Are We There Yet?

Published on February 25, 2022

Are we there yet?

When I was a kid, my siblings and I needed to find ways to entertain ourselves on long car rides. We thought it was fun to "secretly plan" to ask my parents, in unison, and in that particular sing-song way, "Are we there yet?". Of course, we rarely were, and we knew that. And sure enough, the answer was always no. (More specifically, the answer was usually an interval of time measured in episodes of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, which somehow became the standard unit of measurement for long car rides in our family.)

But what, you might ask, does that anecdote have to do with programming, web development, freelance work, or literally anything else you might expect me to write about here?

The truth is, when I left my job to start down this whole freelance path, I had a vague sense of how long things might take. I didn't set myself any real hard deadlines, and I made sure that I was financially set up to be patient. But as with anything, the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft a-gley. Errm. Not quite sure what that last bit means. But the gist is clear. No matter how well you think you've planned, something will go wrong.

Not that anything has gone particularly wrong with my experience so far. I've actually been able to make more connections than I expected I'd be able to, without going down paths like cold-emailing businesses or being able to go to networking events in-person. I think, if you were to have asked me back in November how long it would take me to get my first gig, my answer would've been probably "A month or so of looking hard". Well, it's pretty much the end of February and we aren't quite there yet.

Not to say I haven't been busy, or that I'm not optimistic. I've had lots of productive, interesting conversations. I have a hunch that some of those conversations may result in some work, even if they've gone dormant for the time being. I'm allowing (forcing?) myself to be patient, and waiting for something that makes sense. I'm also trying to spend some of my days improving my skills, filling in gaps in my knowledge and experience that I've identified as priorities.

The truth is, I've been getting a bit bored lately. A bit antsy. I had kinda figured that by now, I'd be working. It's ok that I'm not, but it's also ok that I wish that I were. This whole experience so far has been a bit of a roller-coaster, but the important thing is, that's ok. I'm in this for the long haul. I don't want to just try freelancing to say that I've done it. I want to see if this is a sustainable lifestyle for me long-term. That's a big part of why I'm not rushing into anything. It's why I'm being patient. It's why, ultimately, I'm ok with being a bit bored right now. Learning to be comfortable with that boredom and uncertainty is something that's going to take some getting used to. Realistically though, if freelancing is something I want to do long-term, those are feelings that I'm going to need to get used to.

So where does that leave us. I've had to adjust a few expectations that I'd had for myself. One of the big things I'm trying to let go of is the idea that every day has to be filled with ~8ish hours of "work". What does that even mean anymore? Basically, nothing. I try to keep a routine, but I don't let myself feel bad if, on a given day (or days), I don't have it in me to buckle down and work. If I have a day where I'm not super productive, that's ok. The important thing is that I build this sustainably. I don't want to push myself to the point of burnout, or where I start to resent the routine.

This post has turned a little bit rambly, but I hope at least one of you might be able to take something useful from it. As always, keep well, and don't hesitate to reach out if anything resonates with you in particular!