Melanie, you are crazy.
What have you done?
You are in so much debt.
You don’t have a fully funded emergency fund.
You are the breadwinner in the relationship.
You have no idea what you are doing.
Do you remember how long it took you to find a job?
Are you not grateful for what you have?
What if you are making, yet another, BIG mistake?
Thoughts like this have been swimming in my head for the past few weeks, as I’ve adjusted to my new freelance lifestyle. I quit my job and left quietly and without a peep, sharing details with only a handful of people. Truth be told, I was a little ashamed. I was scared of being judged. I didn’t want to share my thoughts or experiences with you and have the anticipation of leaving colored with positive and negative feedback.
I wanted to make this (very difficult) decision on my own.
Since February, I have been working the equivalent of two full-time jobs or more. I’ve been running myself ragged and I wasn’t giving 100% to anything. Not my job, not my blog, not myself. I felt like I was barely getting by. But deep down I was having fits of depression, anxious meltdowns, and a face full of tears that wouldn’t wash away. I was doing too much, trying to be too much.
I know, I know. It’s all my fault. I let that happen. I bit off more than I could chew. That’s not a reason to quit a job. Not a reason to quit a job you searched two years for. Not a reason to quit a job that you got after beating out 200 other people, after not having any of the technical requirements for the position.
No, that wasn’t it. There was definitely more to it. I started to realize that after a year with the organization, I wasn’t going to grow in a direction I wanted. I wasn’t going to grow much at all, actually. And what’s the opposite of growth?
I also started to compare my freelance income to my low nonprofit salary. The gap was very small. I thought to myself, what if I could free up eight hours a day and work on my own stuff? I was convinced that I could make more money, doing things I love, in the comfort of my own home. Now, I know freelancing is not a stroll in the park. I still have deadlines and still have to hustle for work.
But I’m confident, for one of the first times in my life, that I will be okay. Why? Because I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. My income is diversified and comes from many different places. As soon as I let a few key people know I was leaving, I got more writing work and more brand ambassador work.
For the past few months, I’ve finally ramped up my EF, so I have at least three months of expenses saved up. My current income will pay my bills, but my student loan payments may be fluctuating. I want to continue to increase my savings rate, while paying off debt.
Don’t you worry, my priority is still becoming debt free, as soon as possible.
But I still have so much to learn and prepare for, as I figure all this stuff out. I am astonished with how much things have changed in a year and a half. I started this blog when I felt like I was at the end of my rope, making $12/hr at a seasonal job, eating from food stamp money, and feeling like I had no future to speak of. I was stuck, ruminating on past failures, possibilities of things that never happened, and replaying times in my life I was more successful.
My therapist asked me, “Do you want to live on the shelf of regret? Look how many things you have there.”
Up to that point, I felt like everything I had done was a mistake. Leaving my job was a mistake, going to grad school was a mistake, moving to Portland was a mistake. WTF was I doing? Everything felt meaningless.
This blog very well saved my life. It sure as hell saved my relationship, too. And now it’s turned my life into something else completely. Something unexpected and new. An adventure.
And that’s how my blog changed my life.