It’s time for a reality check

July 17th feels like a good day to sit down and catch up with you all out there.

It feels as though it’s been ages since I wrote for the sake of writing. Of course as my proverbial star is on the rise, I have worked very hard to have the successful year that 2023 has turned out to be. That being said, I don’t ever want to forget that my humanity is just as important to discuss as my career. While I am my own biggest cheerleader when I have wins, I also have had a lot of pretty monumental hurdles that I have had to quietly overcome at the same time. All too often our social media accounts are a representation of what we want people to see, and it’s time I remember than ten years of success was built on the foundation of honesty and vulnerability.

So, let’s talk about the really hard things I’ve been struggling with personally this year while also having the best year of my professional life. Because those things aren’t mutually exclusive and often times exist simultaneously for many of us.

I guess the first thing is probably the biggest and had been, up until recently, literally keeping me awake at night with stress.

And yes, I’m talking about money.

In 2017 I incorporated my business and felt as though that was the year everything was going to take off for us. I had a staff. We had an office. I ran the blog with my best friend in the whole world. The problem is the universe knew I had some hard lessons to learn still. Without re-opening old wounds unnecessarily, in 2018 Julio and I separated for a year, and during that time I essentially spiraled in many ways, while simultaneously running the business into the ground.

In 2019 I got some bad financial advice and was led to believe I could abandon the business and walk away. Flash forward to 2022 and my “friends” at CRA collections reminded me that that was in fact not the case. The mess I made of the incorporation and the taxes only got messier and now I owed a six figure number.

In my early twenties and several version of me ago I had filled for bankruptcy because I was stupid 18 year old who didn’t understand credit and ran up too much of it to get out from under its crushing weight.

In 2022, now faced with almost $150,000 of personal and business taxes owing, I secretly started the process of applying for a consumer proposal. For those of you who don’t know, it is less hard on you in the long run but has a similar effect. Your creditors receive pennies on the dollar and once the total is paid in full, 3 years later, you restart building credit from zero.

I was so ashamed of both letting myself ignore a looming task like this coming out of the worst year of my life (2018) and now at almost 40 I was hitting the proverbial reset button again. It felt like I just kept failing and finally facing the issue head on took a lot out of me. The result is good, but the process to get to it has been nothing short of draining.

I’m good at a lot of things, but book keeping I am not. Going into 2023, with the proposal accepted, I am currently working to clean this mess up once and for all on my own. I have hired an admin assistant to do my book keeping. I have registered a new business and GST number and I am trying to be okay with the fact that ten years since starting this all, I’m finally able to do it properly.

I’m not sharing this for pity and god knows it’ll start some rumours with the usual suspects in this industry that think I don’t hear what they say about me behind my back, but I am sharing because as successful as I am today, I have also been a beautiful disaster in many ways.

Running a blog / being a content creator has put a lot of pressure on my shoulders. There are countless times leading up to the consumer proposal where I didn’t know if we could afford rent, let alone food. That’s embarassing and scary. My family and marriage suffered a lot for it. This space takes some tenacity. The struggle behind it all is so much more difficult than most of us allude to because letting you peak behind the curtain can be uncomfortable for you and for us.

It took over a year to gather all the items I needed to file for a consumer proposal, and go through this arduous process on my own. But here I am. Financially I on a better path. Mentally I feel like I have a plan. And my trustee is a source of guidance through somewhat familiar territory.

Now you would think just that alone is a lot to keep to myself, but that’s just one of this big things I’ve been dealing with this year.

I recently listened to an episode of The Papaya Podcast where Sarah Nicole sits down with Nicole Breane and they chat about friendship pauses / breakups. It’s worth listening to – click here.

It had me bawling because behind the glitz and the glam, my circle has shrunk substantially this year and that is a very triggering place for me to be mentally. I don’t think it’s fair to name names or even give specifics that those who know me could use to deduce. That’s not what I’m here to do. But a new friendship that burned bright kind of disappeared when I went through a lot during Pride. And one of the most important people in my life suddenly (and drastically) changed who they are completely, and whose entire personality revolves around someone else. I honestly don’t even recognize them anymore. For all of 2023 I’ve begged to see them, talk on the phone, and connect. Their lack of response has not only left me feeling abandoned amid everything I’m sharing, but for lack of a better term, heartbroken. I’m just not okay with it, but there’s nothing I can do other than let go and mourn this loss.

The ladies talk about how painful a friendship pause / breakup can be, and while I am known for my bubbly and effervescent content, I had to secretly be sad. Really really sad.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I am connecting with new amazing human beings on a deeper level, but I am someone who has major trust issues, and so the idea of making new friends at almost 40 years old feels like I have to pack decades of secrets and shared memories up from one home and bring it to another, hoping that isn’t too intimidating for the next. It’s just a lot and I have felt very alone because of friends that have faded away or stopped trying.

I am sure they all had their own issues and hurdles, but I like to think I’m the friend you can always call. They just stopped calling.

Okay so money and friend problems at the same time? Yeah, that is and has been a lot.

Let’s talk about Pride 2023. I’ve shared some thoughts this year but I don’t know how else to say that getting death threats during Pride month has been quite traumatic. A busy time of year for Queer creators, we faced a FUCK ton of performative marketing, blatant bad choices of brands and PR firms hiring straight people, promises to Beyonce concert tickets only to be ghosted, and just a lot of fucking shit as a community. In ten years I have NEVER seen this much hate and I’m angry. I’m angry and I don’t ever want to see another Pride month like the one we just lived. I made a lot of money, but I had to smile through people wishing me dead, brands telling me to tone it down, and being scared of being attacked physically. That is simply not okay.

And to add the cherry on top of all of this? I am really struggling to feel confident these days in my own skin. While it’s no one’s business to discuss the body of anyone else, mine has changed in both good and bad ways and I still struggle with loving it the way I should. Confidence comes from the inside, but the outside can really take it’s toll when friends, family, and your spouse comment on how much weight you’ve put on. To be in front of my own camera, let alone a TV camera, has my anxiety around the whole topic at an all time high. If I could, I would probably get plastic surgery at this point in my life and whatever that makes you feel is fair, but it’s where I’m at.

I am going to try and be more patient with myself and my physical self, and I will continue to share that openly with you because I know someone out there reading this will resound with what I am feeling and maybe not feel so alone.

This is what the blog was always meant to be. A moment of connection between me the person reading these words.

So am I happy today? Yes. I absolutely am.

But am I also struggling with all of this at the same time? Yes. Daily.

And that’s what I hope people remember when they see people on the internet doing beautiful things and sharing their passions. We are also all human and you have no idea the battles we are fighting behind closed doors.

Anyway, I have no idea how this post will be received. But I am glad I have been able to be honest with myself and with you all again in a way that feels very authentic.

Wishing you a moment of clarity and peace like writing this out has offered me.

Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year 

Daniel Reyes Cocka xo