Free(lance) at Last Bookmark and Share

Today is my first day of self-employment. It is both exhilarating and terrifying. I feel lost and liberated.

I never thought this day would come. I assumed I would always love office life. Working in teams, strategic planning, coworker happy hours. Sign me up for overtime! Work was a happy place of refuge and I excelled at being a model employee.

Over the years, like when I got laid off or when I thought my boss would push me toward Xanax, my husband would ask me why I didn’t freelance. After all I’m a writer and editor by trade; in his mind it’s the perfect career for telecommuting. Truth be told, I actually focus on work far better at home (no water cooler conversations to distract me).

Still, I had lots of reasons for working for "the Man": I like being around other people (unlike my husband who would gladly become a hermit if I let him); I drive myself crazy spending more than two days by myself; I really like steady paychecks and health care coverage.

If I’m being honest with myself, though, what held me back was fear. I didn’t think I could cut it. I was afraid to sell myself and come up short. What if my skills just weren’t that great, despite what every employer had ever told me?

Now through a series of events—and a lot of self-analysis (people tell me therapy is great but that’s what I have friends for)—I am finally ready.

I’ve spent nearly 18 years as a professional writer and editor. The first decade focused on learning and the second on honing my craft. I’ve launched awareness campaigns, managed $1 million budgets, overseen an entire department, seen multiple CEOs come and go and survived layoffs and restructurings.

I thrived in the professional world. Until about two years, tired and burned out, I lifted my head from the trenches and realized that my career was both entirely too much and yet somehow not nearly enough. I wanted less yet I also wanted more.

My path became clear. I had to stop reacting to life and take control of it instead.

For the first time, I am ready. Ready to trust myself. Ready to value my skills. Ready to view myself with the high regard that the people I’ve worked for have. I’m terrified to work for this new boss who has lunatic tendencies, but I'm ready nonetheless to face her.

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  1. Carrie

    Carrie on 07/01/2013 1:10 p.m. #

    So proud of you!

  2. Gigi

    Gigi on 07/01/2013 1:19 p.m. #

    You are going to do great. I can't wait to see where your new path takes you. You are an amazing woman with so many things to share with the rest of us. I'm so happy for you.

  3. Amy

    Amy on 07/01/2013 7:19 p.m. #

    Hooray! Congrats. I can't wait to read the amazing stories your going to write.

  4. Robyn

    Robyn on 07/03/2013 6:26 p.m. #


    I have been freelancing for a year now. I recommend seeing if there are any co-working spaces near you. It helps with that "being around other people part." I also procrastinate less when I work from somewhere other than home. (I will compulsively clean for days when left to my own devices!)

  5. Heidi

    Heidi on 07/05/2013 8:40 p.m. #

    Thanks for the great tip on co-working spaces!

  6. Rebecca

    Rebecca on 07/07/2013 6:31 p.m. #

    You are such an inspiration, Heidi! By having the courage to go for your dreams, you give the rest of us encouragement to live ours. Thank you with all my heart!!

    You go, girl!

  7. George Mulvaney

    George Mulvaney on 07/08/2013 4:10 p.m. #

    I just got done reading this from Copywriter Cafe. This was a very stirring piece. It reached out and grabbed me on a visceral level. Congratulations and buena suerte!

  8. Steve Roller

    Steve Roller on 07/13/2013 10:05 a.m. #

    Congratulations, Heidi! You're going to do great. One tip: try to get on a routine schedule. I know that sounds like the antithesis of being a freelancer, but it will really help you be more productive. It will also ease the transition from regular employment where every day was structured.

  9. Sean McCool

    Sean McCool on 07/13/2013 10:06 a.m. #

    Hi, my name is Sean and I'm a Freelancer.
    (Support group says: "Hi , Sean")

    I haven't had a boss for 5 years now.

    And I feel great.

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