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.

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.

Things I’ll never grow out of

On my 14th birthday, I desperately wanted to buy Sinbad and the Seven Seas on DVD. It was a children’s movie that I had seen on TV, and everything about it catered to my longing for adventure. So I dragged my dad to the store and showed him the DVD. He frowned, “aren’t you a little too old for that?”

That Autumn, I was sad, because there were many things I would have to grow out of:

  • Reading children’s books
  • Watching Disney movies
  • Practising my badly drawn illustrations on the bedroom floor
  • Believing that anything can happen!

Even my silly personality, I would have to grow out of.

I worried about my future. Would people stop taking me seriously because I enjoyed those childlike things?

That Summer, I shed a couple of old leaves. I replaced all my old hobbies with serious ones. I thought it would be OK and sensible to lie low on land than to fly high above the clouds.

And one summer turned into four summers.

The funny thing is, I was still the same old tree.

I still longed for those old roots. They gave me an experience akin to being on top of the world, flying! I had magic right here, in me. And that was a special feeling to have.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t change the way I spoke. I couldn’t change the way I saw things, often with rose~tinted glasses. I couldn’t change the way I always looked for hope even though there was none. Subtle things like that, made up who I was.

I didn’t think these small things were important at the time. Regrettably, I shed the wrong things.

Today, I know that these are the things I shouldn’t have grown out of, but grown into.

I am trying not to punish myself for saying the wrong things, or wondering about the what ifs. Because if I was true to myself, how can it be wrong?

Our habits are like stars in the night sky. We don’t see the big picture until we observe the patterns and see a constellation in the sky.