Hey, hi, howdy and happy Fourth of July, a day that I look forward to each year to look back, not only on the obvious national history that makes the United States an independent nation, but on my own personal history that’s made me an independent contractor. Today marks the seventh year since I stepped out from the corporate world and gambled on with an idea that I could strike it on my own.
And that still continues to amaze me to this day.
But this year is unlike any other year of the past seven if not just for the fact that we’re living in what I think we can all agree (something that’s becoming increasingly rare) is an odd and off-putting time. But this isn’t going to be a post about a pandemic and the political chasms that it has wrought.
No, instead this is about what I’m thankful for after seven years of trying to “figure it out” because the truth is that there is a heckuva lot for me to appreciate these days. And I say that in the face of so many personal challenges that the Zeitgeist of the day continues to hand down.
Here’s are just a selector few of the many, many (many) things I’m thankful for after a seventh — and perhaps the most uncertain — year of freelancing.
- I have all my work. Seriously, I’m busier than ever and it’s not just because I’ve taken on more home projects (more on that in a bit). That’s not something everyone can say as unemployment runs around 16.9% here in California. It’s a good problem for me to have and I’m reminded of it often when I see colleagues and neighbors searching for work.
- My family is healthy. And I mean really healthy. You’d think a household with two young children would be a magnetic for disease — which is true for the most part — but we’ve been able to avoid sniffles and sneezes this season. That’s been a welcome change when we’re already so concerned about everything else going on.
- I’m coding more. I’ve always considered myself to be more on the design end of the front-end spectrum but even then, I haven’t had to touch a whole of code in the past couple of years since my work has erred on the side of strategy, documentation and writing. It feels nice to re-condition my mind to think in code and put the same level of heart in the lines I write as the words I pen. I redesigned this site at the start of this year and that seems to have snowballed into other areas of work.
- I’m a teacher! Or professor. Or adjunct professor. Or part-time adjunct professor. Whatever the heck it is, I’m teaching web design and development at Long Beach Community College and am tickled by it. I’ve completed my first semester, which was a class on WordPress development, and I’m looking forward to the Fall semester when I’ll repeat that course and take on a beginning HTML & CSS one as well. I consider this my biggest accomplishment since stepping out into freelance because, where freelance ushered in a new chapter of my life, I see teaching doing the same, as I (very) gradually transition from full-time work to retiring in academia.
There’s more to be thankful for, of course, but most of that leads back to more personal things that are beyond what this day means for me professionally. Now, normally I’d segue into the goals I have for the upcoming year, but I’m ditching that this time. Twenty-twenty has proven me unable to forecast or even guess what’s ahead and I’m trying to embrace uncertainty in my work. Perhaps the goal: embrace uncertainty. That and keep on keeping on. As someone who’s currently struggling in those departments, I can’t think of anything better to strive for.
But ok. If you want mew to get a little personal, I’m willing to give an inch. This past year of work was my most successful, viewing it from a lens of personal fulfillment and financial prosperity. The former is clearly the most important as it represents the primary reason I went into freelancing in the first place. But hey, it’s nice that the latter decided to come along for the ride. I don’t take either for granted, especially now that I’m more aware of my privilege than ever and would never claim credit for what I think took a degree of dumb luck and circumstance.
OK, friends that’s all for now. I want to thank so many folks who’ve been instrumental in helping realize the best chapter of my life yet. Whether they know it or not, cheers to you all:
- Marcia (of course) for championing my move to freelance work and showing me what it’s like to embrace uncertainty, even if that means doubling down at a time when it doesn’t make sense.
- Brent for always having answers to impossible questions that lead to more questions with impossible answers.
- My dad who was a real model of independence. Stubbornly so and I miss him all the time.
- Brad for being the bridge that carried me from W2 to 1099.
- Chris for the work I love most and for the silent mentoring.
- Peter for caring.
- Susie for the best advice I got when starting out: Don’t be afraid to say no to work. Good clients lead to more good clients. Bad clients lead to more bad clients.
And many others, of course. I’m so lucky to have a network of amazing folks whom I look up to and who are willing to put up with me.
I’m looking forward to celebrating with you all again right here next year.
Peace and love.