two months

It has been a little over two months since I quit my soul-sucking job at the software mine.

Where did the time go?

I still feel a little insecure about my ability to make this creative free agent gig work, but so far, it’s going better than expected and I’ve learned a LOT.

I’ve learned that:

  • I abhor negotiating pay and hours and the rest. Just today, I had to talk rush fees with a client for the first time in our four years of working together and it made me queasy, but not as queasy and resentful as I would feel trying to cram 36 hours of quality work into a 24 hour period and not get something out of it. Just last week, I was in negotiation with another client wanting more of my time.
  • It feels really damned good to be in demand.
  • It feels even better to honour my emotions and boundaries and time.
  • I’m not a work-from-home-in-her-gitch kinda gal. I need to get up, get the coffee going, get  into the same stuff I would wear to the office, get into my nerd cave, and get working by 10am. This was shocking to me. I’ve never been a routine girl, but then I’ve never had a routine that works for me, instead of for the man, man. I’m still tweaking this whole routine thing because I still want to fit a gazillion more very important things into my days, but I’m getting there.
  • Sleeping on a sleep schedule that both my body and brain like is amazing. I feel like a productivity machine. I feel engaged. I feel curious. I feel patient.
  • Going from working in a male-dominated tech environment to working with a tonne of women in a tonne of different fields is like living in a whole other universe. I will never forget the first meeting I walked out of in which a poor, dead horse wasn’t beaten in the name of some bloke needing to say louder and with more authority the same damned thing someone else said just minutes before, but that we can’t possibly understand unless it’s in his words, only loud and, therefore, authoritative. I shan’t forget any meeting in which that hasn’t happened either. At this rate, with all of this definition through negation, I’ll be a Kabbalist in no time. But dudes in tech: step up yo’ game!
  • I’ve learned that I’m not as harsh a judge as I had previously thought. I was really worried about going into this self-employment thing with some resentment or at least very silly notions about how my mister spends his days while I hustle my ass to make a few bucks. Truth is; I just don’t have time for it. We’re still a bit like ships passing in the night, except his ship goes out of harbour more and mine is still reveling in the novelty of having a window and kitties and plants around me. We have enough intersecting and diverging projects and interests to make fun conversation (sometimes until way past my bedtime) and we still got each other’s backs.
  • Eating is hard. I’m hypoglycemic, but I’m never hungry first thing in the morning, but I NEED to eat first thing in the morning. If you have any brilliant ideas for savoury (sweet just ain’t my thing), quick breakfasts, I am all ears (eyes?)
  • Carving out time for creativity is a whole other thing when you DO IT. “It’s me time and I’m gonna fuck shit up!” produces stuff like this:

and this:

and this:

    And they’re so imperfect, but I learn something new from each one. And I like sharing my fuck-ups because they’re each a wee learning experience. I have so rarely been that person, but I’m glad I am now.
  • If I begin a creative thing the day before, it gives me something creative to work on the next day.
  • I keep thinking “I should have done this earlier”, but I can’t keeping shoulding when I gotta hustle.
  • Holy shit, I have hustle!
  • There’s a metric shit-tonne of people in my community (immediate, virtual, and beyond) who have faith in me. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it (and please don’t flatter me further by getting explicit – the head swell from the last couple of months has not gone down, yet), but I am so, so grateful for the encouragement I have received. I don’t disclose this often, but I come from a lifetime of values clashes and never being good enough. Luckily (ok, through some pretty hardcore care for my boundaries), those people are at arm’s length with little impact on the now, but the effects linger, so every little “keep on keepin’ on, girl” is like a hug for my soul. You have no idea how much keepin’ on I want to do because of you.

I went to lunch with a lovely love the other day – a dude who has been with me through some of the worst times in the last few years – and he always mentions how chill I am now. And I am, even though I work harder than I did at the software mine. Maybe more on that difference another time.

Have you ever quit or otherwise left a terrible, but cushy job only to find it was the best thing for you?  Do you have survival tactics to share around that? I’d love to hear your stories!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. J.H. says:

    I left, or should I say, was forced to leave that cushy job you speak of and it was the best thing I ever did/had happen to me . Mind you, the contract with my current client might soon be coming to an end and I feel a little restless not having something else lined up. How have you found your clients to fulfill the self employment tasks?


    1. thatmelanie says:

      Hi there. Thanks for the comment and the really good question.

      I had a couple of regular clients when I left, but now that I have, I keep my eyes open and exercise that hustle I talked about. I jot every single idea I have for businesses who could use my help – no matter how big or small and then I pursue them according how much I think I can take on. Lots of times, those teeny tiny jobs lead to bigger jobs.

      Part of it is made easier because I’ve made a lot of connections in my community through volunteering. I cannot say enough about how volunteering can help create a reputation (hopefully a good one – I’ve known some volunteers I wouldn’t work with, if my life depended on it) and gets you accustomed to talking to people. Some of my first communications clients came to me by way of tending bar on a volunteer basis for a local performing arts centre and said performing arts centre also ended up hiring me for a long-term, part-time gig.

      I hope that helps!


  2. Left my job in 1992 to become self employed and never looked back. Then larger contract work seeped in and started to feel like employment and not freelancing. In 1995 I suggested to my publisher, who was about 3/4 of my revenue source, that we should “look at the internet”. Actually it was more like WE NEED TO PUBLISH ON THE INTERNET. He did not listen. I quit 5 months later and did it anyway. Never look back. 25 years later I have to say that the market has still not caught up to my original thinking but I do feel that we are well positioned ahead of the curve.


    1. thatmelanie says:

      I can’t believe it’s been a year for me. You have totally been an inspiration in this. I’m loving it. Growing pains and all.


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