“Do you wish to start something of your own someday or do you wish to work in a reputed company or brand, as we say it?”
“I don’t have it in me to be an entrepreneur. I’d definitely opt for a 9-5 job. Plus, I come from a middle class family. And I’m the oldest child.”
The above would have been the kind of conversation you’d have with me some three years back. Entrepreneurship was something I viewed, not with cynicism or mistrust, but with fear and doubts. I always thought being an entrepreneur meant being sociable, extrovert, cunning, super smart, money-minded and possessing the keen eye to read people and know their weaknesses (which could be exploited), not to forget a background or a degree in commerce and marketing.
Till one day, I found myself deciding to be a full-time freelance writer. 15 days post my last day at work, I was asked to freelance for the company I was laid off by, handling the somewhat similar responsibilities I was in charge of as an employee.
I did not think of myself as “someone doing my own thing.” For most, freelancing can never be a full time vocation as they tend to believe in the rudimentary idea of it being a side hustle; something you do when you are “taking some time off” before you could find another “proper job”. It was only when my gym trainer asked me if I was able to manage my finances (he must have guessed how horrible I am in Maths) did I think of it as something which I am taking complete responsibility of.
He said – “What else do you think it is? It’s your own business!” Scary! Isn’t business something shrewd people do?
You never know where life would land you. Two years ago, as I was eating lunch after an amazing interview for the post of guest faculty at the University I studied at, I got a call from the largest selling newspaper informing me that I was short-listed for the position of Copy Editor at their Bhubaneswar branch. I left the offers I received from my school and college for it thinking it to be something “permanent until I quit’’. Turns out it wasn’t so!
And that’s one of the primary reasons why having a side hustle is extremely important, no matter where you work or the number of times you are promoted. Nothing beats talent and skill which you need to cultivate on your own, regardless of the frequency of “free advice” you’d receive.
Opportunity comes to us in the most unexpected of moments and unless we are ready to take the plunge, nothing can save us.
I have been a subject of pity, ridicule and back-biting after losing my job. While the latter two were expected considering the environment I was working in where everyone was trying to save their asses, I didn’t understand why would anyone pity me in spite of the fact that they saw me all hale and hearty and would acknowledge “some kind of glow on my face”?
I knew what was going to happen to me, I could see the reduction in the number of stories I filed or articles I wrote and a sharp increase in the amount of excel sheets we would file every week filled with the most precise, accurate number of hours we put in any given work. All of these are signs that your days are numbered.
I had begun freelancing while I was an employee and also began upgrading my blog and joined Medium. I decided on going for the PhD coursework and get back to literature and all those seminars I missed in the last two years.
And thank God I did! After days of tension and anxiety at work, I decided I can either stay that away or try paddling to save myself, MY WAY. Why I say this? A lot of people have different definition of the phrase “struggle for survival”. It can either mean you look for better options outside or you can tap into someone’s weakness and try gaining their favour – a person of power who can save you when the ship sinks. Unfortunately, I could never be an ass kisser, hence I let that option go. Who knows how long the power stays with the person sitting inside that cabin?
When you do your own thing and not let people and their (usually uninformed, half-baked) opinions bother you, you will always be safer than the rest. Being a freelancer, handling multiple projects together, streamlining work, managing my budget and employing the skills I learnt during my employment as a Copy Editor is taxing but way more satisfying than anything I ever did. You learn the importance of saving money and putting it to better use and also planning your budget accordingly. Money dries up soon enough and you got to keep it coming. Learning how to do that is a life-saving skill. I’m finally learning the ropes of it. I’m learning time management, to be patient, to deal with different types of people. And it is immensely satisfying.
I was taught contentment is the key to happiness. If I can be even half way there, I will call my career a truly fruitful one.
Sure, its challenging, but being new to it gives me all the liberty to learn, unlearn, make mistakes and progress. And that will be an experience in itself.
If that is not something to look forward to, I don’t know what else is!