Real Talk: The Start
We all know so well, that the online life is a paradise of highlight reels... and I think I'm guilty of the joining the parade sometimes as well. In most of my posts about freelancing (and expat life), I do include some of the struggles, but I tend to focus on the "it being worth it" part. Which I do truly believe, but of course, it's easier said than done...
The post I wanted to share today with you has actually been sitting in my drafts for over a year... and I had totally forgotten about it until I sorted through all my content for the re-design of this blog. So I've updated the dates a little, but sadly/fortunately it still all rings true. That's the thing about freelance life: in a way it's ever-changing, but the ups & downs remain a part of it. Maybe a bit less to the extremes - or we simply learn how to ride the waves a little better.
It's been over 2 years now since I've become my own boss on a full-time basis. Unlike what any guide will recommend you to do first - and which is probably the more responsible way to go independent - I kind of rolled into it after an agency work contract ended and I rather impulsively decided that this was the time (although I prefer to say that the universe gave me a sign). No business plan, no major financial back-up in the bank (at all), no clue, really. Just the strong feeling that this was the right moment to give it a try and an attitude of "I can always go back to an office job..." Where I usually tend to be an overthinker - overly over-analyzing pros and cons trying to come to the perfect decision or result - somehow with larger life-changing decisions I throw caution (mostly from others...) in the wind and solely listen to my gut feeling. Moving across the world (and back) without anything lined up (plan, home, job)... turning my back on a "proper" and "safe" full-time office job... I think my parents sometimes really wish I wouldn't play these risky games, but honestly, they have been the best decisions I have ever made in my life. No risk, no fun - right! On that note I must say that at the same time I wouldn't be able to do it without my family's support though...
But let me tell you, in these first few years of being my own boss I haven't only experienced fun. Stress has been a very real issue on very many occasions. Even in times where everything was going well, I still felt on edge. Because it's going well now, but you never know what will happen next... And that well-meant, but worried feedback from your family & friends doesn't help either. My sleep routine, skin condition and memory had probably never been worse than in the first year. Especially the latter has had me worry a lot as I was starting to fear that I was losing it a bit. I sometimes sat down at a wrong cafe to meet a friend (without realizing), wouldn't remember a route I had walked down many times before, forget about tasks, completely losing my train of thought in a conversation, throw things out by mistake... I know, it happens to anyone sometimes, but if you have to deal with it on a daily basis for a few months... you start to wonder. And feel scared.
It turned out that most of the forgetfulness could be blamed on my lack of sleep (which was caused by stress and iron deficiency), but I think the work itself also had something to do with it. The thing is, in the past I never considered myself to be a creative person. I see now that this isn't true and I have always been creative in a (smaller) way, but it's only been since my newly taken freedom that I have really unleashed it. In previous jobs, where I had marketing, communications and business development roles, I also had to think creatively, but it was not even close to the way my mind works now.
They say that the more creative work you do, the more creative you get. And I think that definitely applies to my first years as a freelance Creative Consultant. The awesome - and at the same time scary AF - thing about juggling multiple creative projects is that it really causes sparks that leave you with even more ideas. It is pretty fascinating, but intimidating too, because like with anything else, you have to train the creative mind. The brain is a muscle, too, and looking back it's no surprise that it gave me a bit of an 'error message' for a while. How is your brain supposed to be fit enough to properly process all these different streams of ideas? It is still something I'm working on - it's a matter of trial and error - but I have found a few ways to find more creative balance.
What about you? Would love to know how you combat an overworked mind and stressful periods!