I remember years ago when someone said they were self employed, it was just a fancy way of saying unemployed. Just like entrepreneur – it was just a fancy word to cover the fact that you didn’t have a job. We see it in movies all the time. The girl is looking for the dream guy, and runs into someone in a bar who looks promising – fancy suit, slicked back hair, cellphone in hand, looking really professional and put together with the charming smile. And then he says he’s an entrepreneur. The girl rolls her eyes and walks away, thinking that this schmuck is probably still living with his mom.
Well let me tell you, times have changed. Self Employed no longer is a negative thing. Today, Self Employed means Self Empowered. You take charge of your life. Rather than looking for the dream job, you’ve built one. You work hard and you don’t shy away from a challenge. You have freedom to do what you want. You could drop everything and go to the movies at noon if you really wanted to. But you wouldn’t, because you’d rather be working. In fact, you probably work harder than any regular employee, because you’re your own boss, and your boss is tough. Being self employed means working really, really hard, and never giving yourself a pat on the back.
The only problem is that the old shame and mentality around saying that you are self employed still exists. People ask you what you do and you smile, maybe laugh a little, before saying ‘I’m self employed’. And then you feel the need to explain yourself. You give a quick summary of what it is you do, followed by a little defence of how you manage to support yourself. I’ve done it myself, far too many times. I hang my head a little lower when telling people that I’m self employed. I make jokes about how I won’t be able to make rent because I don’t have a steady paycheque. I act like being self employed is just a back up plan.
Well, I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’m proud to be self employed. I’m a freelance designer and I’ve been working hard to become one. I’m proud of that. I’m also scared. I’m scared that I won’t be able to make rent, I’m scared that I’ll fail at something I’ve put so much work into. I’m scared that I’ll be forced back into a job I hate. I’m scared that for the first time in my adult life I won’t have a regular paycheque coming in every other Thursday. But I’m also proud of that fear. Proud that I’m taking chances, and following my dreams.
Something I’ve realized only recently, is that fear doesn’t have to mean shame. I can be scared of failure without having to be ashamed of it. I’m proud to be self employed. I’m not self employed because I couldn’t find a job after school, or because I have kids and need to stay at home with them, I’m self employed because I choose to be. And I love it.
The strange thing is, that even though I laugh a little and get embarrassed when telling people that I’m a self employed freelance designer, they are really impressed. It’s not a movie where people think I’m lazy or unemployed – people are really interested in what I do. They want to know more about it and I’m happy to tell them. They’re jealous that I get to make my own hours and live life exactly as I want to.
So from now on, when people ask what I do. I’m going to proudly say that I’m a self employed freelance designer. And people will think that’s awesome, because I think it’s awesome. And if they ask for more information, I’ll be excited to tell them what I do, handover my business card, and smile. Self employed is the new self empowered. And anyone who is lucky enough to be self employed should feel amazing about it. I do.