Taking the plunge: Going from 9 to 5 to the freelance life
I used to think that insomnia was for wimps. People who worried too much and didn't enjoy the finer things in life, like nightcaps.
Then one day recently I decided to quit my 9 to 5 and become a freelancer.
I haven't had a normal night of sleep since.
No amount of Malibu Rum will prevent me from napping for two hours in the middle of the night then waking up in a cold sweat, screaming, "MY GOD! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?"
It's not that my new way of living is going poorly—it's actually going quite well. It's more of the fact that, now, I wake up at 9:30 a.m. during the week and sit at my computer in my underwear while the news in the background discusses how terrible our economy is or how high unemployment is.
I worry if I've made the right choice. I feel guilty. None of it seems normal!
I'm use to Carpal Tunnel, florescent lighting, and office politics. That's the way it's supposed to be, right!? I fear that at any moment a concerned family member or an ex-boss or labor elf will jump out from under my bed and shun me back to Cubicleland.
It took me a very long time to realize that I wasn't a 9 to 5 girl. After spending my twenties working reputable jobs but ultimately finding myself uninspired and detached from my work AND disappointed that I got little vacation and little pay for working 50 - 60 hours a week, I had to step back and ask myself, "Is it the job or is it me?"
Like any normal self-absorbed twenty-something, I refused to admit it was me. Then one day it dawned on me—while I tried very hard not to careen my car into the median while driving to work—that I was tired of pretending. Tired of pretending that I gave a crap about something I ultimately didn't give a crap about. Tired of ignoring the tiny voice inside my head that said "break freeee, wee one!" Tired of going the safe route because I was scared.
My freelance work had been growing, and I found myself with the opportunity to jump ship without putting myself into debt. I took the leap and have since been navigating the waters of being self-employed as best as I can. The seas are often rocky, but ultimately, they are challenging and exciting. The stress I face now is a stress of my own making; one I'm proud to battle and one where the accomplishments are all the more rewarding.
Years ago if you told me I would go freelance, I would have laughed in your face. Not getting a paycheck every other Friday? Yeah right! Having been a personal assistant in Hollywood for so long, I felt that I had no employable skill other than being good at handling people with huge ass egos. Even though I knew I had some talents, my resume didn't reflect that. Going freelance not only seemed like an illogical feat, but an impossible one. In my mind, the only people who could freelance were ones who had mad skills or already came from money.
Then I moved to Austin and everything changed. Austin gives young people the confidence and the resources to be independent thinkers, to realize the potential within them. That's why there are so many thought provoking, trendsetting ideas coming out of this city. Movers and shakers think big thoughts and take big actions. Austin wasn't named Forbes' #2 most innovative city for nothing.
It never ceases to amaze me the creative river that flows through this city. Not only that, but the people here want to help you and see you prevail. When you succeed, we all succeed. I've gushed on and on about Austin before, but it's true. The amount of support and local-pride in this city is contagious. The jump to being self-employed didn't happen the second I moved to Austin, but over time, this city has given me the footing to stand on my own.
I look forward to what the future holds in my new life as a freelancer. I also look forward to falling asleep.
Did I mention it was 3 a.m.?