I spent the past two weeks working on my first freelance project. I’ve worked 9 out of 10 years of my professional career as a writer, but never dipped my toe into the freelance world. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to pay everything off and really put some money away for my retirement since we’re being told there’s a good chance we’ll lose our pension. The past two weeks have also been my busiest at work. I can’t get caught up and I feel like I’m drowning on a daily basis. It’s our busy season. But, I worked on the freelance job as soon as I walked in the door at night. I submitted the work Saturday, and received a message from the buyer that my work was shit (not his words). But he did say that it was unusable and gave me a poor rating. And refused to pay me. OUCH.
His words stung, and that’s putting it mildly. I felt like a failure. Like a piece of shit. It sucked the wind out of me.
I’m not super sensitive – I put myself out there on social media, so I’m used to ugly words. But this attacked my work. I doubt myself a lot, but I’m good at my job. Really good. I’m a self-taught tech writer. I can point out an error a mile away. But poor communication with someone I’ve never met made me reconsider all of my positive traits. I convinced myself that I was a terrible writer and worker. That my job keeps me around only because I show up everyday. That my blog is garbage. That I am garbage.
I had another post planned for today, but felt I had to share my experience (as embarrassed as I am about it). I let a stranger ruin my weekend. J and I enjoyed the weather and worked around the house on Saturday, and I got to spend Sunday with my family, including my sister who is visiting from Hilton Head. It was a gorgeous weekend. I shopped at Target and picked up some fun decor for the house. I walked a lot. But I let the opinion of one person derail all of the good. And I refuse to live my life that way.
The truth is, we’re all going to fail more than we succeed. We’ll be told we’re not good enough. We’ll get fired. It’s heart-wrenching and can feel like the end of the world. But it isn’t. I reminded myself of that fact after my initial breakdown. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life. There will be people who appreciate my work. There will be people who appreciate me. But you can’t please everyone. Not everyone will like you. Or your work. Or your blog. And that’s okay. That’s a hard concept to grasp for a people-pleaser like me.
I often share that I think you should go for your dreams, and I stand behind that sentiment always. Life is hard enough, but it’s even harder if you’re miserable in your career. If you give up you’ll remain stuck. You’ll never get anywhere, professionally or personally, if you’re constantly afraid to fail. If you’re scared to be uncomfortable. If you’re afraid of negative feedback.
Instead of giving up after this failure, I choose to keep going. I ripped off the bandaid and I survived. It was terrible. But I’m still here.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you get past it?