This is part two of a series of three posts:
- Part One: An overview, some background, and pondering “titles” and Identity
- Part Two: Getting help and support, and considering employment
- Part Three: WordCamp US and goals for 2016
I got by with a little help…
Around the end of 2014 I was actively seeking a support group. I wanted to talk shop with other freelancers about the day-to-day challenges. This landed me an invite to an amazingly support group that changed my life. They really got me through 2015 and I have since learned that there are lots of these groups out there if you look in the right places. Small pockets of like-minded people are helping each other. It is truly amazing and essential to help navigate the craziness of this industry. All of the challenges of this year would have certainly destroyed me if it weren’t for their help.
Ego, uncontrolled ambition, overzealous, unrealistic, hopeless, depressed, anxious, anxiety attacks, therapy…oh my
There were also personal issues to contend with in 2015. I was trying to do too much all at once. My time management was a mess, my sleep was awful, and I didn’t have a clear direction. I was not very self-disciplined and I really didn’t cope well with it all. I took on bigger projects than I should. I over-promised.
The all-encompassing task in front of me involved adjusting my business to increase profit, narrowing my focus to learn how to be a good front end dev working with WordPress and doing at all while also supporting my significant other while she was in college. This meant taking on all of our expenses.
I like a challenge but to be frank, that sucked. Maybe I benefited from that amount of pressure to really pull up my big boy pants and get over the hump. But by the end of the summer I was a mess. I tried so hard to figure it all out and I accomplished a lot but I was completely burned out. I thought I knew things that actually didn’t know and even worse I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Know what I mean?
The ambitious plan of building a business as a freelancer while my significant other was going to college was the hardest thing I’ve dealt with in my 38 years on this planet. It’s deeply personal and I hesitate to talk too much about it. I will say that the end result was that our relationship took a hit. We came out the other side as two independent people who had just faced a lot of challenges and when the dust settled we tried to merge our lives back together. But it was quite the shock and required a sort-of reboot and a lot of reconnecting.
I was having anxiety attacks for weeks at a time. I was seeing a therapist, we were in couples therapy, and I couldn’t focus on work at all. I was completely out of shape too which was hard to deal with since back in 2006 I finally turned my health around and lost 65 lbs getting down to about 140. I was obsessed about being healthy.
That was all out the window… I’d gained it all back and my diet was pretty bad too. I honestly thought my entire life was falling apart.
In September 2015 I just put on the breaks and my monthly income numbers tanked. They remained that way although with a slight upturn in December. Luckily we had enough dual income at that point to offset it some and keep the bills paid. I also had the support of friends, family, therapists, and my business support group to help me keep things together.
For The First Time I Seriously Wanted To Be Employed Again
This led me to seek full time employment. Freelancing was killing me and I wanted a Plan B. But I wasn’t going to take just any old job. There were two companies that stood out. One was 10up, a really awesome WordPress agency. I really didn’t think I had the chops to get that job but I wanted to see what would happen if I applied. I didn’t get an interview but they were very nice and gave me some direction as well as asking me to apply again later in 2016. I might apply to another company or two later in the new year.
Applying for a job, even though I didn’t even get an interview, was enough to really inspire me to up my game. I updated my resume, wrote a short cover letter, and cleaned up my website a bit. I even put up some code on Github (it sucks). It also kicked me in the ass some more in terms of realizing what I need to study and learn to level up. It forced me to mature.
I decided to table the idea of joining the workforce for a later time and instead focus on my freelance brand. I also had a relationship with a new agency client that was beginning to bring more work. By the very end of December it seemed like things were starting to look up again even though my income dropped significantly in the last quarter of the year.