Bucket of Squash

Lessons Learned—Vol. 3


The world of working for yourself is hardly stable. Sometimes you have clients galore and you love the work, sometimes you have clients galore but you hate the work (but the money is damn good), sometimes you have potential clients galore but they can’t afford you, and sometimes you have no clients at all.

During my first year of freelancing, the size of my work load swung like a pendulum back and forth, from one side to the other. I know everyone’s first year or so is like this so I was expecting it, but being mentally prepared for it and actually going through it are two entirely different things. Awhile back, I had a small breakdown (not really a breakdown per se… but let’s use that term for dramatic story telling purposes). I had just finished a few big projects and though I had some other work going on, I wasn’t fully booked and that was driving me crazy. I felt inadequate and actually started questioning if I was good enough to be successful on my own. I was going through a patch where I wasn’t able to land the work I really wanted to do. In my pervious agency job, when work was slow, I still came in to the office and putzed around. Or I showed face and left early. Or I worked on other personal projects or internal company projects. Whatever I did and no matter how much work there was, I still got paid and there was a massive amount of comfort to that. So, after feeling terrible about myself for a few hours, I happened to get an email from someone who was in a major bind and needed immediate design work done for what was a really cool project. The next thing I knew, I started working and was up for almost 36 hours straight cranking away. It basically took me 4 hours to go from feeling like a zero to a hero. The entire experience was exhausting and very telling for me. The highs and lows can really take a toll on female hormones—even though I’d like to consider myself a relatively emotionally stable person.

After that experience, I’ve really calmed down and accepted the reality of my work. When it rains, it pours and when there’s a bit of a drought, it’s ok to relax a little. I strongly believe that if you do good work and don’t give up, eventually the pendulum won’t swing back and forth so dramatically anymore. Embrace when things get a little crazy because that means you are doing a lot of work and as long as you enjoy that work, crazy is a good thing. On the other hand, as long as you aren’t just sitting around and twiddling your thumbs, also embrace when things are calm because you never know when that calm period is going to come again. Even though it’s so hard and stressful as hell, just try and go with the flow. And lastly, just be patient. It always seems to work itself out in the end.




  1. Archana | my SoCal'd life says: August 16, 20131:21 pm

    Amen, sistah. I’m 6 months into working for myself for the first time ever — and it is so, so hard. And it’s not even the busy times that are hard. It’s trying to embrace the calm, as you put it. Sometimes it’s hard to sit back and relax because when we were in offices, there was always something to do, even if it meant playing on Facebook all day. But freelancing is a great lesson in mental strength and focus. Not that I have much of that right now. Maybe in another 6 months?

    • Rashi says: August 19, 201311:04 am

      I think you said it best—freelancing is a great lesson in mental strength and focus. I couldn’t agree with that statement more! I’m sure you are doing great, don’t doubt yourself :) And yes, I’m sure another 6 months are going to make all the difference—you can do it!

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