"What kind of trouble have I gotten myself into now?"
This morning I woke up wondering why a certain sub sandwich client was calling me. I stared at my phone for a solid minute before I realized it was just an alarm of my own making, set to remind myself to work on the client. Not a phone call.
Whoops. Guess I’m pretty damn out of it these days.
It makes sense because I’m seriously exhausted. Let's face it--my work-life balance sucks. For months, I’ve been writing about a string of problems with my writing gig in social media, and then this week it finally occurred to me that it’s time to quit. Scratch that. It's well past the time to quit. This lack of work-life balance has finally gotten to me in a very big, very bad way.
A couple of weeks ago, my 4-year-old caught a pretty bad winter bug--and it got to me just a few days later. Last week we went into urgent care and the doctor prescribed antibiotics for the both of us, but while my daughter's fully recovered... I'm still battling the same symptoms and fatigue.
Through the entire illness, my freelancing work has been sucking the life out of me. Just zapping my energy with every single day. Each task takes me longer than ever to complete, and then I stress out about how futile it is to slave over the little bit of money it makes me. What should take two days to complete takes me four, five, or even six days. And when you're paid per task? That's pretty damn problematic.
Something's got to give.
I work, take care of my daughter, sleep, and eat. For the past eight months, that's basically all I do. And it's just not working for me anymore. Part of the problem is that I'm finally making better money with my personal writing, so it's a much better buck for my time.
So I've reached this point where I can no longer juggle my personal writing and my social media work because together, they take up much more time than 40 hours a week. That was alright for a temporary fix to pay the bills when I was starting out writing for an audience of none, but it's definitely not sustainable for a long-term solution.
Right now if I try to keep both jobs, I'm going to continue to struggle and have no work-life balance. I'm not even making my social media deadlines anymore. As I write this, I'm sitting in a broken nursing chair in a messy living room, staring at an unopened box containing my new chair that was delivered a week ago. But I just haven't been able to find the time to clean up and put the damn chair together.
And that's only two of 200+ tasks I've been putting off because I have so little time to spare. It's ridiculous. This is my life, and something's got to give. I'm working weekdays, working weekends, working at all hours--I need a break in absolutely every sense of the word. This reprieve is long overdue.
But I'm super scared.
Ironically, the most logical solution right now is also the most frightening. I have to quit the social media work. It's taking up way too much of my time for too little money. And there's no opportunity for actual growth since I will always be limited to however many clients are assigned to me and how long every task takes me. No matter how well I do on any given blog, it's stuck at a flat 10 bucks.
Since my personal writing is paid out according to reader engagement, there's thankfully still room to grow. But it's scary, because what if that engagement stops? What if my stories quit resonating with readers? What if I run out of ideas? What if the website shuts down or the algorithms change?
What if, what if, what if?
Clearly, I can drive myself crazy worrying about all the ways my income will suffer or how I might lose everything if I depend upon my own writing and that all suddenly goes south. But with the way things have been going, I've basically been waiting for the "right time" to go full-time with my own work.
Certainty is a myth.
I've been waiting for a sign to tell me that it's okay to take my writing full-time and quit depending upon the part-time gig that no longer fits my life. Like some kind of sign that assures me I'm not an idiot. I'm looking for certainty. But let's face it--most career moves offer no guarantees. And writing is certainly among the least certain careers a person might choose.
Seriously though, there is no certainty in any work we do. Businesses fail every day. People face injury, illness, and death. Whatever you thought was that sure thing? Just wait until circumstances change--because they will. All we can do is make the best choices we can and work with whatever we've got.
Besides, there's something to be said for doing what you love and pursuing your dreams to turn your passion into a career. Truth be told, I never really went after my dreams until I began writing last April. Before that, I more or less let life carry me.
It's time to take charge of my life.
For more than thirty years, I lived with an external locus of control, and I knew it. I was ashamed of that fact, and I often wondered if I'd ever be able to change that part of myself. It's not that I saw myself as a victim, but I always saw my circumstances as life happening to me. It felt like my whole life was beyond my control.
Writing every day is the only habit I've ever developed that's made me believe I can change my ways and take charge of my life.
This is a completely new frontier for me. But I'm taking the chance and believing that I can support myself and my daughter by doing something I love.
As I venture into 2019, I'm taking the next big step into writing a better future and channeling my inner Emma Woodhouse by saying, why not me? Stranger things have happened!
Which means I am quitting my soul-sucking job--and it's the scariest decision I've ever made.