3 reflections from 1 year of self-employment
31st May 2022 was my last working day in full-time employment
Initially, I had planned the break for 3-4 months. I fulfilled one of my dreams to enroll in an acting course for 3 months during that time.
But after that, I had two choices: start looking for a job once again or continue to make the freelancing/self-employment thing work.
The first choice was safe and comfortable.
I might have taken some time to find another job again. It’d have definitely made my parents happier who were expecting me to get settled soon.
But, I had no intentions of tying a knot. I had to first untangle the knots in my head and heart. Figure out what makes me come alive and happy before I fall into the trap of outsourcing this responsibility to someone else.
The second choice looked uncertain yet exciting.
I could not plan my next milestones in terms of career growth. There was no corporate ladder to climb. It was about discarding the ladder altogether and reimagining what walls I wanted to climb. It involved surrender and a leap of faith.
I chose the second path and decided to stay self-employed.
Much to my happiness (and my parent’s disappointment), I realized recently that this path also provided default protection against arranged marriage as most Indian parents of prospective partners don’t want to go ahead with someone who doesn’t have a ‘good’ package at a ‘prestigious’ company. 😀
It has been 12 months now since I ventured out on my own.
As I reflected on the past 1 year, 3 main themes stood out:
1. The path appears when you take the first step.
It feels downright scary when you begin to walk on an unconventional path. There is no certainty. Safety is a distant dream.
But, your heart and the inner voice tell you it is the right path even if you cannot see it completely.
This is where you got to take that first step: a leap of faith trusting a higher power/universe/God/whatever term you feel comfortable with. Soon, you begin to see the path and you just start walking. If you wait till the conditions are right or try to plan everything so you can see the entire path, you’d never begin.
Take the first step. And then the second. Then the third. And the fourth.
Continue one step at a time and you would begin to sense the path.
2. When you are on the right path, you find support from unexpected directions.
There were a few times when I nearly lost faith. A major project ended and a client paused the project just when I started to feel confident in my abilities. I did not have anything lined up and wondered if I’d be able to sustain my expenses in the next month.
However, almost every time, out of nowhere, I got support.
A potential client insisted to pay me for a trial, unpaid writing project. An ex-colleague reached out after months to seek help with his newly launched startup. One of my ideal clients responded after 3 months of my application and we closed the deal within a week, just before my other projects were nearing the end.
It reminded me of Dumbledore when he said that help would always be given in Hogwarts to those who deserve it.
Your life is where you learn the magic to work hard on your dreams. And you get help when you need it.
This is how you also know that you are on the right path.
3. Think like a cockroach. Survival is your goal.
In all honesty, I don’t have any major breakthroughs or epiphanies in the last 1 year.
I have not built an agency like I had thought. I did not create any digital product so far. I have not discovered my niche yet.
But, I am grateful that I have survived.
That is the biggest realization I had recently when I came across an article called Think Like a Cockroach.
“Once you start to think of yourself as a cockroach — just trying to survive — you free yourself from the constraints of walking that precarious path to the top of the mountain. The random things that life throws at you won’t always harm you. Sometimes the obstacles can actually help you. Sometimes they show you an opportunity that until a minute before you didn’t even know existed. And you can seize that opening because you’re not fixated on a remote summit.”
Quitting your job to pursue your dreams can sound scary. It is a huge mountain to climb. The thought of reaching the pinnacle can overwhelm you easily.
Plus, sometimes you might not even reach the pinnacle. That is the harsh reality of life.
But, when you shift your focus to survival, it can be liberating.
“Your only goal is to survive the mountain; to avoid having your new lifestyle taken away from you. This may sound mediocre and uninspiring, but in reality, it’s extremely liberating.”
I am still considering this idea and how I feel about it. Most of the time, I have always wondered how to thrive more in life rather than just survive.
But, survival in this context does feel different and somewhat empowering.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in your replies! 🙂
That’s all from me this week, folks!
Until next time,