Now that Home Improvement Fest 2009 is coming to a close, I’ve been left with a lot of time to think…which often leads to worry, which is not such a fun thing. I’m a natural worrier by nature, as opposed to Mark who is not, which is why it’s best for me to keep busy so my brain doesn’t wander too much and get into trouble. So what’s spurring the anxiety? Uncertainty. Worrying about our future in a general sense. I am still working sporadically on a long-term project, but for the first time in three years (which is a remarkable run I know) I don’t have any freelance work lined up on the horizon. A few things have recently fallen through or have gotten postponed so it’s caught me off guard financially. I’m used to that – nothing in freelance life is definite which is why you hoard money for the slow times – but you would think that after so many years of working independently I’d be used to this emotional rollercoaster ride. It takes a lot of effort, however, to mentally brush away any fatalistic thoughts (“I’m never going to find work again!!”) and remain positive. When you’re feeling vulnerable and down it’s hard to keep the faith that work will come again and it’s tiring to constantly hustle for jobs knowing that a good number of any prospects you’re working on will never come to pass. Sometimes I think you’d have to be mildly sadistic to be a freelancer – when it’s good it’s great, but when it’s not it pretty much sucks. So why do we do it? Remind me, all you freelancers out there, why do we live like this only to put up with an unreliable income flow, self-funded health insurance (don’t get me started on that – it is our largest expense after our mortgage – an outrageous $1227 a month) and periodic blows to your ego and self confidence? Sometimes I am not so sure.
So a few concrete things that I am working on to deflect the anxiety is to keep working on being busy. When I am swamped with work I often complain about not having any time to pursue other projects, personal and for the business, but ironically this anxiety grips like depression and I end up being too crippled by it to actually do anything creative. I’m trying to change that. The second thing is to get back on a budget. It’s true that we’ve fallen off the horse of our carefully drawn budget during the last year. Home Improvement Fest 2009 did not help. I used to be really militant about sticking to an impossibly tight budget, so much so that one of our friends joked that he was going to put a photo of me in his wallet and pull it out in moments of financial weakness and ask “what would Jenna do?”. I need to get back into that mentality of not making any purchases unless it’s absolutely necessary. Better for the wallet, better for the earth. It’s time to buckle down, people, and conserve for the lean times ahead while I find more work…wish us luck. I’ll try to remain positive in the meantime.