The 2019 Retrospective

Or: How I (Sort Of) Became Okay with Self-Employment

Wow, I can’t believe another year has already gone by since my last year-end reflection. I feel like every year gets shorter and shorter.

This past year has been incredibly exciting in my professional career. I think the biggest thing for me this year was finally coming to terms with my freelancing career.

For the past few years, I was doing design, writing, and project management as a side-hustle—things that I would work on temporarily until I (hopefully) found a full-time job again. I’m not sure when it happened, but I eventually started to notice that I was getting more and more projects. The side-hustles started to roll themselves together into one big, full-time hustle. I no longer had time to do job applications. And I had to start turning people down for projects because I didn’t have the bandwidth to handle them all.

Then one day, I realized: I think I accidentally became an entrepreneur. It took a while for me to accept that, because I’m not exactly an archetypical entrepreneur that I always imagined.

But there are so many other things that I got a chance to do. I worked on over 10 different projects and had countless volunteering opportunities. Each one gave me a chance to try something a little new and a little uncomfortable. There were some tough times (but who doesn’t have those?) but each stumbling block was a new chance to learn something about myself.

So if I’m wearing that many hats and juggling that many balls, all while not being 100% sure of where the next customer will be… doesn’t that sound pretty entrepreneurial, after all?

Other Lessons Learned

In the spirit of self-improvement, I also put my e-reader to good use this year. I learned some new techniques to manage my anxiety (even if it isn’t social anxiety). I started trying to become more compassionate towards myself when times get tough. And when I felt like my natural tendency to help others and my generalist background were hindering my career goals, I was validated and inspired by the stories of many others who found success by just being themselves.

Deciding to go all-in on my (accidental) self-employment is scary, and it’s not what I expected when I first graduated. For a long time, I (naïvely) thought that my work situation was shameful—I wasn’t working for someone full-time and I haven’t founded a tech startup, so what am I doing? Am I a failure?

Since then, I’ve learned that success comes in many forms, and just because I’m not doing something “normal” doesn’t mean that I’m doomed to fail. Being a freelancer is a very plausible career path. And I think that’s the biggest lesson I learned this year.

(The second-biggest lesson was learning how much space I could save by folding my t-shirts vertically in my dresser.)

What’s Next?

I can’t wait to find out, honestly. I’m excited to see what kind of new projects, challenges, and opportunities are waiting out there.

Here are a few things that I think I can resolve to do this year:

  • Read one book every month. It’s not easy for me to find time to get some reading done, but I think this is a manageable amount. It’s a little more than what I was able to do this year, but you have to do some stretch goals, right?
  • Update my portfolio. I talk about a lot of my projects, but I hope to actually share more about those pieces on my site when I am able to.

I’m so thankful for everyone that I’ve met and learned from. Here’s to another awesome year. Bring it on, 2020!

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