My sad freelance experience

Something happened recently that made me question my ability to write.

A few months ago, I got my dream freelance job writing content for a children’s educational app.

It was my first freelance job ever and I spent 10 hours a week holed up in my room perfecting my content. I had so much fun coming up with creative ways of teaching children about the Earth, the solar system, and the things they saw around them.

I was earning quite a lot on the side. I earnt more per hour on this job than any other job I had ever had. I thought I had finally transitioned into the world of freelance and that I could quit my full time job.

But I decided to wait just to be sure. I continued working 40 hours a week on my day job, and 10 hours a week on my freelance job. I would come home after 12 hours, then squeeze in an hour to write. I did this for about 4 months. Everything was going so well.

But that’s just the thing isn’t it? When everything goes well, something bad is bound to happen. That’s when things started to unravel.

I started coming home from work feeling extremely tired. I couldn’t think. All I wanted to do was lie down on the couch and sleep. But I forced myself to work on my freelance job. And that was my mistake.

Everybody always tells you to work hard. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Work hard every hour that you have and don’t waste it by lying on the couch.

But that experience has taught me otherwise.

See, I was working hard. I had a schedule. I thought that if I managed my time well, if I stuck to my schedule, then that was all I needed to get the work done.

I was wrong.

My writing became less clear, and more muddled. I was writing, but I was writing pointless garbage. I was writing for the sake of filling up my quota for the day, so that I could hurry up and sleep.

I knew it at the time, but I just didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to give it all up. I wanted to continue. I wanted it so badly.

On one particular day, when my spirit was at its lowest and my nerves were at an all time high, I decided to ask the question that I had wanted to ask for so long.

I asked my client if I could extend my hours to 40 hours a week, meaning I wanted to quit my day job and take the leap into freelancing.

I hit send, then I held my breath and waited. And waited. The reply came soon enough.

It still hurts when I think about it. Part of me blames myself for not taking the time out to relax, for putting so much pressure on myself to do well.

My face is burning in shame when I write about this.

This was his reply:

“Thank you for getting back to me, but I’m not comfortable letting you work 40 hours a week at the hourly rate that I’m currently paying you. I suggest we cut it down to half and you continue working for me for 40 hours a week.”

Half.

It felt like a bomb had dropped into my gut. All of these months. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do well. It was supposed to be something that I was good at. And I couldn’t even do it properly.

I replied back to him.

I told him that I needed time to think about it and that I would get back to him once I had an answer.
I was heartbroken. I had put all my eggs in this one basket. And I was left feeling afraid of my abilities, afraid that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough.

So I did reply. Eventually. It took me four days of going backwards and forwards to finally come up with an answer. I asked friends, I asked family, I even did a coin toss.

Against the unanimous opinions of my family, I said “yes”. Yes to the half slashed wage and yes to the 40 hours. Yes to the fear and yes to giving it a second chance.

I said yes to all those things because of a dream that woke me up in the middle of the night that compelled me to write back and say yes.

In that dream, I kept getting rejected by the man who broke my heart. I kept wanting him to say yes to me, but he kept saying no. I had this horrible feeling of being given up on, of bring the woman that nobody wanted to take a chance on.

And when I woke up, I decided to turn the tables. I no longer wanted to be the girl who said no to risks, but the woman who said yes to unknown chances.

That day I made my decision.

I still have to wait for a confirmation from my client. But I’m waiting, not with bated breath, but with a sense of confidence, that whatever the outcome, I chose to give myself a chance.

All woman should hear this

From getting locked in a guy’s car, to shouting down the phone, this is how I ended up getting my closure.

I blew up. Big time. Like really, really, really big time. It was so dramatic, and so unlike me that it almost felt surreal. I have never been in this situation before. Only thought that it happened to other people. I had no idea how it would play out. Twice, I even asked God to help me.

Saturday morning I was sitting in the car with this guy that I had been hanging out with for over a year and a half. I call him “the guy I had been hanging out with” because that was how he wanted to define the relationship.

As I was sitting in the car, there were so many things that I needed to get off of my chest. I knew exactly what I wanted to say but I was editing my words to sound calm and mature, even though deep down I was hurting.

Boy, did I do a 180.

When “the guy I had been hanging out with for a year and a half” told me to get out of his car, I didn’t. I stood my ground because I needed to be heard.

So what did he do?

He got out of the car, took an Uber to his workmate’s place and left me in his car. But before he left, he said “If I find that anything gets damaged in any way, you’re going to have to pay.” Then he left.

After a few minutes I calmed down. By now it was 3pm. I was starving, hadn’t eaten since breakfast and needed to go to the toilet badly. So I decided to get out of the car.

The door on my side was locked. No problem. I thought I’d try the driver’s side. Locked too. So I tried pressing the unlock button and opening the door handle at the same time. No luck. I did everything I could possibly do to get out of the car without trying to damage it. I googled “How to get out of an Audi.” I even tried to get out from the boot of the car. I mean I did everything. But still no luck.

So I phoned him. I told him that I was locked in his car and that there was no way out. Then he said, “No problem, I’ve already asked my workmates to pick up the car. You just need to wait.”

At this point, I’d never even met his workmates. I didn’t want to look like some crazy maniac, which I knew I probably already did. But I didn’t want his workmates to be there judging me while I was still in this state.

Five minutes later, a car pulls into the parking lot beside me and two of his workmates, one male, one female, unlocks the car I’m in and tells me to get out. Like they had no idea what was going on, only some hashed up story he had given them about why this crazy girl was in his car. So I gladly got out of the car, and went back into mine.

It didn’t end there. No. That was just the beginning.

When I’m in my car, I phone him and tell him that it was not cool of him to get two people who had no idea what was going on to intervene in this private situation.

While I’m raising my voice at him down the phone, he tells me that his workmates have just arrived with his car.

And then guess what happens?

He passes his phone to his female workmate because he doesn’t want to deal with the situation anymore!

And guess what I say next?

I have no idea how I managed to choke down these next few words because boy did I say it with as much command and emotion as one possibly could.

I told her:

“Can you get him back on the phone? I know that you think that I’m acting a little crazy-”

Her- “No I don’t think you’re crazy at all.”

Me – “It’s just that I’m acting this way because he was the one who wanted me to fall in love with him (his words exactly) and now he’s gone off without even giving me some kind of explanation.”

Her – “He should talk to you. No woman should have to deal with that.”

And she passes the phone over to him and gets him to talk to me.

Like what just happened? Did she just agree with me? She, someone who was supposed to help him, just agreed with me. Maybe I didn’t look as crazy as I thought I did?

Like I didn’t even agree with what I was doing. I had been telling myself that I was this crazy maniac for demanding some answers, for demanding an apology. I was ashamed of myself. Have been for months trying to pretend that nothing had happened, trying to pretend that I was OK. That I was just too sensitive, too emotional and that I should just bottle up my emotions.

But here was this other woman telling me that what I was doing was actually OK? Because of what she said I found the courage to tell him exactly what was on my mind without fear. To tell him exactly what I felt. And nobody stopped me. His workmates just left him to talk to me. I could hear them in the background doing their own thing and leaving him to deal with his own personal situation like he should’ve done in the first place.

I said many things to him on that phone call. One of the things was that he had always run away everytime he had an argument/fight/break up with a girl, and that this time he was not going to run away.

He had always either moved to a new country, gone hiking up a mountain or left one way or another to avoid feeling any emotion close to love.

I also told him that everytime he had ever done anything wrong, like bully someone when he was a kid, drink and drive, or light a fire on someone, his mum or some other person had always been there to protect him and tell him that he was not going to suffer the consequences of his actions because they loved him. But today that was not going to happen, because I was going to tell him that he had done something very wrong and he was going to have to confront me instead of running away.

He stood there listening to me fuming at him for over an hour and finally said that he would come up and apologise to me in person – in 2 weeks time.

Whatever.

Let’s just say that when I woke up today, it was like a fog had cleared. I heard the birds chirping outside the window again. I felt the sun warm my room, even during this dreary Winter season.

The shame that I had held inside of me for so long was gone. The shame that had prevented me from moving forward all these months was lifted.

None of the passive techniques that people had suggested to get over a relationship – meditating, forgetting, forgiving the other person – even came close to lifting the shame that I had felt.

None of it worked, until I did what I did yesterday.

Because sometimes to get over something so painful and not let it get to your soul, you need to stand up and defend yourself, your heart and all it’s emotions.

Financing my writing career

If I quit my job today, I will have enough money to last me 6 months. If I sell off all my assets, I will have enough money to sail into the sunset for 3 years and 6 months.

I have always had a bigger purpose for the money I’ve earnt. Some people save for the next high, others for a fancy car. I have been saving all my life to finance my dream of becoming a writer.

Growing up, I was told that writers only have two options: to struggle or to give up.

Being the kind who doesn’t like to give up, I decided to struggle. Or so, I thought those were my only two options.

Fast forward a few years of working non-corporates and low-income jobs, I can say that my finances are in better shape than most people working high-income jobs.

Having it drilled to me from the start that I would never achieve financial success in a writing career, has made me strict about my expenses.

All my life, I’ve forgone the daily necessities of modern life: makeup, coffee, and alcohol.

I have never faced the mad rush of putting on makeup in early morning traffic, nor lived for the first hit of morning coffee. I don’t know how many shots it takes to get me drunk, because I have never tested the limits of my body in such expensive ways.

I keep my life simple.

When I need to feel pretty, or confident, I replenish my energy from the inside. I read books, I write, I go outside, and I talk to friends and family.

I am an advertiser’s worst nightmare, but this has saved me a lot of money.

To emphasise how much one can save on a low income, I’ve broken down my weekly expenses as best as I can:

  • Groceries: $50
  • Mortgage: $325
  • Electricity and internet bills: $20
  • Transport: $40

Total weekly expenses: $435

I share my expenses with my sister, which makes it possible to cut down on individual costs.

Next year, I will be turning 28. I have yet to experience the highs that people my age have experienced. I have yet to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids and ride on camels.

But for now, I substitute fancy vacations with long road trips, night outs with night ins, take-outs with homecooked meals. And I’m OK with every single choice.

I set this lifestyle into motion when I was 12 years old, training my mind from an early age, not to desire the things I don’t need.

I am now 27. If I wanted to spend 3 years in isolation, writing a novel, I could. If I wanted to quit my job and sail into the sunset for 3 years, I could. But I’m not going to do that.

My mind is set for the long term. Writing is a long-term game. And in the beginning, financial support is a writer’s best chance of staying in the game longer.

So, to writers and dreamers everywhere, I urge you to learn to support yourself financially.

I urge you to set yourself up to succeed in a world that doesn’t want you to.

This is the first article that I’ve written on Medium. If you like it and are a Medium member, please give it a clap. Thanks in advance!

My dad’s advice

My dad came over yesterday and sat next to me as I poured my heart out about my failed plans and how heartbroken I felt.

After talking with him, he made me realise that my loss allowed me to gain something in return. Time.

Now I was free to spend those extra hours after work solely working on my own projects.

Later that day, as my Dad was driving on the road, a car suddenly came up in front of him. By the light of the headlight, he saw the word “GO” and my name on the car plate.

To him it was a sign of encouragement from the universe, so he followed the car, took a picture of it and sent it to me.

Even though I felt quite small, knowing that my dad was supporting me made me feel a lot bigger.

The secret book club

Since things haven’t been turning out as I had hoped they would, I’ve a little more spare time on my hands. So I decided to do something a little unusual today.

I placed an ad in the local newspaper asking for kids to join a book club.

Now I don’t know how well or disastrous this will turn out, or whether anyone will even respond to my ad, but I thought it would be good to at least do something to encourage kids to read.

I used to work in the library, and during my time there I read to kids, and did lots of fun activities with them. The most memorable moments were when the kids would come up to me and talk to me while their parents were exhausted and napping on the couch.

I remember with joy when a little four year old boy came up to me and we had a full on conversation about everything you could ever talk about on the planet. He had so much to say and I was really surprised by how well he could hold a conversation.

I even made a little friend while I was working there. To this day we talk on FB once or twice a year. Our conversations are quite brief, I don’t think she can stay on FB for long, but I actually think it’s quite funny that once or twice out of the blue, I’ll see a message pop up and it’s from her.

Anyway, wish me luck. I really hope this book club thing kicks off. I guess what I’m really looking forward to is seeing some of the kids make friends with each other and have huge smiles on their faces.

The book seller’s magic

The lady at the bookstore, I saw her today, wrapped in a heavy shawl outside the bus stop.

Her hair was pinned up with a little black clip, a dark statement against her wispy white hair.

Four words popped out as soon as I saw her. Straw-like, stuck out, and slightly unkempt, but she seemed to flow of a magic that only book seller’s have.

One day, I hope to be a part of that same magic too.

And though I wanted to speak to her, I felt mute underneath the vast night sky. Some small feeling inside of me was holding me back from the book seller’s magic.

In my bolder days, when I’d spoken to her, she told me that she lived far away from the bookstore. Her children thought it was silly of her to travel all the way to the city just to work there.

But people who aren’t part of the magic don’t know. When you find a place of belonging, you’d do anything to keep it alive.

And though I am scared, pretty much every day now, I know I’d rather be scared than to stop being a dreamer.

I can’t help but continue on this path. It’s the only one that seems to ring true, the sweetest melody that makes all else bitter.

Now I can see that whatever happens, I will strive for that magic that booksellers have.

The one who makes all the wrong decisions

Do you ever make decisions that are insane/ incomprehensible/ illogical, that nobody in their right mind would do?

I feel like that is me. Or, at least, I am on the verge of doing that. And I’m so torn between logic and insanity that I’d be willing to base my decision on a simple coin toss.

The thing is, I am always torn between these two opposing forces. On one hand, I think how awesome it would be if I took a leap of faith into the unknown, where there is no guarantee that things will ever work out. And then I snap back to reality, scaring myself with all the what ifs.

People seem to romanticise the idea of taking leaps of faith and letting whatever comes your way hit you.

I do too. And it scares me.

So why do I think like that when I’m not really that brave of a person? Who am I to think that I will be able to soldier on through whatever comes my way?

Because there is something that I am utterly afraid of. Something that happened to me when I was nineteen years old that has stayed with me and messed up my process of thinking.

I could be safe and comfortable going about my own day. But then I think back to my nineteen year old self and the way I didn’t act when I should’ve or could’ve. My life would’ve changed in that instant for the better if I acted on that whim.

But I didn’t. And that has stayed with me for years, crawling underneath the roots of all my decisions.

No regrets. No regrets. It’s why I push too hard even if things look bleak.

No regrets.

I would rather have tried too hard than not at all. Because then I would know. I hate having to rewind back in time to find a piece of knowledge that has slipped through the cracks because of an indecision. It’s tedious. That’s why there’s no such thing as time travel.

Regret has made this shy, wallflower of a girl need to try something different. Regret has hurt my mind, stretched it, and bent it in ways that I would have never imagined.

Regret has disrupted my safe thinking and conjured up wild and crazy alternatives, opening my mind up to endless possibilities.

Fearing regret has probably made me a little insane. It’s probably led me off track at times. But I hope it will eventually lead me back to the right decision.