August 31, 2014 marks two years since I made the big leap: I quit my full-time day job to venture out on my own as a full-time me. It's been a bumpy but satisfying two years. I'm going to be in the Dominican Republic that day (woo!) so I'm here a bit early to reflect.
What I've Learned
I covered some of this territory last year, so what's new since then?
In it for the Long Haul
Don't tell anybody, but I briefly became an employee again. For about six months, I worked for a local web shop.
At first I was worried I'd Failed. Like, how could I already need a job? To make matters emotionally worse, the new job was in the same neighborhood as the old one. Yikes. But, lesson learned: Getting a job does not equal failure. Sometimes in this crazy world of self-employment you need stability, and that's what I needed at that time.
I've since found an intermediary happy place--contracting part-time with Electric Citizen, and spending the rest of my work hours on my own clients. It's given me the freedom to take on projects I'm really excited about instead of just Any Project That Comes Through the Door. I've learned that self-employment is a mindset as much as a reality: I am here to drive myself forward into new arenas, new projects, new worlds--and sometimes that might involve a W2.
Mix it up.
I've learned to drop the Bruce Wayne/Batman schtick and let people in on the other half of my life. This means telling my web developer friends about my dance career and telling my dance friends about my unglamorous life as a nerd. Particularly when I worked my day job, I felt strongly that I needed to keep The Day Job and My Art separate. I didn't invite coworkers to shows and I avoided the subject of jobs with other artists.
Blech. What a silly way to live. I love hearing about artists' day jobs and "non-artists" outside-of-work passions (kind of the same thing). I used to worry that including my day job in a bio for a show meant I wasn't Serious. No more! I'm proud of what I do in both halves of my life. Dance has informed my development work and the tech world is working its magic on my dance life. There aren't a lot of people who can say that, and I figure I may as well pipe up about it.
What I've Unlearned
Stop Acting like a Secretary
I'm still unlearning this, but the biggest issue I had after working as an assistant for eight years is the Secretary Mindset. When I worked as an assistant, my boss' wish was my command. This attitude, however, is not the best when working as a consultant/freelancer, especially in a competitive and fast-changing industry. At first my clients didn't quite seem to trust me to know my stuff. Eventually I realized that I was undercutting myself with the "Yes, of course" habits I developed being a superstar assistant. I've learned to speak more assertively and give my opinion, even if (and especially when) I know it's not going to be popular.
What I'm Still Learning
When to Have Fun, a.k.a Goldilocks and the Three Jobs
I seem to work too hard or not enough...never just right. It's like I'm trying to fit five pairs of socks into a drawer that only has room for two.
I am still learning that relaxation time is necessary. I am still learning how to know when I've done enough. As soon as one big task wraps up, I'm jonesing for the next thing to take up those big wide open schedule blocks. In year three, I hope to stop working nights and weekends. That's not so much to ask for, right?
Ask for help.
Last year's goal was to learn how and when to ask for help. I've started this but have a long way to go. I am slowly learning how to delegate. Slowly.
Where I'm Headed
I have a secret project up my sleeve that I am hoping to unveil by the end of 2014. And I have some big personal changes you might have heard about...but there will be more on that, too.
So, here's to my third year of funemployment. To new adventures! Thank you to everyone who's been part of this crazy ride.