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How to Stay True to Yourself As A Freelancer

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

"I continually sold myself short because my best at that time, was not the best I could deliver when I'm truly focused on being at my best."

I experienced an identity crisis a year ago, it was a rather confusing time for me in my journey as a freelancer. After my second daughter was born, I continued to accept and edit work from clients, keeping the same timelines I had kept before giving birth. And even as I continued to do this, I also failed to communicate my new reality at the time (my daughter was a preemie and spent her first few months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I knew that I should have taken a complete break, but I didn't. And although I committed my best to the projects I took on, in the end, I sold myself short because my best at that time was not the best I could deliver when I'm truly at my best. This resulted in some not so happy clients; not due to the quality of my work, but due to the quality of communication and some misunderstood expectations.

I know this now, but receiving negative feedback from those clients caused me to question whether it was time to channel my skills and energy into something else. I began to doubt myself, so I took time off from editing. I changed titles almost every month; taking courses, attending webinars, reading up on content industry trends, and salary expectations, all in an effort to avoid the fact that I made a fixable mistake! Now that I have regained clarity on who I am, what I do, and why I love doing what I do, I have returned to storytelling and book editing. The transition back to being myself hasn't been easy, but it has been a relief to rediscover who I am and how I can continue to stay true to myself going forward. Here are a few things I've learned:

You will make mistakes, that's okay - Don't be swayed by difficult situations. Difficult situations are inevitable on this journey, so expect them. If necessary, have a crisis plan in place - something to remind you that this is just a bump in the road. If you do this, you will be better equipped to rise above the challenges when they show up.

Seek clarity - When you find yourself doubting whether you're cut out for the freelancing life and question whether this wasn't some lofty idea you should have given more thought to, STOP! And then seek clarity in whatever way works for you. Personally, being a person of faith, I turn to God in my times of confusion and doubt. He's never failed me yet.

Remember your Why - My why is that I love what I do. It's who I am - a storyteller and a book lover. But most importantly, I love the freedom that comes with working for myself. I can be that mom who takes her kids to the park on a weekday, just because I can. Remembering this always brings me back to pursuing what I love and ensuring that it brings me the rewards I have earned.

Know that change is inevitable - Learn to ride the waves of change. When I first started freelancing, I was not yet a mother. And the one mistake I made with both pregnancies and births was that I failed to take my changing circumstances into account. Instead of finding strength in these changes, I fought against what I saw as perceived weaknesses. I did not want my clients to know that the reason I was extending deadlines was that morning sickness was keeping me from being productive. Or that, I was unresponsive to emails because I was spending more time in emergency rooms than in my office.

After two beautiful daughters and many lessons learned, I am now aware of my shortcomings. And even more aware of why I do what I do. All in all, knowing that the path you have chosen is a worthy one, one that is reflective of who you are, is what will keep you going when times get tough. The key is to know who you are and what brings you joy and satisfaction, then resolve to never be swayed from the path you have chosen to take. Sometimes, you might need to take a break, and that's okay too.

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