasure as both Joshua and Ryan have grown in fame, in accomplishments and contributions, and as people. When I met them in 2011, their blog was only a few months old, and Joshua had not yet finished his first novel. By the time of this trip, I discovered that he has become well-known enough to be spotted out at dinner by a fan, who asked him to sign her copy of his book. (We teased him endlessly that it was a plant, but no, he really has gotten that recognizable.)

fameI will add from what I know of both Josh and Ryan: their growing fame is entirely legitimate, and deserved. Both have worked incredibly hard, with discipline and grace. They are some of the most ethical, principled people I know. I do admire them greatly, and am extraordinarily proud to count them both among my friends.

In Which @jackinessity Wonders Things

So why do I chronicle this? I have been asking myself this question all morning, as I dug through archived tweets, old instagram photos, and the like. I promise that I did not start this as a way to brag about our relationship. Admittedly, I openly and vociferously adore and idolize both Joshua and Ryan to pieces, and have had the most ridiculous schoolgirl crush on Joshua for a million years now (can’t help it… he uses such pretty words!)

Example: I stumbled across what is probably my favorite tweet of his ever while looking at old tweets for this post:


Le sigh. Hehe!

Teasing Joshua aside… I meant this to be more than just a chronicle of all the times and places we met.

Let me change the subject, then, for a few minutes, and talk about something else entirely.

They Have Unquestionably Changed the @jackinessity’s Life

That is the pure truth. Had it not been for @julien‘s tweet, had it not been for @jfm‘s essay, had it not been for @chrisguillebeau deciding to hold the World’s Best Conference, had it not been for @AJLeon and @melissaleon and the Misfits, I would not be the @jackinessity that sits here today, chronicling the journey.

The truth is, Joshua and Ryan didn’t just change my life. They also saved it.


Go follow them on twitter, people. Or else!


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