We are buying a house today. My freelance writer self and independent musician husband have an appointment to close at 10am, after which we will move into our adorable 1938, 4-bedroom Cape Cod with detached two-car garage and a half-acre of land.
When I quit my job, back in 2010, I was working for a board, and therefore had to go around to ten different people, all of them at least 20 years my senior, to tell them I was not only leaving my position as their director, but I was doing so to work for myself, as a writer. They were all very kind and supportive, and, I could also tell, quietly concerned. I was trading a secure, public sector job with great benefits for what appeared to be essentially a non-job – in a terrible economy. They all liked me and wanted me to succeed, but I could see they couldn’t visualize how “freelance writer” and “success” had any potential to overlap. When my then-fiancé followed suit the next year, leaving his high school teaching job after eight years, we only seemed crazier.
To be fair, we are still crazy. We work crazy hard, we still make decisions some probably consider to be crazy and we are crazy happy with our life. Perhaps the craziest thing of all is that it’s working. Leaving my secure job felt like a risk, but if I was still working there, or in an equivalent position, I don’t know if I could afford to buy a house right now. I know I couldn’t afford the house we’re buying today.
Before this spirals into the braggiest rant ever (is stating that you’re not a miserable failure bragging?), I’ll get to my point: freelancing is, indeed, a valid career. I realize, now that 34% of the American workforce is made up of freelancers, that this isn’t the outrageous statement it used to be. But because four years ago, I sat behind the desks of those board members and felt their kind skepticism, it still feels pretty shocking to me.
So here’s to freelancing. We may not be globetrotting-successful, or Malibu-beach-house-successful, but to us, a place-of-our-own-successful feels pretty good. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some keys.