reader question: how to leave fashionionable jobs for freelancing
"Thank you so much for your inspirational last post. Can you tell me what freelancing sites you use? Any tips you have for a creative dreamer like me would be greatly appreciated! You have lit a fire in me to pursue what really makes me happy. xo Aubree"
It was time for me to face the facts: the closest I had ever come to upward mobility as a black girl in fashion, was when my boss asked me to move my desk away from the bathroom and towards the break room- a move that I now suspect was more out of convenience than out of a spirit of employee recognition. I just didn't get it. I jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning. I dressed in clothes I meticulously picked out the night before to impress the people that already expected me to kiss the supposedly holy ground they walked on. Yes, they had made it. And me? If there was a position open for a professional doormat, I would have been a sure pick. The irony of being the unspoken office doormat is that no amount of butt kissing is going to make anyone respect you. It was on the verge of a near panic attack that I realized- this shit is phony.
All of it.
And I hate it.
Why on earth am I letting people treat me like this?
Sound familiar? This one's for you Aubrey!
I decided my life was too short for all the fake. I packed up my desk in a neat little box and left the coffee maker behind. Everyone can fix up their own damn coffee from now on. That was almost ten years ago in glamorous drug addicted Miami, at one of the most affluent luxury fashion magazines I'd ever laid eyes on. The week after, I turned an internship into a megawatt genie in a bottle and launched my own fashion publishing brand.
You can do this too. It sounds scary but let's be honest, working for Ms. or Mr. Stick-Up-Their-Ass for the next decade sounds like a freaking horror novel. Or better yet 50 Shades of Grey. Take your pick. Chin up girl- it's time to ditch the glorified internship. Yes, especially if you are, ahem, in your 30s. The first step is really that easy. Leave. Get up right now and put in your two weeks. Look around your office. (Come on, at least some of you typed “freelancer” into the search bar of your work computer some time this month.) Are you really getting paid for what you do or are you just a placeholder? I can type it. I CAN SCREAM IT. But only you can decide to take charge of your life.
For me, leaving was the easy part. I was plum tired of all the crap. It was the next day, when I didn't have to jump into the shower before the sun had properly risen in the sky that it hit me. I had absolutely nowhere to be that day. I had no assignments passive-aggressively taped to my computer. I didn't even have a home office. I spent several hours staring at the ceiling. It was time for some serious re-evaluation. I had spent so much time worrying about everyone else that I had lost all sense of what mattered to me. Do I wish I had the time to move away to Paris and journal like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn/Sabrina? Of course. Who doesn't? But the reality was that I had been bottom rung on the “no really, I swear this is a job” ladder for way too long. It was time to get down to work. Don't get me wrong, that was not the last moment I would see the face of a time stamper at a chain store job, or get coffee for a prettier skinnier fashion editor, but it certainly was the era in which I knew any future job would have to put up with my air of superiority because I knew I had a PLAN.
And you will too. Get that yellow pad of paper out, rip off the top sheet that had everyone's lunch orders on it, and start listing. Ask yourself:
- Now that I am not tied down to unrealistic expectations, what do I want to write about, create, or be a part of?
- How do I want to balance out my free time with my work time?
- What hobbies got eaten up by this monster of a job?
I found freedom in freelancing as soon as I gathered up and organized the most important aspects of my life. I didn't trade in my fancy heels for a paper bag. (Lord knows, every lady needs a pair of ridiculously high heels.) But now, I wore them for me- not to impress anyone else.
Fill up blank pages with words. Yes, they will eventually make sense. If you need to burn a few angry letters to ex-coworkers, no one's here to judge. Eventually, I was able to pick out reoccurring themes. About this time you might have to stop and suppress the urge to both kick yourself in the butt and pat yourself on the back. How did you ever think that you were going to be happy in that dead-end job?
There was paper scattered around my room. I looked unwashed and unkept and smelled like a Chia Pet. Had I died in that moment, people would have found me amidst a whole pile of crazy. But, I was on my way.
Once you gather your intelligence, do a proper amount of crying, and get your smelly self into the shower, the real work can begin. And before you start feeling overwhelmed and sorry for yourself- there are so many resources available to you for free from freelancers that have gone before you. From branding your new business, figuring out financial items (sorry, you still have to pay taxes), or finding excellent and applicable reading material, there is really no reason to not at least try out the lifestyle of a freelancer.
And for kicks, here are some excellent blogs right off the bat:
- Odesk <-- the one I use most and have highest success with
Your life has just started. Breath it in. Do a little dance. It is time to stop working so hard and start living the life you have always wanted to lead.
Have any excellent resources? I always love hearing from my fabulous readers.
HAVE YOU GIVEN FREELANCING A TRY? IF NOT, WHAT'S HOLDING YOU BACK? I'VE DONE IT FOR A DECADE WITHOUT WORRY AND AM HAPPY TO SHARE MORE TIPS IN THE COMMENTS!