I used to think that making more money would solve all of my problems. I’d think, “If only I made more money, everything would be better!”
Prior to freelancing, I was a nonprofit die-hard — my highest salary being $38,000, six years ago. In the years since then, my income plummeted. I struggled to find work and my last nonprofit job left me with a $30,000 salary.
I had the crazy idea that I was worth way more than that and that working for myself would actually mean making more money. It didn’t happen right away, but nine months into my freelance adventure, I started seeing a shift. Now, over a year later I can say I’ve more than doubled my income.
It’s been great. But now that I make more money, I realize I have a whole new set of issues. I’ve been hesitant to write this post, as making more money is a GOOD PROBLEM and I realize that, but I want to write about it as the thoughts and feelings that have come along with it have been surprising.
This may seem silly, but I actually feel some guilt for making more money. Even though I knew I deserved to make more money, I still feel guilty. I thought I was supposed to be the perpetual low-paid worker, the working-class warrior. Upon further reflection, I wonder if I feel guilty, because for so long I judged/was jealous of wealthier people. I thought they couldn’t understand what real struggles were like and how embarrassing it is to take on any gig you can get, even if it means walking an invisible dog or cleaning someone else’s underwear #truestory.
Last week I visited family in LA and it was awesome. I took advantage of having a flexible schedule and spent time with friends and family. While I was there, my mom remarked on how seemingly quick everything has happened for me. “Yeah, it has,” I muttered.
Because of this, sometimes I feel like a total and complete fraud. My blog is a public record and you can go back to the start of my blog and read my lamentations of making $1,300 per month and struggling to find work. You can read about side-hustle fails and the crazy things I’ve done for money.
I’m in a better place now and I can actually turn down work. I can be picky. And it feels freaking weird. I’m still the same person I was, just a little smarter and tad wiser. But sometimes I feel like a fraud. Somehow being low-income felt under the radar — not noticeable (a very interesting observation indeed). Being more “successful” feels a lot more vulnerable. I have further to fall.
I’ve realized that reality is ever-fluctuating. We are always changing, growing. Life is full of ebbs and flows, successes and failures. A few years ago, I would do anything it takes to get by. I went on food stamps even though I was so ashamed of it, I worked as a housecleaner, and took every gig I could find.
It was honest, decent work. But I never want to go back to that place. Ever. The shame, fear, and depression I felt were so consuming.
Every day I work so hard, because I know that a loss of a big client, or a bruise on my reputation could lead me closer back to that place. And I’m scared. I don’t want to ever go back there.
Then I feel guilty about that. What was so wrong with that work, that place? Who am I to judge? As I mentioned, there are a lot of complicated feelings around this money thing.
When you’re the broke friend, and your friends know it, they’ll never expect you to pay for things or to go out of your way to spend money. Now that I know my financial situation is better than some of my friends (for the first time ever), I feel like I always want to be more generous and pick up their tab.
I want to do things I couldn’t do. I feel like I should pay because I make more. I love being generous, but obviously that can’t be a long-term, all-the-time strategy.
Make no mistakes, making more money is hard work. I’ve had an insane learning curve the past year and had to make a lot of difficult decisions to get here. I’ve had to say goodbye to clients that are my friends, I’ve had to say no, when I felt like I should’ve said yes, and find the courage to speak up when I really wanted to hide.
Being your own boss and earning more is fantastic, but I’m a one-woman show. I’m customer service, client services, marketing, admin, and more all rolled into one.
I’ve learned that running your own business feels a lot like you’re an elementary school student in college and you’re studying your butt off to try and catch up.
Don’t get me wrong, making more money is fantastic. There’s no way in hell I’d be able to put nearly $4,000 to debt last month without it. It’s helping me reach my dreams and goals at a pace I didn’t think possible.
I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity and realize the privilege of my current situation. Now that I’m at a different viewing point, I realize money can help solve a lot of problems, but not all of them.
Do any of these resonate with you?