As I headed back to work yesterday morning and in the days leading up to it, I kept asking myself, "Did I do enough? Did I squeeze as much as I could into the last 10 months of freelancing "freedom?" I know I could have done much more, pursued more interests, visited more friends, been more selfish with my time, my life. But I also look back on that experience and think, "Wow, that was something..."
- I rode out my lay-off just fine by adopting an "I'm not unemployed, I'm a freelancer" mentality and supplementing my benefits with a steady stream of writing gigs.
- I came and went as I pleased. If the day called for writing and reading at the park, then so be it. Even though the no-strings-attached turn my life took was scary at times, hearing my friends gripe about their own 9-to-5's made it all the more liberating.
- I traveled as much as I could: San Antonio, Cabo, St. Lucia, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles. And that adventurous spirit is still dancing within me. In the coming months I'm heading to Washington, D.C., South America and back to L.A.
- I landed myself a relationship. Exactly three weeks after being laid off and amidst my new-found joie de vivre, I met A. My new schedule will take some getting used to, but I'm secretly looking forward to those "I miss you's."
- I laughed much more than I cried. I ate, I learned, I struggled, I questioned and good God did I play to the point of guilt. I started living again.
Still, outsiders believe freelancing is this beautifully romantic life where you sail with the wind and write in petite cafes when it's very much not the case. Freelancing can be grueling, stressful and wholly uncertain and some thrive in that world much better than others. A friend/ former editor of mine was laid off a year before me and in that time she branched out into a bunch of publications and landed not one, but two book deals! She's a true hustler and one that I've always looked up to as a mentor. That said, I missed being surrounded by people like her, who make me want to improve and impress. I needed a new challenge and I'm lucky to have landed in a place that will provide that.
Now even though I've regained the 10-to-6 stability I'd been craving, I'll have the best of both worlds. I'll still be writing for others and yes, for you. And who knows? Perhaps a few years from now I'll get the itch (or mental instability?) to go the freelance route again. I probably learn things I've yet to realize throughout these long 10 months that all at once seem to have passed by much too swiftly.