The Universe Made Me Do It: How I Started Freelancing

I am a person who believes in signs. I own crystals and tarot cards and pay attention to the cycles of the moon. I light candles and incense and I burn sage. I believe in manifestation and the power of our thoughts. I believe in energy and vibes. I believe in signs. But I’m also not always great about listening to what those signs are trying to tell me.

Like that time back in May when a flock of crows set up camp on my roof. At first, there was only one, picking up a rock and dropping it onto the skylight, over and over and over, like if she was persistent enough, the glass would break, and she could fly right in. I say she because that bird was on a goddamn mission and she wasn’t going to let a little thing like a literal glass ceiling stop her. And like any bad bitch trying to accomplish something, when she saw it wasn’t working, she went and recruited her girl gang. First, it was two or three, and then more, until a fucking murder of crows had convened on my roof to knock on the skylight and scare the crap out of my cat on a daily basis.

Now, me being the spiritual, woo-woo believer that I am. I thought, hey that’s super creepy, I wonder what crows symbolize. As with most symbols, there are multiple different traditions and beliefs surrounding crows. But basically every single one of them mentions one of two things: bad news and death. Goodie.

In Tarot, Death symbolizes transformation, change, and endings. Which isn’t always a bad thing. As scary as change can be, it’s necessary for life and nothing ever gets better by staying the same. So that was the mindset with which I received these creepy crows and their message of doom. Something was about to change! Considering, I was still at a job that I hated and was thinking about quitting, that seemed like a pretty great thing…until I got let go. I told you that crow was on a mission.

Creepy birb has a very important message for you

I thought about the crows again this week when I confirmed my first retainer client for the freelance marketing and communications work I recently started doing. It was almost absurdly easy. Forrest started a new full-time job and was too busy to keep up with the freelance work he’d been doing over the summer. He suggested I take over the work for him and since I’d just gotten the final no on a job I’d been up for (and really wanted) I thought, what the hell I’ve got bills to pay. Which is how I picked up two freelance clients without having to lift a finger.

It sounds a lot like an overnight success. I literally did not have to do anything to start working with these clients except say, “yea, okay.” They came to me, which is not just unheard of, it’s a fucking freelancer fairy tale. But that’s not what made me think of the crows. I was reminded of them because this felt like getting to the top of a mountain and realizing that all the obstacles and detours that I’d bitched about on the way up here, were pushing me towards a path I was too blind or afraid to take on my own.

This story doesn’t actually start in December with me missing out on The Job. It doesn’t even start in May when the crows show up and I got fired. Maybe it even starts as far back as the day I walked into an interview with the woman who would become my boss and my mentor for three years. Certainly, the job that I was eventually hired for gave me all the skills, expertise, and credibility that allowed me to demand top-dollar for my freelance work. But in my mind, the moment this story starts—a moment I forgot about until Forrest brought it up a couple weeks ago—is last year when my then-manager told me she was leaving to start her own consulting company. She couldn’t afford to hire me, but maybe one day in the future she could bring me on as a consultant. But in the meantime, I should think about striking out on my own. She thought I could more than make up my agency salary freelancing or consulting for a couple different clients. At the time, I laughed it off. I’d done freelancing before and hated being my own manager, accountant, and acquisitions team. Besides, I’d just been promoted and was about to lead the team she was giving up. I was just fine with my salary, health insurance, and retirement benefits, thank you very much.

Fast-forward eighteen months and suddenly, like it was a brand-new idea, the thought occurred to me that maybe I could actually do this. After all the slammed doors, all the no’s and the “we’re going with another candidate” emails, I had no desire to dive back into job searching. So…why not? It was worth a try. And anyway, if there’s one thing working at an agency taught me, it was the literal dollar value of my time and work. I could practically do the math in my head. And I could write. In between press releases and social media content, there would be hours and hours that no one had purchased, that I owed to no one. And I could use that time to do what I really love: write. Oh yea, this could work.

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