A Year Later - Not So New Beginnings
This time last year, I was in a panic. I had just decided to try out freelancing, and the anxiety would settle in every night. I questioned my decision nightly. I panicked every morning. I kind of, sort of knew what I was working on, but my to-do list was a collection of disorganization. I was here, I was there, I was everywhere, but without a clear purpose. I just knew that my urge to be free and listen to my gut outweighed the need to feel corporately safe.
Truthfully, I was fumbling all over the place. I had no idea which lane to go in. I was missing all my blind spots. I was floundering. It was February 2018 and all I knew was that I just wanted to be a new version of myself that wasn’t tied down to a corporate need or goal. I wanted to be a new version of myself. I wanted to follow a Must do instead of a Should do. I wanted to see what I could do with the skills I had accumulated. It turns out I could do a lot with them. After 12 years of navigating different corporate jobs, networking, and writing, I had absorbed a lot of skills and developed critical relationships.
I wanted so badly for people to believe in me, but first I had to start believing in myself. I went on countless interviews, fearful that I was doing the wrong thing by leaving corporate, so I had one foot in the door. Most of the interviews didn’t work out, and the ones thatI did land, didn’t excite me. I quickly understood that excitement and fulfillment define me and what I look for in a new project. Fulfilling, meaningful work will always fuel me. Anything else and I stumble. It’s in my DNA to work for what matters. I can’t hide, nor can I act, any other way if a job doesn’t excite me.
I’m a consultant now. I’ve affirmed my skills (way more to go), and become more confident in my own skin. A trait and feeling I likely would never had to master if I had stayed in the comfort of corporate culture.
I’ve removed myself (for now) from corporate, and with it comes the fear that I’ve alienated myself too much from desk work. That I’m missing out on a new CMS or presentation skill. That what I’m learning while consulting with clients may be lost on a new employer looking to hire me. I constantly worry and fret about the what ifs? and what now? But what I don’t worry about anymore is the past, the mistakes I have made, and whether or not I made the right choice. I did. I had to stumble and fall hard for the first few months, but what I learned is that I am capable. I am so capable of weathering the storms. I’m capable of speaking up for myself, I’m capable of pitching my abilities, and then taking those abilities and doing something with them.
Over the year, one thing led to another which led to another which led to travelling for work more often than I ever have. It led to a certain type of freedom that I craved. It also caused a knee-jerk reaction in me to get it together. Financially. How precious that time was when I didn’t have a care in the world about the logistics of my bank account because money went in, money went out. My taxes were taken care of, as was my EI and RRSP contributions. Corporations are good at doing that for you. How easy, how simple.
That is not the case when you’re freelancing. The first shock comes when you miss a paycheque. The second is when a promised invoice is not paid. The third is when you realize you haven’t saved enough for the rainy day - and there are many rainy days. The fourth is when you’re running dangerously low. And the fifth is when it’s time to submit your taxes and it hits you - wait, there’s an HST AND an income tax deduction? I’m screwed. I got my financial shit together. Was forced to, really. It’s interesting that a career as unstable as consulting/freelancing is what inspired me to go steady with my finances. It was the first time ever in my life that I started to take finances seriously and worked on a consistent budget. It was the first time that I took notice of interest rates and fees. I paid off debts, closed credit cards, and started talking to people about how they got financially healthy. I became curious about finances because I wanted better for myself. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to hustle without the fear and burden of finances weighing me down, and truthfully, they have been weighing me down for a really long time.
When I think back to how much I did last year, and how much I learned, I can’t help but feel giddy with pride. The relationships I made and the opportunities that came my way? I am so grateful for them. I wouldn’t have known those things were possible had I thrown in the towel when shit hit the fan. I wouldn’t have been able to learn the things I did if I had given into my fear. But now I have a different type of anxiety because I think…what if I don’t do the same this year? What if I don’t accomplish as much this year? So much happens, changes and evolves in one year that I can’t imagine topping off last year, but I know that I must.
What I do know is that I’m willing to try it all again because the accomplishments are the payoff that you work hard for.