Remember when I told you about the Loving to Learn contest that was going on last month? Well, I entered, and, wouldn't you know, I was one of the winners!
This year's question was: If you were to write onto a postcard something that you are proud to have learned in the past few months, what would it be?
And here is the response I submitted:
Less than a year ago, I left a full-time job with a comfortable salary for a part-time job and big plans to be a writer. As my nearest and dearest will know, I'm a pretty careful planner. My typical idea of adventure is letting my gas tank get below half full, so this probably seemed like an uncharacteristically spontaneous move for me.
Given my hefty student debt load and recent car purchase, it wasn’t the best laid plan, from the outside looking in. I had been told a few times that I “should be grateful” to have a full-time job when so many new graduates didn’t. And, don’t mistake me, I was grateful. My full-time job was with great people in a wonderful organization…but I didn’t love it. Perhaps it’s the willful Gen-Yer in me, but I refuse to accept the idea that a job is just a job. Why are we labeled as self-indulgent for aspiring to love the work that we do? It’s madness!
In true planner fashion I sat down and slashed my budget. I prepared to live with less (goodbye, wine club) while putting in more hours at work. I researched the writing industry and started making connections through my blog and writing organizations. I hunted around for a part-time job that would keep me from landing directly in the poorhouse when writing opportunities were slim. Happily, I was lucky enough to find a job that not only fit the bill, but that I’m pretty crazy about.
Recently, I’ve started to get paid to write. Not a lot of money, and not a lot of jobs, but it’s a start. My flexible schedule allows me to coordinate community reading programs on a volunteer basis, and I’ve been able to do some work with a children’s theatre that I love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sparkles and rainbows. I am paying off my loans and saving up money more slowly. I have much less freedom to travel or spend money on other luxuries. I get more writing rejections than acceptances. But, when I take stock of it all, my life is much richer.
Barring some loophole that I’m not aware of, we only live once. I am not willing to spend nearly half of this precious life in a job that I don't love. I know I won't love writing every day (I already don’t), but I love it most days, and that’s a gift.
Doing what you love is always a risk worth taking. And that is the lesson that I am proud to have learned this year.
P.S. The post that started it all: My New Life as a Freelancer