I woke up yesterday morning earlier than expected. I’m home for a week, and I expected to sleep in later than I usually do. This is, after all, my vacation.
I couldn’t do it though. I woke up, and I was awake. Mind alert, energy flowing, anxiety pumping. I was up, I was mildly freaking out, and it was only 8:05am.
I’m no stranger to anxiety. Two years ago I went through a pretty rough patch with it. I was feeling anxious about everything, all the time. Two years ago it stemmed from being having too much free time on my hands, a boatload of debt, and fear that I would never find a real job.
I felt trapped in a terrible cycle. I couldn’t find a job, so I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t pay off my debt. I couldn’t pay off my debt, so I felt poor all the time, and didn’t want to spend money. I couldn’t find a job….you see where this leads.
That period of my life totally sucked. There’s no other way to put it. It was horrible. Waking up yesterday, a lot of those old feelings came rushing back. I was totally unprepared for it too. It was 8:00 in the morning- give me a break, brain.
Where exactly was this anxiety stemming from? After all, I’m in a much different place than two years ago. Chiefly, I’m debt free, I have actual money in savings and investments, and I’m pursuing a dream I’ve had forever. I’m an actual writer, that people actually pay to write!
Well, sort of. I do have a few clients, but the money isn’t great right now, and it isn’t steady. I do a lot of writing for free, and I do a lot of work that I don’t get paid for. All my social media, all my blogging. I spend hours every day not earning money.
As a freelancer, I earn money only when I work. I have no passive income streams. I have no paycheck that will arrive even if I spend a few hours on Twitter. What I write is what translates into money. Right now, at the start of my career, there’s just not a lot of money.
That lack of cash flow feeds directly into my biggest fear: financial insecurity. I’ve been there, and I don’t ever want to go back. I want to have enough money to live my life, and build up a big old cushion. With the fits and starts of freelancing, financial insecurity seems almost like it’s unavoidable. The fluctuation is outrageous. It truly is feast or famine out here.
At first blush, that fluctuation was ok. When I first made the transition, I had my Fuck it Fund, my Emergency Fund, catering, and I was working with a few clients right off the bat.
But then two clients bailed on me. Then my car broke down and I had to dip into my Fuck it Fund. Summer is catering’s slow season, so my checks have been tiny. What I have the most of right now is unscheduled time. Just like two years ago.
It’s not the same situation, but tell that to my anxiety. I woke up yesterday sure that I had royally fucked myself over by quitting my non profit job and going freelance. I thought about the fact that all my close friends have been in their jobs for years. They all make good money. They all have real connections, resumes and experience in their corner. And I celebrate when I land a $100 writing gig.
I was scared. Flat out scared. Have I made the worst choice of my life by pursuing this freelance thing? It directly feeds into my biggest fear, and it’s a schedule very similar to the toughest period of my life. Sometimes it feels like I am my own worst enemy. It feels like I am deliberately hurting myself. It feels like I am stuck forever behind, while everyone else in my life continues getting ahead.
Technically, I know that’s not true, and I know that I will be ok. I’ve set several things in motion for myself that I am excited to see through. I have enough money to see me through the end of the year. I’m going to FinCon, catering will pick up in a few weeks, and I am pitching my butt off. Things will not remain stagnant.
It was just an anxious day.