“Don’t you get bored and lonely and watch Netflix all the time?” My extroverted friend asked me with a quizzical look.
“Nope, nope, and nope,” I replied.
I quit my full-time corporate job late last year, much to the shock of my family. I had a shiny job as deputy editor of a magazine and content manager of a leading women’s website. I actually loved the work itself – as an INFP personality type, I loved telling people’s stories and playing with words for a living. It was a dream gig.
But, in reality, I hated going to the office every day. My manager was a massive extrovert, and even her presence made me tense. I’d be mind-deep in writing and constantly interrupted. Meetings were unpleasant and distracted me from my work, and I loathed the kitchen small talk. Oh, and there were also many team brainstorming days (just hearing the word “brainstorm” is enough to make most introverts shake in their slippers).
Managing People Was Not My Thing
Last year, I was promoted to Acting Head of Communications when my boss went on maternity leave, and I suddenly found myself managing a team, which I was horrible at. I’d eschew conflict at all costs, and one time I found myself running a strategy day, which was one of the worst work days of my life. I was so nervous that I got no sleep the night before. Grossly unprepared, I stammered and sweaty-palmed my way through seven hours. Turns out, I’m not a “strategy” person. I like making puns and writing poems. How on earth did I end up here? I wondered.
I made a huge mistake at the time thinking there was something desperately, horribly wrong with me. I felt awkward around colleagues and terrible at leading others. In a one-on-one with the CEO, I once cried because I felt the pressure was all too much, and then felt foolish and ashamed — I’d seen other people step up as head of a department with ease. I wish I had taken the time to be kinder to myself. I was a shy subeditor and writer who’d had no management training; I’d been thrown into a foreign world. I was a square peg in a round hole.
I Wanted to Do My Own Thing
Don’t get me wrong; there were upsides. I made some close friends there, and it was a relief when my boss came back from maternity leave. But, as a bundle-of-contradictions INFP, I suddenly hated that I was being told what to do again. I didn’t want to be the boss, but I also didn’t want to have a boss; I wanted to do my own thing.
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That’s when I discovered the answer: to become my own boss.
So, without any other job to go to, I resigned. And, after ten years in a sensitive-soul-crushing office environment, I’ve started living the life I’ve always wanted as a freelance writer.
I’m only two weeks in, but so far, things are great. Surprisingly, my productivity levels have soared – yes, I sometimes go to the gym at 10 a.m., just because I can – but now that I’m not being interrupted or having to go to pointless meetings, I can keep my head down and get shit done. I can be creative, on my own terms. If I miss company, I’ll meet a friend for coffee or call my boyfriend, or I’ll take my laptop to a buzzing café. But I’m in control of my environment. And, yes, there’s always Netflix…
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job
Thinking about quitting your job to be your own boss? Here are five questions to ask yourself before you do:
1. Are you willing to sell yourself? It can be hard for introverts to promote themselves, but if you’re running your own show, you have to get used to putting your name out there, networking, meeting people for coffee, and telling everyone how awesome you are (let’s face it, you probably are!). Make sure you’re being paid what you’re actually worth – never sell yourself short.
2. Can you get organized? Clutter is my middle name (actually, it’s Kathleen, but I should probably change it to that or McSloppy). I am hopeless at being organized but, as a freelancer, you need to keep track of invoices, stick to deadlines, and set timelines.
3. Can you be flexible? When someone calls you with a last-minute project, you might just have to pull an all-nighter if you need the cash, and be willing to work weekends. Once you’re established you can call the shots – but you have to be willing to do some unglamorous things early on.
4. Do you have a cash buffer? This is a no-brainer, but you shouldn’t leap from the security of a full-time job unless you’re out of debt and can survive without income for at least a couple of months. If you can’t, start a side hustle first.
5. Are you okay with uncertainty? Freelance comes with a side of instability. Some weeks you’ll be flat out; other weeks you might be frustrated and idle. People might not always pay you on time, and the lack of a regular paycheck can be stressful. But, over time, things will pay off – and something brilliant can always be around the corner.
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Image credit: Shutterstock/A. and I. Kruk