When people refer to something as a roller coaster of emotion, I assume they mean the three and a half hours of feeling like you’re going to die waiting in line for the ride, followed by 45 seconds of pure adrenaline, just to get off the platform and do it all again. Maybe it would be more accurate to call it the “Cedar Point of emotion”: Once you get to the roller coaster, you forget all your worries in the rush until the ride stops, the air becomes stale again, and you look out at a future of thumb-twiddling for an indefinite period.
A week of freelancing is like a full day at a theme park. All told, my first week went pretty well.
- I booked or completed $1,000 worth of work (!!!).
- I discovered how hot it gets in an un-air-conditioned apartment at noon in late July in Milwaukee.
- I worked from my porch, my bed, my couch and the local blissfully air-conditioned library.
- I had one emotional meltdown — freaked out by the loneliness and change.
- I took an important phone call while half naked and hungover.
- I went rock climbing for two hours in the middle of the day because I could.
- I did more laundry in a week than I typically do in a month, because I’m actually home long enough to see a load all the way through to the dryer in one go.
- The local news interviewed me live at 6:50 a.m. on a Sunday about quitting my job.
While it’s not quite the millennial dream of “sitting on a coach, getting drunk and making money!!!” that one of my friends expressed ever-so-eloquently, it’s a job. And it feels like a dream, one of those weird ones where you’re sure you’re in your house but it’s definitely not your actual house. Does that make it a dream job?
There’s something about working for yourself that takes away all the appeal of browsing Facebook during the day. When your livelihood is on the line, and you’ve got the option of building something that’s purely your own, the thought of spending even a minute in mindless browsing seems criminal.
Of course, I’m reminded that any amount of success I attain is not, and never will be “purely my own.” Already my business owes 80 percent of its leads to the popularity of my quitting-my-job blog on LinkedIn, after the network’s editors decided to feature it in a Monday morning email to users all over the globe. I owe my productivity to the free wifi at the library and the local coffee shop Colectivo. I lean on the credibility of the Milwaukee Business Journal when meeting with locals about potential gigs. And dozens of strangers from all over the world have contacted me to share their stories and voice their support for my career change.
My to-do list is a mile long, and includes things like registering my business, hiring an accountant, and attempting to not defraud the government. It also includes activating my hot yoga membership, and scheduling time for my passion projects, because to my surprise, just working for myself does not actually guarantee instant work-life balance.
Here’s to pursuing my passion and finding that balance!