Some of you might have already figured it out based on my not-so-discrete #freelance hashtags on instagram, but, surprise! After months of consideration, I left my full-time job at the end of December to pursue a freelance career full-time.
TLDR version: Millennial woes + why not?
It was not a decision I came to easily. If you know anything about me, it's that I'm very indecisive. I like to consider all the options, opinions, and outcomes — I like to be sure.
For months I was unhappy at work, but I told myself that this was just my problem, something I could work on. The startup mentality of "do more with less" jived too well with my work ethic, and I volunteered myself for responsibilities because, who else was going to do it? I, like everyone else on my team, had too much on my plate, but I saw it as a sign of "growth," an "opportunity for learning." I chose to continue to accept the things about my work environment I knew in my gut were toxic for me because I was too scared to make any kind of decision about it and I didn't want to let my team down.
Of course, I considered applying to other jobs during this time. I scoured job boards and made spreadsheets, but the prospect of another job did not excite me at all. Over the last couple of years, I had been lucky enough pick up freelance projects with clients I love who filled me with a sense of "Yes! You were meant to do this!" And as I put off applying to jobs, I kept coming back to to the idea of freelancing full-time and establishing a design practice of my own. One of my close friends told me something along the lines of, "You give your all to work, why not work for yourself?" But it all seemed like just a dream. Maybe even the dream, the one I would pursue when I was "ready." I didn't think I was ready.
Despite all this and the full support of my family and friends to leave my job, I let my insecurities, fears, and the words of others who told me that it was "not the right time" or that it would "hurt my career" influence me longer than I should have, and so I stayed.
Then, in October, I went home.
I spent a week in Korea with my mom and dad, and of course, going home always gives you that perspective you need. My parents reminded me that all my life, I've done what I was supposed to do. I was always at the top of my class, graduated from a top college, always had internships and jobs lined up, had money in my savings. Your Korean daughter dream come true. But, to paraphrase my dad, I had never taken a break, never did anything for me, and that this was good of a time as any. I had nothing to lose, they reminded me. And so it became clear. Why the hell not?
So, now what?
2.5 months into the freelance life, I'm just starting to find my rhythm. I still have yet to re-do my portfolio, update my resume and Linkedin, and make my business cards (oops). But I've been lucky enough to have enough clients — including True&Co. — who have made the transition feel real and possible, and I'm looking to find new clients starting in April.
While freelancing is the farthest thing from a break (hah!), I find every day much more meaningful. I'm living with more intention, choosing how and with whom I decide to spend my time. There's exciting projects and collaborations on the horizon that I know require hard work, but I'm ready.
I promised myself 2016 would be the year I would take care of me. So hold me accountable. Maybe I'll crash and burn, but I know you'll be there to help me put out the fire.