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My Unsuccessful First Year of Freelance was Successful

My Unsuccessful First Year of Freelance was Successful

I’m closing the journal on my first year in freelance. It was swift. It wasn't lucrative. There were days impregnated with guilt around the lack of productivity. I am not viewed as an acclaimed writer. I don't have a completed manuscript. Magazine editors are not knocking down my door with topics to cover. The evidence is apparent. My first year was a failure. It was my most successful year yet.

Success, in its most accepted form, is achieving a level of notoriety and above average financial earnings. By this definition, my year was a failure. I did not make money; I reached to break even with expenses. I am not a recognized name when it comes to writing. And, herein exposes my privilege. I didn't achieve traditional success, fame and money, but I didn't lose my home or acquire debt either. I will continue this freelance path another year. I can do this by means of my economic privilege - my previous savings entering this transition, owning a house prior to freelancing, and a partner who is supportive emotionally and financially. It is not lost on me. I am lucky. I am also not satisfied.

I want financial stability. I want more than stability, I want financial comfort. I want to strive for more than I need and expect writing to get me there. Jessica Knoll’s piece for the New York Times, I Want to Be Rich and I’m Not Sorry, is read on a weekly basis. It is my rallying cry. Her brazen drive for money making hits my chest with a thud. Her attitude smolders inside me. I don’t communicate my drive as often as I should. I want to be a notable writer. I want my name and writer to be interchangeable. I want to surpass my husband in financial contribution. I want to unabashedly say all these statements, not just think and write them. I cannot expect others to accept my horizon success if I do not live it inside and outside my mind.

I evince my ambitions, but it does not change the past year and the right now. I am not in anyone’s spotlight. There is no hearty advance waiting. How do I shine a positive light on my first year of freelance?  

I own my failure. I find success. 

Failure is hard. It is humbling. I am embarrassed. I keep moving. Dissecting my failures, on a daily, monthly and now yearly basis, has invigorated my learning curve. Every unaccepted submission or misuse of time altered how I approached the task the next time. I hear and read success stories. A repeated theme within them is failure. The successful person, having emerged on the other side, acknowledges failure as a key ingredient to moving forward. I am doing my best to seize failure while fenced by it. I dig for the constructive information. It does not always go smoothly. Failure can be a towering concrete wall; and, me standing before it only armed with a pen, no sledgehammer in sight. This is when failure is shelved.

Once failure was sidelined, it was easy to find accomplishment. I am happy where I am at this moment. I am not content in my traditional success, but I am fulfilled in my success surrounding happiness. This year gifted me the time to be still; to view happiness as a triumph. I controlled my time. I didn't always manage it well. It opened my eyes to wasteful activities in my life. Managing my time caused me to simplify my days. The more I uncomplicated my life - the less clothes I had, the less money I spent, the more I dedicated my morning to a few routines - the more happiness was consistent, the more productivity flourished. We have seen this ethos shared. I have used and heard less is more in regard to a variety of situations. The Minimalists guide their readers to "live meaningful lives with less." Ted Talk, Less Stuff, More Happiness, by Graham Hill, founder of Tree Hugger and LifeEdited, challenges listeners to "consider the benefits of an edited life." I was aware of this view prior to freelancing. I never took the time to try it. As I set to master productivity in this new lifestyle, I had time to analyze and edit. I have made additional room for happiness to implant, grow sturdy roots. It bared fruitful results about halfway through the year. 

Five months into my freelance, Ben and I became pregnant. There wasn't enough room to contain our happiness that day. After a long stretch of trying, we couldn't deny the link of our conception to my increased happiness derived from navigating freelance. My mind was a powerful force during infertility. After year one, and then year three, it was hard to nurture optimism. Even when it was willed, my mind didn't always believe it. Freelance was a goal four years in the making. It deserved my attention. The attention led to rearranging my energy which led to increased happiness on a consistent basis. My mind was finally occupied in a productive and positive way. Did this help us become pregnant? I do not have scientific proof. I do have a child inside of me. This is proof enough for us. 

This year as a freelance writer was lucrative in simplifying my life and led to the expansion of our family. The days were long; the year was brief. There were moments overflowing with appreciation because I had time to write. My eyes widen at the thought of a world with bountiful topics. I not only type I am a writer, I broadcast it. Traditional success is not a bogus notion; it will be fact. My first freelance year is the step to the next year, and hopefully the next. I am building a career path which emboldens my lifestyle and the one of my family. By my definition, this is success. 

Cheers, Jessa

Photo by Rose Colored Creative

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