From secure to insecure: when a full-timer went semi-freelance.

Moments of success and a vanishing employer during 3 months of freelancing!

P.S These are all real life events, sadly.

Never(!):

  • Leave a full-time job without having touched/sniffed/made physical contact with the contract for your next job.
  • Continue working for a company if they’ve paid you late, and their reason for doing so STINKS.
  • Never, ever, reply with ‘YES!’ to every job that comes your way. Even if they all sound bloody fantastic.
  • Vanish off the face of the earth and never make time for friends during all of this. They’ll prevent you from going under.

There’s no denying that, when you’re marching to beat of your own drum i.e, working for yourself, you feel good. When I left university I COULD NOT WAIT to fly solo as a dance artist/choreographer, but when expectation sat down with reality for a cuppa, I quite literally went under and couldn’t cope with it all.  I was very unprepared. The experience left me feeling like, it was never going to be a ‘real life’ experience for me. I never had enough resilience in the reserves tank, my skin wasn’t thick enough, I couldn’t take rejection upon rejection and bounce back unharmed. I came to a conclusion (prematurely) that I should stick to a stable and secure full-time job. I hadn’t even given it a proper shot.

I’ve now been walking the semi-freelance path for three months. I can quite honestly say that it is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life so far. BUT, heck, am I bloody thankful to myself for doing it. Now, three months is nothing. But it’s long enough to have made (and learnt from) a few monumental mistakes (and successes). In celebration of surviving the hairiest of these moments, I thought I’d sit down, and tell you about the most stressful gems, and applaud them all in turn. What a treat.

To set the scene, I left a satisfying and stable full-time job to have a more varied and creative work life. But, I also came to this decision because I felt like I had to.

I realised recently that doing the same thing Monday-to-Friday just was not working for me, and it was starting to show. A pattern had emerged whereby I’d secure a good job, lose interest too quickly, and then look for a different job, with a confused expression suggesting that someone else was in control of all of these wrong turns, not ‘me’.

Out loud: “Yeah…so, it’s obviously not the right job… Yeah, I’m in the wrong job, again. Talk about being unlucky.

In my head: “Shit. I can’t stay interested in a job, any job.”

Finally, following a minor meltdown, I changed tactic. And here I am.

My issue is, I am interested in *bloody EVERYTHING.

*I’m very aware that I’ve used the ‘b’ word three times now, but this is a passionate post people!

One minute, I want to be creating marketing campaigns in the third sector. The next day, I want to be bringing dance to kids who don’t have the opportunity to experience the arts in their immediate community. But no, I’d decided I was, One-Job-Tosh, I was never going to ‘rise above my station’, and god, do more of the stuff I actually wanted to do. I wasn’t allowing myself to just get on with it, despite knowing that the experience and skills were there to support a new way of working. But let’s not forgot the one thing you really need when going after stuff that’s pretty important to you – confidence.

You are allowed to be good at more than one thing.

And, get paid to do more than one thing.

We look around and don’t see many people doing it (for obvious reasons), so we don’t.

Someone, somewhere, once said, quite possibly mystery writer Rita Mae Brown (and not Albert Einstein, according to Google) that:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

*Enter Heather, stage right.*

I’m very aware that, this all sounds like one pretty self-indulgent, straightforward, drama-free decision – and most importantly – a shift that should have happened sooner.

“Do you not reflect, love?”

But, the thought of leaving a stable job was absolutely petrifying. And so was taking on semi-freelance work in any capacity, never mind returning to two lines of work I was probably a little rusty in – teaching/choreographing and social media/marketing. Leading my first contemporary dance class after a gap in teaching was HORRENDOUS. For starters, the risk of poo pooeing my lycra pants was too real to express in words. Maybe not.

Farewell comfort zone.

Three months in and, the move was absolutely worth the risk. The sense of reward and fulfilment from doing what I do now each week is priceless. I teach for in three different locations, work for a brilliant charity three days a week, and provide social media marketing support for the remaining time. In part, I get to work to my agenda, and work with some brilliant and very talented individuals in some great environments. There’s also a greater degree of flexibility meaning, I can be at home (with the dog) more often. But most importantly, I’m using the skills I want to be using.

Nevertheless, it’s a tougher lifestyle. I repeat, a tougher lifestyle.

You need to earn more than you did previously because you don’t have the same job security. Unless you can afford the luxury of an accountant or assistant, it’s up to you to manage your admin/invoicing/taxing/sickness cover and lets not forget, securing your next gig when a contract comes to an end. But it’s all manageable.

So, let’s hear it for the cracking bloopers endured along the way. 

My top three:

  • Here today, gone tomorrow! Work can come and go…overnight. Plan for this.
    Two weeks ago, I discovered that the owner of a studio I was teaching for weekly had vanished. I’m owed a 3 figure sum of money, and the likelihood of me ever seeing a penny of that is nil! #ghosted
  • When you’re not working, you’re probably thinking about work. Don’t.
    At one point, I was working 7 days a week, and did this for one whole month. Initially, the fear of not having job security and enough income each month made me grab every opportunity I came across. I was effectively stock piling income in case of an emergency (like point 1).
  • Accept that it’s going to feel scary. But remind yourself of the ‘why’. Every day.
    When I’m about to do something that scares me, I go quiet, and angry. I should ask James to add some commentary here for full effect. If you remind yourself what you’ve got to gain by giving this ‘thing’ a go, it may help you put one foot in front of the other.

So there we have it. Three months of panic, fist pumps, tax codes, vanishing employers, #DanceLive18, more time with the dog, creativity, variety, and enough money (thank God) to pay the mortgage. A-men.

Here’s to three more ;-).

Heather

One comment

  1. Loved reading your blog Heather, you are an amazing girl. You have taken a leap of faith and it has paid off – nothing less than you deserve. Xxx

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s