I was never prepared for this life.
I thought I was.
I was filled with all the piss and vinegar it takes to not have a boss. To dream of daily freedoms. To work on my own terms.
But the application of that life is incredibly different. To think otherwise, without having done it yourself, is naive.
I used to love reading the conspiracy theories about how the U.S. Government has subconsciously institutionalized all of us by making us dependent on a system. How we’re trained Day 1 to always listen to someone other than ourselves and to always just do what’s right by society.
Since unplugging from the matrix for the past year, I can tell you, there is at least a shred of truth to those theories.
Being My Own Boss
I have never been my own boss. In a roundabout way, I have never had to make decisions on my own.
I went to school from K-12 plus 5 years of college with a schedule so packed with classes, activities, and sports, I couldn’t do anything but what someone else told me to do. After college, came 9 years of corporate managers bossing me around.
Who has time to do what they want when they’re under the finger of some manager for 8-12 hours or more of their day? And especially if you have a family to go home to that also requires your time and energy. What’s left for you??
I have always allowed other people to tell me how to live my life. In return for selling my freedom, I was given a consistent salary. That salary came with health insurance, not having to worry about bills, a seemingly unlimited entertainment budget, and pretty much any other financial commitment or crisis was a non-issue for me.
I was the epitome of single, no kids, no house, and more salary than I knew what to do with (except save as much as possible to quit my job and live in a van).
A Fair Trade
Since taking my freedom, they took away my salary. And my structure.
That’s ok as long as I could provide myself with clients and opportunities to make my own money.
But I can’t. My lead generation is pretty non-existent. My contracts have expired, except the writing outlets. I don’t even know where to look.
Craigslist? I found an ad looking for a Tinder writer to help with “securing sexy times” for $1.
Upwork? There are certainly leads there. If you’re willing to work on projects that come out to about $4/hr or less. People seem to want the equivalent of a VP of Marketing for the pay of a McDonald’s employee.
My personal network? I remain in close contact with people and keep my eyes open for them as well, but that hasn’t produced much regularity in referrals from either side. Certainly, to no fault of theirs.
I know for a fact I have the skill set and ability to perform the things I offer as a freelancer (I have the numbers to prove it), but without finding new contracts, that’s a pretty moot point.
An Inability to Leave
In addition to no new clients, the van that’s supposed to deliver me to freedom is now nothing but a money pit. It has been nothing but a money pit since I bought it, but it didn’t really seem like a big deal when I still had a cushy savings account and multiple clients. Now that I’m nearing the bottom of my savings, each $500 breakdown and $300 oil change is glaringly noticeable.
For these reasons, I’ve been scared.
Scared to truly live away from a city I’m familiar with. Scared to exit a place with 24/7 wifi. Scared to leave the security blanket of parking at a house where I know I’m welcomed inside. Scared to live outside the structure and safety of a corporate job.
I have Stockholm Syndrome
I have never not had money as an adult. Even when I made a terrible real estate investing mistake that led me to be $350k in debt, I still at least had consistent money coming in so I could plan for things. Now that consistent money is scarce, I’m running back to my kidnapper, begging them to chain me to a desk again. To plug me back into the matrix. To steal my freedom. Just so I can pay my bills and feel safe.
(To stave off the, “dude, money isn’t everything,” comments, I’m not talking about not being able to go out for beer with friends or having to shop at thrift stores. I’m talking major credit card debt and the $8k van I’ve sunk an additional $10k into — with more major problems on the way.)
I’ve just finished applying to 4 corporate jobs. I don’t know what that means for my future. As I apply for corporate jobs, I’m continually looking and hoping I can still find some freelancing gigs. That is still my number one focus. I don’t want to give up yet.
I’m not looking for an engineering salary as I take on freelance work, but I do need something consistent and something fair. I can handle not living up to my previous standard of living. That’s what I signed up for. But at this point, I can’t go on living with monthly expenses doubling monthly income. It won’t be long until I truly can’t afford food or fuel unless I open another credit card. And that’s not acceptable to me.
I need someone to tell me what to do.