I never came across so many people who didn’t know what freelancing meant until I leapt full-time into editing. Even the people who handle my student loans had no idea what I was talking about. After I explained that I’m an editorial consultant, a freelancer, and that most of my clients pay me through Paypal, there was a long uncomfortable silence.
“No, like I just said,” I tried to explain, “I don’t get many paychecks, and all I have is my bank statements, because they’re personal checks and they don’t have stubs. Most of my clients pay me through Paypal. I could send over my Paypal statements.”
“Um, uh, um . . . let me . . . put you on hold while I . . . get the . . . uh, figure this out.” When he came back he said, “So you’re . . . mostly self-employed?”
“No. I am completely, totally self-employed.”
He didn’t seem to get that.
Despite the stares of confusion I receive whenever I have to explain what I do, I am really enjoying my job.
The biggest hurdle to overcome if you’d like to be a freelancer, or a consultant working entirely for yourself, is the fear of where your next paycheck is coming from. The student-loan man seemed shocked when I told him I had no idea where my next check was coming from.
“Do you get paid weekly, bi-weekly?”
“No,” I said again. “I never know when I’m going to get paid.”
I wasn’t going to go into the logistics of how my clients pay me or when; I was already fairly annoyed by that point.
I grew up in terror of money, or rather, of not having any. My mother was always worried we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills, so this constant worry rubbed off on me. It has taken an incredible amount of will-power to train myself to not worry so much; I try to counter these frantic thoughts with the mantra, I will have more than enough, I will be successful. So far, it’s working. But over the last few days, my will-power has crumbled, and I opened up the carefully labeled jar I’d placed on the dark shelf of my mind: Fear.
A good friend of mine, author of the memoir The Journey of a Motherless Child, wisely said, “Don’t water your weeds.” I have to focus on the positive and keep my goals in mind.
Something always triggers the terror; this time it was an off-handed comment someone made.
“Don’t ever get married, as long as you don’t get married, the government can’t come after your spouse for your student loans.”
Aaaaannd, queue onslaught of carefully tucked away terrors.
I don’t think I could do this job as well if I spent the majority of the time worrying about money.
This week, I face up to that fear and let it go.
If you love that weekly paycheck from your employer, and you’re afraid to give up that security, it’s possible freelancing isn’t for you.
But, it is for me. Oh, is it ever.