I have heard this phrase a lot, yet never has it felt so true. A year ago today I had just been laid off, I was living in Philadelphia without a clue of where my life was headed or what I would do for money. I happened to get very lucky and quickly found a part-time position that would allow me to make money while still searching for a full-time job. I had interviews with companies lined up each week, however the more I talked with prospective employers, the more I found I didn’t want to go back to the same position I had just been let go from. Don’t get me wrong, I love marketing. I love being part of a team and finding unique solutions to draw awareness and change behaviors. I just didn’t feel like I was doing that– instead I felt like I was spending the majority of my time scheduling meetings, taking notes, writing proposals, sending reminders…I know its all a part of business, but I felt I lacked purpose.
Looking back on this time a year later I see that I needed this change. When it happened I thought it was the worst thing in the world getting laid off–I felt rejected, like I was not competent at what I did. In hindsight, being let go made me realize what it is I actually wanted. No longer was I OK with sitting behind a desk being a marketing robot, I wanted to find work that made me excited again, I wanted to make clients excited about it too.
Taking the advice of a very smart guy I know, I decided to create my own website. At first I saw it as a good showcase of work to send prospective employers. Once that was up and running I started looking for side work to get me by until I found a full-time position…this was harder than I thought. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent talking to “prospective” clients who want work done for free, or for whom I’ve send lengthy proposals only for them to tell me they don’t have the money or time for this now (maybe next year). It can be beyond frustrating, but the biggest lesson I have learned is not to be timid about the value I provide. People will always try to get you to back down on price, and while I am always open to negotiation, I am not one to sell myself short of the impact I can make. A year ago I was terrified to negotiate, I was always afraid someone would walk away from a deal if I tried. Now I see it as a strength, and one which I look forward to bettering as time goes on.
My biggest fear in not having a full-time job was mostly money. I was living on my own, being an independent woman and now I had no insurance and no paycheck. I was afraid I would go for broke. Turns out, I would be just fine. I won’t lie, I am not setting the world on fire making six figures, rather I am working on building up a portfolio and figuring it out day by day. I am however, making more than enough to provide for myself and am learning and growing more professionally than I ever have.
Yes, this road has been a scary one. There are plenty of days where I wonder about the future and what it holds. While this past year has been a roller coaster, its also been so very rewarding. I can honestly say for the first time in my life I am proud of what I have accomplished, and it was all for me.
Very recently I had someone say to me “be brave and the universe will catch you.” Being an independent/freelancer is certainly nothing I ever envisioned, but there is a beauty and freedom in making my own decisions and having the flexibility in work hours and space that makes me enjoy my life so much more. Who knows if I will go back to working full-time, or if one day my company will be the biggest marketing brand in the world, I can only move forward with my gut instinct to guide me and do the very best I can for my clients every day.
Life is full of so many unexpected twists and turns. Reflecting a year later: what I thought was one of my biggest lows, turns out to be a new door that has opened endless possibilities to me. Do not be afraid to pursue the things that make you happy and that make you feel the most alive, the rewards you receive will be sweeter than you could have ever imagined.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”