Two weeks and one day ago, I walked into my boss’s office, closed the door and said, “I’ve been doing some thinking lately…” which is when he leaned far back in his chair, as if moving out of hearing distance would stop me from telling him what he knew I was going to tell him. “I’ve decided I want to pursue freelancing full-time.” It is odd to think that speaking those words and signing a short letter is all it took to end a one-and-a-half-year period of my life. It is strange to know that you can leave your daily routine at any time you wish, and the only thing keeping you there is money or fear or comfort in the known.
I am so grateful for having that job for the past 18 months. It gave me respectable health insurance benefits during a period of medical distress. It paid well enough for me to cover my medical bills while also saving up money for this leap. I got to work in an office where my coworkers genuinely enjoyed each other’s company (most of the time). I learned a lot about web design and how corporate politics work (or don’t work). I benefited a lot from that job, but it was time to go and there was no use in denying it.
At this point you may be hollering at your screen, “PastaQueen, have you not seen the eleventy billion reports about the economy?! Do you not know that 9.7% of the population does not have employment?! How can you possibly dare to quit your job? Have you been drinking the crazy juice?!” Why, yes I have, and mmmmm is it tasty!
If you have read this blog for more than 5 seconds, you will know I almost never do anything without a plan, a couple spreadsheets and detailed graphs. I have looked at my budget and my finances. I have written a business plan with concrete goals, dates, and numbers. I have paid off all my debts, save for a student loan which has such a low interest rate that it basically accounts for the rate of inflation. I have saved up 6 months of living expenses. I have cut expenses by moving to a new apartment.
Most importantly, I have mined several freelancer friends for advice. They’ve told me about the ungodly amount of work it is. They’ve told me how scary it is to have no work one month and then too much work the next. They’ve told me that I will not be able to find decent, affordable health insurance. They’ve let me know that if I do not socialize and stick to a schedule I will find myself “pantsless at 3pm, eating peanut butter out of a jar and staring at the television blankly.” They’ve told me that this is the worse they have ever seen the business during their 10 years experience. They have told me all these things and still I have been thinking, “Sign me up!” I suppose that means this is a calling, though personally I wish I’d been called to be a rich lawyer or doctor instead of a poor writer/web designer.
This wisp of this a dream appeared in the back of my mind a couple years ago, and back in August of 2008 I wrote it down on paper and made it my secret goal, which drove many of you crazy. Sorry, I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend like many of you guessed, though a husband with health insurance would be fabulous to have right now.
Yesterday I drank a big beer at my going-away party and this morning I slept until 9:30am and now I am officially working for myself. We are three hours into it and it is going well so far. As I said, I have 6 months of savings, plus some projects lined up which will earn at least another 6 months of income. I’ve been building up freelance web design clients on the side and have officially launched my blog design company, Make My Blog Pretty. If you are in need of web design services, please check it out. I will be at the BlogHer Conference in two weeks, handing out business cards and hopefully generating more business. I am also looking for writing gigs that will bring in the cash, so if you know any of those, feel free to contact me. I promise to keep you updated about any other projects I contribute to in the future.
I also want to say, “Thank you.” If I didn’t have this blog which led to that book, and if I didn’t have all the support you guys have given me, I don’t know if I would have the confidence to do this. I believe in myself. I’m betting on myself. Five years ago I wouldn’t have done that. Sometimes people say weight loss is silly or vain, but losing all that weight taught me what it was like to make a dream come true. It taught me that absurdly great goals can be achieved. It’s made me the type of person who will run off to Europe because she feels like it and who will quit her job because she wants to do something else with her life.
I am relieved to finally be here. There was a day back in April when I sat down in front of my computer and looked at my to-do list which included:
- Work at full-time job
- Plan trip to Europe
- Find cheaper place to live
- Work on a zillion freelance projects
- Exercise and eat well
- Maintain blog
- Make business plan for freelancing
As I reviewed everything I had to do in those next few months, I thought I might collapse on my mouse pad and be taken to the hospital for exhaustion, like Mariah Carey or Jay Leno. “I have taken on far, far, too much,” I thought. But there was no stopping it. I couldn’t place anything on hold. Somehow I soldiered through and here I am on the other side, still with many things to do, but significantly less stressed about it all. If I have seemed a bit distracted lately, or somewhat off my game, that is why. I hope to pay more attention to the blog now that I’m not running off in a billion directions every day.
Now I am three hours and 15 minutes into my new career, and things are still going well, though I’m getting a bit hungry and will go make myself lunch. I hope I don’t start eating everything in the kitchen now that I’m working from home.
On the down side, I read an article announcing that tomorrow is the First Annual Freelancers Put On Your Pants Day. Sheesh, I’ll only be one day into my new career by then and already they are setting such high demands!