Making It Happen, Part Two

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HI GUYS! Sorry for disappearing. Life is very…full right now. As most of you know thanks to social media and my inability to blog in a timely manner, last week was my first week at my new job as the senior graphic designer at Karen Kimmel Studios. Telling people I’m moving from freelance to a full time job has elicited a wide variety of surprised faces and the face I dread the most – that twinkle of “oh, freelancing was going terrible for you” look in some eyes. Freelancing full time certainly was not lucrative – I made almost half what I made at my job before I went freelance – but I had expected and prepared for that, and by owning your own business in an expensive city standards, I was doing well. I could have kept on chugging along at the rate I was going for a few more years. We are comfortable and lucky, but I have no retirement plan, my insurance plan doubled in price this year, and the future felt so uncertain. But I could have dealt with that, I’m crafty. But what started to tug at me was this lack of purpose and focus. I thought freelancing meant only taking the jobs you want to take on – and you can certainly do that, unless you want to live somewhat comfortably. I missed the sense of community in working for a company that you want to better, I missed coworkers, I missed leaving the house, I missed structure. Having a studio helped briefly, and lord knows Katie helped me immensely with idea bouncing and keeping me company, but none of it was quite right. It wasn’t ever terrible – don’t get me wrong – it just didn’t feel right.

One day I had a complete meltdown that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and was tired of my financial and mental future, when Will told me: “look for a job”. This is a really similar conversation to ours five years ago when he told me to find a hobby and I ended up starting my jewelry line. I am stubborn and don’t like being told what to do, so I immediately told him that was out of the question – I loved freelancing and making my own schedule, and besides, we just got a damn dog. A high energy, needs lots of attention dog. He told me that I didn’t seem to love freelancing, making your own schedule is a luxury we can’t always have, and the dog was not allowed to dictate our lives like that. People with jobs have dogs. I was still grumpy about it, but eventually looked and came across this listing. It sounded perfect, it was a company I knew and loved, I was terrified. I was fairly certain I was qualified and somewhat confident I was perfect for it and it for me, but did I want this? I did so much soul searching. Like, so. much. soul. searching.

During all this soul searching I came to realize a few things that I think may resonate with some of you. This creative field world we live in – this blogging as a career, self-made Etsy supposed successes, follow your bliss mentality world – it can create a mentality that full time jobs are lame. That we should all be aspiring to working for ourselves and owning our own businesses. Joanna put it really nicely in her post about going back to full-time employment: I feel like it’s really popular right now to proclaim ‘yay freelancing,’ but when it comes down to it, it’s not for everyone. And I’m not saying that it’s not for me, because I actually think that someday in the future I will probably give it a go again, I’m just saying that it’s not the greatest creative achievement and not the only destination your creative path can lead to. I see a lot of people leave their jobs when they’re not ready for the leap, and a lot of people burn out quickly because of that. A handful of years ago there was such a rush of everyone quitting their jobs to live their dreams, but dreams change. Goals need to grow and shift, and some of us succeed in different ways. I’m starting to feel a little rumbling lately from some fellow freelancers that they’ve been thinking more about full time jobs, but I think a lot of people have a bit of an internal and external hurdle of unnecessary shame to overcome. Of knowing that so many people are not sharing their self-run business despair and pain, that working for someone else doesn’t have to equal a squashing of creative energy or personal growth, that nothing is forever.

I left a brainstorm last week at work feeling high. Buzzing with excitement over being around such awesome creative people doing awesome creative things. And that’s all it comes down to, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future and what it may hold. Sure, I’m not going to lie, it’s hard going from working on my own time for three years to being somewhere for a set number of hours everyday, but structure is good for me and I will adjust. Besides, I was starting to hold way too many one-way conversations with my pets.


  1. says

    Absolutely loved this post. As I am in the middle of my own soul searching right now, your words gave me a new and fresh perspective. So thank you for that and best of luck to you Kate!

  2. says

    As someone who generally loves their full-time job, I find this post to be so refreshing. When I have bad days at work, it’s easy to read through post after post from people who quit their day jobs and experienced their best life ever… but it’s helpful to remember that’s not the only story out there. Thank you! And congrats on the new job.

  3. Anu says

    I generally do not comment on blog posts, but just chanced on this one as I was coming back (yet again) for your chocolate chip cookie recipe (love the write up, made it a few times already, and love the cookies). I am kind of at that stage of life where I am taking a pause, not been working for the past 6 months and been working from home for the past 4 years prior to that. As you said, I missed the structure and dynamics in the workplace while working from home, but most I missed was the human interaction. You discount it’s effect initially, no more Monday morning blues, flexibility in schedules, decreased distraction, more productivity, but somehow your life seems missing something, a little empty. Part of it might have to do with personality types too, I am not an extrovert by nature, so I don’t seek out people. At the end of the day, I just wanted to get out of the house while my spouse came back to it.

    I’ve been taking a break now to spend time with my little one and for introspection to decide on my course of life – whether to study, start a venture or stay at home for a while. Your post struck a chord, it’s true, it seems the world is becoming more a work-for-yourself kind of place, and you wonder if that’s what you should be doing as well, living and working on your terms. As for me, I am wondering if I should be wasting time with self-ventures that may never be as remunerative as the job I am skilled to do and at the end of the day may prove to be more stressful.

  4. says

    This is such an inspiring post. I currently work a “real” job and fantasize about freelancing, so it is good to see both sides of it. I’m glad you found a company that you love working for! And your pup will be fine :)

  5. says

    once again, thank-you for keepin’ it real kate.

    sounds like you’re at the right place, in the right gig, and making the right decisions for this time in your life. you got to just follow your gut and do what feels right for you (most especially as a creative person, sometimes those decisions can be such a dogfight).

    oh, and as someone w/ a full time desk gig – your pup will be just fine (that’s what ‘daycamp’ is for!)… xo

  6. greygrey says

    congrats on your new job! i actually really like the structure of working full time. you know when you’ll be at work, and the rest of the time is yours to do what you want. pretty much all my friends who are musicians or artists are always running around, working 2 days at one place, 1 day at another etc to give themselves “freedom” to work on their art, but they end up running themselves ragged and have no time for anything. i’ve found that odd i’m actually the one with the freedom.
    hope you continue to be inspired and love your new job. thanks for your blog all these years, i’m a longtime reader.

  7. Nicole says

    I just wanted to say that even though I have never freelanced as a designer as my “full-time” job, this post really resonated with me.

    The dream is to work for yourself (I have longed dreamed of doing this but something always held me back) but I, like you, need structure and I enjoy working with people do develop myself and my skills. I like working on a team and bouncing ideas and seeing other designer’s perspectives.

    Thank you for your honesty and openness on your blog! It is refreshing and much appreciated to read about the downfalls as well as the successes of creative workers.

  8. says

    Love that you made this tough decision that you’re totally happy with! That’s the key…you’re happy. And when you’re not happy, you’ll change things to be happy again. I went through the I’m-a-failure-because-I-don’t-want-to-run-my-own-business-anymore blues, but got over it (a year later, and it’s amazing. Hope you love your new job!

  9. says

    “This creative field world we live in – this blogging as a career, self-made Etsy supposed successes, follow your bliss mentality world – it can create a mentality that full time jobs are lame.” < This. Thank you for this post and for congrats on the new job. I think you're going to do great. My husband freelanced for a year, and while he was successful at getting jobs, it could be totally isolating and the lack of structure (the demands of overnight jobs throwing off sleep) was not good for him or us. I may not love my full time job all the time, but I'm grateful that it allows me to work on my own creative projects.

  10. says

    I’m so proud of you for not only getting an awesome job, but also being able and willing to make a change that’s right.
    In the meantime, Peg, Wendy, June and I will be starting a book club to keep ourselves busy.

  11. Amber says

    “This creative field world we live in – this blogging as a career, self-made Etsy supposed successes, follow your bliss mentality world – it can create a mentality that full time jobs are lame…I’m starting to feel a little rumbling lately from some fellow freelancers that they’ve been thinking more about full time jobs, but I think a lot of people have a bit of an internal and external hurdle of unnecessary shame to overcome”

    Yep. This mind set is definitely something I’ve started to be critical of lately and I even wince a bit when I hear the words “follow your passion”. I think as more and more people start to be honest about their freelance experiences, folks will start to understand that this career path comes with its highs and lows as well.

    Anywho, congrats on your new job!!! and thanks for your honest post.

  12. says

    Congratulations Kate! It all sounds so exciting and I wish you tons of success with the new (and amazing) gig. Im glad I caught you before you were off the market :) I continue to struggle with this every single day – thank you for sharing. xo.

  13. says

    This post really struck a cord with me. For years I’ve been battling the freelance vs. full-time battle. While the freelance works for some I don’t think it’s a cure-all for everyone in terms of work environment. It’s great to see you following what you think is best instead of sticking with something you weren’t happy with right now.

  14. Mary Lou Landry says

    I think I could have written this post word for word. I am still freelancing. I have a traveling spouse and the flexible work days tips the balance in favor of freelance. But I miss the community and structure of an outside office. Sometimes it makes me sad to see all the rush hour folks coming home when I know I have to put in a few more hours at my desk. Everything has a trade-off. And your pooch will be fine. Even though I am at home, my dog sleeps all day. Good luck with the new job!

  15. says

    Congrats on the new job! I’ve found the same thing, that working for a company you actually like and support makes all the difference. For a while I had dreams of doing photography full time, but decided against it because a) I like and need full health benefits and a 401k is nice, and b) I know myself, and I do much better working with structure and people to report to. So I changed jobs, but just to one that paid more and was I company I enjoy working for and people I actually like. And I still keep photography on the side, but mostly as a personal outlet rather than a real money maker. :) Plus, sometimes you have to go down the road a bit before realizing that you need to turn at the next fork, right? ;)

  16. says

    P.S. I hope you still have time/energy in the future to do another portraits/braids day. I’m dying for a new portrait and would be thrilled if you were behind the camera!

  17. riye says

    I’m a part-time artist and any time people (usually younger) ask for advice I tell them that if they have other marketable skills–get a day job. That way you really can say “no” to projects that don’t excite you. Freelancing is not for me. I like my day job and appreciate the greater security it offers me (i.e., insurance!). Plus I got into art late in life and I’m at that point where I need more security. You can still make beautiful things even if being a maker is not your full-time job. It’s not easy. But I think the juggling act is worth it.

    Congratulations on your new job!! :-)

  18. says

    Good post and I agree that freelancing is not for everyone. I’ve been freelancing full time for over 5 years now and there are definitely times when I think about going back to a full-time job. It can seem like the grass is greener on the other side type of deal.

  19. says

    Loved reading this – thanks for sharing and keeping it real. One of the things I keep telling myself, particularly as I’m now in my 30s, is that it’s OK to change my mind. Just because I thought I wanted one thing, doesn’t mean I have to always want it. Things change and I change. It’s so important to always be re-evaluating what we want.
    I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how what we do in this media-centric, creative world is judged (by ourselves and others). My job in policy isn’t ‘cool’, but I like it and think it’s important, so I just remind myself that that’s enough.
    I’m so pleased that this is a big positive for you, hats off xx

  20. says

    THANK YOU. I’m a copywriter working full-time at an advertising agency and I get so many looks or pity when I tell people I’ve got a 9-5 job. There are ups and downs to everything, but I think the conversation needs to switch from “What makes you happy?” to “What kind of struggle do you want to have?”

  21. says

    Ah, what a refreshing post.

    Well done for taking another leap and having a successful landing. Regardless of how our creative day pans out, it is true that structure and face-to-face interaction is an important element for some people. I went through a stage recently of feeling like I was ‘supposed to’ come up with an entreprenurial venture, an Etsy shop or a freelance gig… simply because I love being creative. But I’ve since learned that I can use those energies and skills in all sorts of situations, including working for someone else.

    I think this will resonate with a lot of women who are working full- or part-time, who have been feeling a little uncomfortable these days for not creating an Etsy shop or keeping up freelancing, as it’s the common message we’re being been bombarded with from the media (and blogs specifically). If I read one more happiness blog…!

    I love that we have so many options these days, but with that comes confusion and a feeling of responsibility to make the right choice. I like to say that variety is the spice of life. A cliche perhaps, but case in point – you are now loving the new change.

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