How to Deal with Freelancing Uncertainty Explained via Vanderpump Rules GIFs

I feel like a broken record, but hey there. I know, I know. I’ve been MIA in the blogging world.

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Well, I am contributing to blogs, but they’ve been on behalf of clients. Not this blog. This blog has been neglected, like a lonely, unwanted redheaded stepchild.

Which is part of the “problem” and a good problem to have…..I’ve got clients and they need words!

But I miss writing on this blog all the time. There’s hardly a day that passes that I don’t think of or run across something that I think would be blogworthy. Or, more likely, something that I think I’d like to remember in the future and that I don’t trust my rusty, old brain to remember.

Throughout my teens and 20s, I wrote in my journal pretty much every night. I still have a lot—although not all–of them. Mostly, I have the ones from my late 20s. And they are hilarious and cringeworthy and poetic and wonderful—all at the same time. It’s a regular, low-rent, pre-social media version of Vanderpump Rules in there. I can usually only read a couple of entries before I become exasperated or embarrassed by the whole, ultra-meta exercise, but nevertheless, I’m so glad I have them and can refer back to them. And there are actually some really beautiful and moving bits in there that I’m really proud of, although those are the least likely items to ever be shared.

Anyway, now to the present. Or, actually, to thoughts of year end. As 2017 closes, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the past year has gone, especially professionally. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster career-wise, to say the least.

getting real

I guess if I had to sum up 2017, I would sum it up this way: How comfortable am I with uncertainty? And also, because I’m not in this alone: How comfortable is my partner with my work uncertainty?

The first two years of my freelance career were pretty dang awesome. I had a lot of former colleagues sign up as clients right away and I am so, so grateful for that. I was also smart enough to take my own freelancer financial advice: cut way back on the spending and kick up the saving, so I was able to put aside a good chunk of rainy day funds.

2.-James-Kennedy-

So, when a client decided not to renew my contract at the beginning of the year, I didn’t stress too much about it. I figured I’d find some other clients, and while I certainly have, they definitely haven’t been the lucrative, retainer-based client that I’d lost.

Another regular client has scaled back their needs quite a bit (but is still providing some work) and a couple of others who dropped off were never really consistent anyway, so again, I didn’t sweat it. I thought I’d just kick up the networking and new clients would be lining up.

a catch

It wasn’t exactly like that. It took a while to line up new clients and there has been a lag while we got up and running on projects and another lag between when I turn an item in and when I get paid.

For the first time since I started freelancing, I felt like I was churning and churning output and not feeling financially secure. For the first time, I had to dip into my rainy day fund to pay myself, which, mentally, that’s fine, that’s what it’s there for, but is still a bit scary nonetheless. Not just for me, but for my ever-patient, ever-supportive boyfriend. There were unspoken questions that hung in the air between us during every conversation about my money and freelancing: What’s my plan? How many months would I dip into my savings? Should I start applying for a steady job?

Luckily, it hasn’t gotten to that point. Slowly but surely, things have started to pick up again. In the past six months, I’ve taken on a variety of new projects – small ones that are big lifts with low pay but satisfying in other ways, medium-sized ones that are not the most exciting in scope or topic, but pay well and are consistent, and a large-sized project that is scary and challenging and is stretching my skills as a writer.

When I talk to other people who are looking to get into freelancing, one of the first questions they have is “how do you balance your projects so you aren’t taking on too much and still making enough?” I definitely do not have the answer to that. Three years in, I’m still figuring it out.

Right now, I’m saying yes to almost every project I get offered. I know that’s not sustainable long term and some difficult decisions will have to be made at some point. But for now, I’m going full throttle. As a result, this blog will get updated when I can. In fact, I’m also trying to set a better work schedule for myself in 2018, and blocking off time for blogging is definitely one of my work schedule goals. We’ll see.

cautiously optomistic

So, back to my 2017 theme: how comfortable am I with uncertainty? Throughout this slow summer, I discovered that I am surprisingly comfortable with uncertainty. Blame it on my nomadic, gypsy childhood, or the fact that I’ve had to pull myself up by my bootstraps more than a few times in the past, but something makes me sure that I’ll figure it all out. That doesn’t mean I don’t have sleepless nights and anxiety attacks over all this uncertainty, but I just believe in myself. And so does my wonderful life partner/manpanion and boyfriend, who actually might believe in me even more than I do, and for which I am also very grateful.

mink lashes

Nerves of Jello Over Here

I am very nervous about our upcoming trip to Peru, y’all.

I’m not nervous about packing. For once. Although, my new laissez faire “take what you wore yesterday and throw it in a bag (*plus clean underwear)” attitude won’t work for this trip. For one thing, I wore a bulky turtleneck, wool pants and a heavy coat yesterday. That won’t really work for a destination with temperatures in the 60s-80s.

I’m actually following this girl’s advice on packing for a safari, since our trip to Peru is sorta similar in a lot of ways. (Seriously, she has packing advice for just about every conceivable destination/time of year. Very helpful site)

safari packing

This trip is heavy on the moving around and outdoor adventure front, so no need for heels or going-out clothes.

I’m also not scared I’m going to be eaten by sharks, like I was when we were planning our trip to Australia. (Turned out that reef sharks are kinda small and wimpy and are in no way prepared to take a bite out of my flailing body. Also: we’re not diving in Peru. Sooooo…there’s that.)

No, I have lots of other things stressing me out.

Don't worry, Poe! I won't try to eat you. (Wait....do llamas bite?)
Don’t worry, Poe! I won’t try to eat you. (Wait….do llamas bite?)

For one thing, it’s our first trip to South America together and well, South America is a whole other ball of crazy coca tea (I’ll explain that reference a bit further down).

Peru in particular appears to be a bit, well, how shall I put this…..flexible in terms of criminal justice and acceptance of bribes. To be fair, it does appear that Peru is cleaning up its act a bit in terms of corruption. According to this lady in Peru who I’m sure has no reason whatsoever to make up such an assertion.

So, I’m worried that we’ll get ripped off repeatedly by cab drivers (related: cabs don’t have meters). Or worse – I really do not want to be shot in the stomach. That would suck.

I’m, of course, scared I’m going to be mugged. This apparently happens a lot. Even in nice neighborhoods in Lima.

I’m worried that we should not be driving on the roads, particularly not out into the desert. I’m worried that my pigeon Spanish won’t be good enough to keep us from being thrown into a Peruvian jail for some minor infraction like not having our side mirror at a 45 degree angle.

If Peruvian prison scares this guy, what do you think a mushball like me is going to do?
If Peruvian prison scares this guy, what do you think a mushball like me is going to do?

I’m very worried about altitude sickness when we go to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. And that to combat said altitude sickness, I’ll have to drink the local cure, which is a tea make out of cocaine leaves. That’s right. Cocaine leaves. Something I don’t need in my life: failing a random drug test at work and trying to explain THAT.

I’m worried that I’ll accidentally eat cuy—guinea pig, a local delicacy. (I’m tipping a 40oz for my guinea pig homies and childhood pets, Peanut and Walnut, right now.)

Also: This British travel website? NOT HELPING. Some snippets:

Spiritual cleansing – Shamans and other individuals offer ‘spiritual cleansing’ to tourists, especially in the Amazon area and Cusco. This service is not regulated and there have been serious illness and deaths following such ceremonies.

Sand buggies – There have been deaths and injuries involving recreational sand buggies, particularly in the sand dunes around Ica and Lake Huacachina. These buggies are unregulated and the drivers and agencies take no responsibility for the welfare of passengers.

Ugh. This is what I do now that I’m in my 40s. I stress and worry. I fret and overanalyze about all the things that could possibly go wrong.

I know—at least in my head—that none of these things are likely to happen to us. That we’re seasoned travellers. That we’ll be safe and smart. I know that we’ve arranged a car service to take us to and from the airports. We know not to get into just some random old hoopty cab and we’ll always negotiate a price first.

I know we won’t carry valuables (I’m not even bringing jewelry, or my phone, or any electronics) and we will stay vigilant in public places.

I know XFE will not let me become a drug mule, and that he’s already gotten a prescription for non-cocaine-laced altitude sickness pills for us.

I know that I will not take part in any spiritual cleansings or drive sand buggies in a reckless manner or eat furry little childhood pets.

I also know damn well that I should never look on the Internet for things to worry about because you will always, always find them.

In Peru, they can hate, they just need to not masticate! (wow. that was bad.)
In Peru, they can hate, they just need to not masticate! (wow. that was bad.)