Going Freelance, Anxiety and Believing in Yourself
I decided to go freelance at the beginning of August this year. It wasn't planned. It was something that had been on my mind for the past year or so, but I never really thought it could actually be possible, at least not for a few more years. You know, it's the kind of thing you tell yourself.. "when I grow up I'll be my own boss one day", but making that a reality isn't always easy, or feasible.
The opportunity came about one hot day early August. If you remember this post, you might recall how it all came about.
Long story short I quit my great 2 year long job at The Londoner to change things up, because after two years I needed something more, I wanted to explore something else. I then got recruited for one role in a marketing agency, turned it down for another opportunity at Rye which I thought would be the perfect match, but turns out plans change and 3 months in it wasn't going in the direction I hoped it would, so I decided to quit and.. go freelance! It was rushed but it felt like the right thing to do. Looking back now, timings were not ideal and really.. I had no plan.
I am lucky enough to have the most amazing and supportive boyfriend and family. They always push me to follow my dreams and they want me to do what I love most which is telling stories, taking photographs and helping people tell their own story. I wouldn't have jumped into this if I didn't have their support. Emotional and financial support.
Because let's keep it real, starting your own business is hard. Things don't take off straight away and bills still have to be paid.
Looking back now, I don't think I would recommend anyone doing what I did. I am all for taking risks and throwing yourself in at the deep end, but if you can avoid a few bumps in the road and lessen your anxiety by even a fraction, then definitely do so.. If you want to fly the coop and do your own thing, make sure you’ve done some planning, or perhaps before quitting your 'day job' wait that little bit longer until you are making more money from the “side gig” you want to turn into your full time job.
Making sure that for the first 6 months to a year you have a rough plan of how you're going to support yourself financially, how you're going to market yourself, how you're going to find new clients.. all of this takes time. Realising that you're going to have to wear many hats, all of the hats actually, and all of them at the same time. Those funny old hats can get really heavy at times. I wish I had learned how to wear them a little bit better before diving in.
I want to talk about this and be honest with you because life can seem so easy and rosy out there on the internet particularly on Instagram. I'm sure you know this, but what you see out there is such a small part of anyone's life, it's so disconnected at times that it makes me feel weird, so weird that some days I just don't have the heart to post anything. It feels like a lie.
Two days ago I cried my eyes out to my mum. I cried, I was shaking a little, I didn't have any appetite, I was a mess and you know why? Because I'm not quite sure how I'm going to pay my part of the rent next month.
So yes, I want to be honest with you. The past month or so has been really hard for me emotionally. No one prepares you for the overwhelming wave of self-doubt that comes creeping in late at night, that tight throat feeling you get when you wake up in the morning because you panic about when the next client is going to book you in.
Everyone has been saying that it takes time. Like most things in life, it takes time, only time will tell.. but waiting is hard. It's a lot of late nights crying my eyes out because I don't know how to make this work, a lot of early mornings feeling completely paralysed by fear, so much so that it stops me from doing any work at all, which only makes things worse.
That's anxiety for you – a whole other beast that might need a few posts of its own! But anyway, this freelance thing…it's not easy!
When you work for someone else, your worth as an employee is based on how well you accomplish any tasks/targets that you’re set. Your role is clearly defined, you work towards these goals, you know what you're doing and most of the time you have a pretty clear idea of how you're going to reach those goals (I am obviously generalising, and I am in NO way saying that working for someone else is easy).
When you are your own boss, and particularly when you are your own boss in the creative industry, your worth suddenly is based off people liking who YOU are as an artist. Judging and analysing your work that came from that place deep in your soul. And yes I agree that this is something you have to learn to let go and learn.. (again with time!) how to shift your focus, disconnecting your work as an artist (whatever your trade is) and your art from what YOU are worth as an individual.
Some days it sucks. It sucks so hard you want to give it all up, you think that maybe after all it might be best to go work in an office, where someone else can tell you what to do, where a lot of different people wear all the hats you don't want to wear. Some days I think that might be best.
But then some days, you wake up to an amazing email from a client who tells you they are delighted with the images you've just sent them, or how happy and relieved they are to have a brand new beautiful website to show their very own work and market themselves and their business. They thank you, they say you’ve done a great job and in that moment the world feels right.
Some days you are able to go on adventures like this one with your best friend and call it work. Or you meet up with your family for breakfast and then go to work in a florist studio to take pictures of beautiful flowers, connecting with beautiful people all day long, and suddenly, suddenly, every worry, every late night panic attack, every moment of stress or panic and every single tear is thrown right out the window and you sit there, smile to yourself and remember that THIS is why you're doing this.
As hard as it has been I don't think I would trade that freedom to go back to an office, but I wish I had been more prepared, I wish I'd had more of a plan (don't we all?), I wish London wasn't so damn expensive to live in, I wish we didn't have to pay taxes, I wish anxiety would f*** off, but in the end it's all part of the journey and for that I am grateful - I think.
I hope I'll be able to write a positive follow up post a year from now and tell you how everything is going like a dream, how I have so many clients I don't know what to do with all them (haha) and how all of this was worth it.
For now, I'll enjoy a few more cuddles from my mum (and dad and sister and pets) - I am writing this from my parents’ house in the South of France because I found £20 return flights and I needed my mum so I jumped on the plane and here I am! I'll make sure I stick to my daily yoga routine because it keeps me sane and helps with the anxiety, I'll continue taking care of myself, I'll continue pushing for my dreams to come true, I'll keep working as hard as I can and I'll prove to myself that I can do this, that I am strong, and that I will succeed.
For those who've asked, my dress is from Free People, sadly out of stock but here's a link to a few more little white dresses I love!