Some back story first. It was something I’d been planning to do for a while now. I wanted OUT. Out of the rat race, and office politics. I longed to be free, to travel and share my experiences or not travel and share my experiences. I wanted the choice for myself dang it. I’d been working for over twenty-five years in the I.T. industry, mostly as a high-level “Desktop Analyst” or an “Application Support Specialist.” These titles for the uninitiated are a polite way of saying they paid me a lot to fix people's computers. I knew the daily frustration of driving into a job I knew I didn’t want to be at doing something I’d lost my passion for a long time ago, only to collect a paycheck that had too much taken out of it. It was like a not so subtle reminder that my soul was being leached from my life.
I had been having my own midlife crisis now for almost two years. I wasn’t sure what it was I wanted to do. It was something I’d been contemplating for some time. I couldn’t think of anything else I was either qualified or passionate about that would put food on the table and roof over the table. I have always loved cooking, always loved being a product evangelist for products and gadgets that I’ve found over the years. Neither of these two choices was going to work as far as food on the table or a roof overhead. This dilemma only added to my frustrations and growing despair.
It wasn’t until when I was driving into work one day thinking about the parts of my job I stilled liked when it hit me. I’d always written about I.T. I was never paid for it, but it was something I enjoyed doing. I’d started writing a “Ask the Computer Guy” column back when I worked in City Government. I’d been writing and posting reviews of products and gadgets for years since then. Something inside clicked, and I started to feel an excitement immediately, maybe it was hope, I’m not sure. Either way, I knew I had an out. I’d become a full-time paid Writer. Almost immediately I thought to myself, how am I going to sell this to my husband? I could hear the conversation clear as day in my head before I’d even brought the idea home to him. “You’re going to do What for a living?” “Are you completely insane?” I, in turn, retorted internally in one of those internal conversations that you sometimes have, “Why yes, as a matter of fact, I’m not there yet, but insanity and my frustration have already set a date!!”.
Now How to Sell this?
I have always believed things happen when they are supposed to. Work continued, I didn’t immediately bring my Writing Idea back home right away. I stewed on the idea, did some research about how to get started as a writer, all of the usual things you’d do when transitioning. I doubted my idea and then fell in love with it all over again, sometimes in the same day. Well, I did bring the idea back to my husband who props to him approached it much more gingerly (maybe he could see my fuse was already primed?) than I expected. He wasn’t really on board and made a load of other suggestions that all fell completely flat with me.
Another week went by without me doing anything. The Universe proposed its own helpful nudge in the form of my Supervisor. He showed up unexpectedly only to share with me that the person I’d been training was being made the Lead I.T. for the Office. The same Office I had not only was running on my own for the majority of my tenure there. This was also the Office that I had also moved three times in the space of six months. That I had run on my own for more than a year, I can’t quite honestly say I’ve ever experienced that rare combination of furry and laughter at the same time. I was happy for my co-worker. It was also true that my ego was bruised, and a bit hurt at the slight that had been thrown my way. Their actions were as clear a sign as I was going to get. If there were any doubt at all about what direction I needed to go in it evaporated after I got home that night and shared what had happened. My husband didn’t see the humor in the situation; he did sign-on with what I knew my course was going to be. So I picked October 1st as the day I’d walk into work and give notice that their services as my employer were no longer required.
I was practically giddy that morning, a slight case of the butterflies was also present. I had already written my resignation letter for H.R. I had no intention of giving them two weeks, why should I? California is an at-will employer, and frankly, from my perspective, their actions showed a distinct lack of respect for efforts and loyalty.
I don’t recall now if I called my Supervisor or if I emailed him first. Either way, everything happened rather quickly. Ahhh yes now I remember, I sent him the email first, then called him a few minutes later to confirm he had received it. It read in part; This letter is to inform you that today will be my last day working here, I no longer require this organizations employment. Best of Luck. I called him because it had been my experience that anyone that gave notice was swiftly shown a cardboard box and the front door. Since they were required to pay me for the whole day, I was happy to stay the remainder of the day, or I could leave earlier if they’d like. They chose the latter.
The Next Chapter Begins
The drive home was euphoric, not because I had delivered some small measure of payback. The joy I felt driving home was because I had reclaimed the reigns of my career, my day to day happiness back.
I had chosen to give myself a few days off to adjust to the new day to day reality. It felt indulgent by day two. I was seriously bored out of my skull. I had to start writing, but how and for who. Who was going to pay me to write for them? These ARE questions you would think someone changing careers would have considered. I had thought about them, a lot, and I had a plan that I now had to put into effect.
I would start up my blog again, and I would find writing contracts through Upwork.com and Freelancer. I would answer ads for everything and anything that was going to get me writing. In the next article, I’ll share with you how all of that has gone. What I’ve learned works and more importantly, what I’ve learned doesn’t work. The writing tools that I’ve adopted as if they were my children.
I have been doing this now Full-Time for a year. There has been some success as well as periods of frustration. I am published, and I’ve gotten paid pretty decently for what I’ve written. More importantly, my reason for sharing my story as a beginning Freelance writer is because I’ve had so many conversations with people who are longing to do something different with their life. They want to reach for the stars, get paid to do that thing they love more than anything. I hope my story serves as an inspirational starting point to have that conversation with yourself.