On going freelance and facing fears

I have a confession to make. I hear voices.

Well, I say voices but there’s really only one. And as for hearing, most of the time it chats away without my conscious acknowledgement. On and on it goes, unchecked and unquestioned. Therein lies the problem.

I’m talking about the voice of resistance. The sound of my own mind telling me why I can’t, do, be or create this, that or the other. It’s the thing that gets in between me and the fullest possible version of myself. Like its cousin self-doubt it’s born of fear and is resisting not the shadows within, but the light.

I figured I’d silenced it. Last year I quit a stable, well-paid job that was making me unhappy, set up as a freelancer and returned to the country of my birth to make a film.

I’d wanted to do these things for a long time but I resisted. When I stopped resisting it all happened, so I thought my work was done. But that’s the thing about the voice of resistance, it comes at you all the time.

It’s perhaps inadvisable to admit this on my business blog – I should probably project an air of unflinching confidence – but every time I start a new project, that negative little voice is right there beside me, resisting positivity and telling me that I can’t do what experience has proved over and over again that I can.

What is that about? I do good work. I get great feedback. And yet there’s always this lingering uncertainty, this sense that I’m a fraud.

Stranger still is the fact that it’s not really failure I fear, but success. Failure’s fine. It’s what the voice expects. Success on the other hand flies right in the face of everything it’s trying to tell me about myself.

Surely I am not alone here. Aren’t we all a bit afraid of ourselves? Fearful of claiming the fullest, most honest space that we can?

I work part time in a café. Until recently I told myself that this was because I enjoyed the social side. I like my colleagues and customers and writing can be lonely. It’s nice to get out and be around people. It’s also a way of hedging my bets, maintaining an alternative source of income in case I need something to fall back on.

There’s an element of truth in all of that but something truer runs beneath. I’m resisting. It’s not about having something to fall back on. It’s about stopping myself from falling forward, without resistance, into the life I have chosen. I’m getting in my own way.

German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe once said, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.”

I thought I was committed. Quitting your job to follow your heart sounds pretty committed right? Or maybe it just sounds clichéd. Either way, as long as I cultivate groundless fears then I’m not committed at all. I’m demonstrating hesitancy and resistance.

I don’t know if it’s possible to switch off the voice completely. Perhaps it’s just as integral as lungs and skin and maybe, on some level, the want to defy it drives me on. But it doesn’t know what it’s talking about and it really can’t be trusted. It is futile.

I’m turning the volume down.


29th April 2016

Kirsten Irving

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Jessica. This voice must seem so familiar to freelancers of all stripes. From what you’ve written, damn right the voice doesn’t know what it’s talking about in questioning your commitment. Unless your part-time work is not enjoyable, or is preventing you taking on things you really want to do, it’s valuable contact time and a good way to maintain some financial stability.

We’re always putting our best face on for the internet, and I think it’s really valuable that we admit when things about this career get us down. Rarely will you be the only person experiencing it. The best thing about PCN is the community it builds, and there’s enough work for us all to support each other. Recently, I found myself going stir-crazy working from home. A quick post on facebook asking if anyone else experienced this and fancied co-working has led to me spending far more enjoyable afternoons in the company of fellow lone guns. Putting your fears out there takes courage. Two thumbs up.

30th April 2016

Jessica Neill

Thank you Kirsten. That’s a lovely comment. I really appreciate it. I was fretting a bit after I submitted that post, thinking perhaps I’d over-shared. I have a tendency to do that!

Vulnerability can be uncomfortable but it also cuts to the core of who we are so avoiding it, or situations that make us feel it keenly, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you really think about it. The truth is the truth, it doesn’t need to become another fear.

Thanks again and have a great day.

30th April 2016

Emily Mumford

This wonderful article has encompassed exactly my situation right now…

Lovely to know it isn’t just me!

Thank you

2nd May 2016

Jessica Neill

Definitely not alone! Really glad you found it helpful.


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