The kindness of a co-worker
On Wednesday night, I met up with a friend and former colleague for a long overdue catch-up. She’s had a head start on me in the freelance world, having transitioned to the “dark side” in January of this year.
I say “dark side” because, for a lot of people, simply uttering the word “freelance” can fill them with dread. It’s the age-old fear of the unknown – sometimes rational, sometimes not so much. It requires a leap of faith; moving away from the relative security and comfort of a full-time role, in order to satisfy that niggling, unrelenting need to really challenge yourself.
Sure, we could all persist with “proper jobs”, and perhaps come to resent the one-time cushy notion of the 9-to-5 at a point further down the line. But why wait?
Of course, freelancing isn’t for everyone. It’s terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure. Every single day will pose new challenges which you may or may not be prepared for. Some elements will be completely new to you (learning about tax returns, anyone?), but in my first week living in this new world I have found myself enveloped by a reassuring familiarity.
My role hasn’t changed. I still spend my days working on creative projects that inspire me; taking time to strategise, to research, to develop, to deliver. That leap of faith isn’t diving in to some unknown realm where everything is upside down and back to front. It’s about having faith in yourself and your abilities. In order to thrive in this environment, I need to be confident in my skillset and trust that the 10-plus-years I spent working within marketing and communications will stand me in good stead.
It’s a CV cliché, but I have regained my thirst for knowledge. I want to learn new skills. I want to specialise. I want to grow my business and, more importantly, I want to grow myself.
I am, by nature, ambitious, but that ambition is not fulfilled by money in the bank or a large team of reports. My ambition is to be the best possible version of myself – to know what I’m talking about, to help others and to feel completely satisfied with my output each and every single day. No excuses.
It’s a tough summit to scale, and I have a long way ahead of me, but the heady altitudes at which I now traverse have given me clarity of thought beyond what I’ve ever experienced within the relative safety and comfort of base camp.
Accompanying me on the arduous trek to the top is the friend I met for dinner. She’s twenty paces ahead of me; more acclimatised and better equipped. She is blazing the trail and I’m happily following in her footsteps.
To mark the occasion, she presented me with an unexpected gift – a thoughtfully packaged mug bearing my initial “N”.
“I have a thing for mugs”, she said. “Every new era needs one.”
And so, I’ll be sat at my desk in the weeks, months and years to come sipping from a mug that will remind me of the leap that I have taken, and of one particular co-worker whose small act of kindness has made a big difference to my first week as a freelancer. Thanks SF - I always said you were a good egg! x