Quitting My Job to Freelance Was the Right Move for This Introvert

An introvert enjoys freelancing from home.

“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 introvert, I loved telling people’s stories and playing with words for a living. It was a dream gig.

But, in reality, I hated going into 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 requirement of constant small talk.

Oh, and let’s not forget team brainstorming days. Just hearing the word “brainstorm” was enough to make this introvert shake in her slippers.

Managing People Was Not This Introvert’s Thing

Last year, I was promoted to Acting Head of Communications when my boss went on maternity leave. Suddenly, I found myself managing a team, which I was horrible at. I’d eschew conflict at all costs. 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.

Like many introverts do, I made the huge mistake of thinking there was something desperately, horribly wrong with me. I felt awkward around colleagues and terrible at leading others. Once, in a one-on-one with the CEO, I cried because I felt the pressure was too much, then felt foolish and ashamed. I’d seen other people step up as head of a department with ease, so why couldn’t I?

I wish I’d 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. And, as an introvert, I felt like a square peg in a round hole.

Freelancing Meant I Could 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 introvert, 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.

That’s when I discovered the answer: freelancing.

So, without any other job to go to, I resigned. And, after ten years in a soul-crushing office environment, I’ve started living the life I’ve always wanted as an introvert and a freelance writer.

I’m only a few weeks in, but so far, things are great. Surprisingly, my productivity levels have soared — sure, sometimes I 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 actually 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 take my laptop to a buzzing cafe.

Now, I’m always in control of my environment — which does wonders for this introvert’s mood, energy, and happiness.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Job

Are you an introvert who’s thinking about quitting your job to be your own boss? Here are five questions you should 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!). And on that note, 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’m hopeless at being organized, but as a freelancer, it’s absolutely necessary for me to keep track of invoices, stick to deadlines, and set timelines. I’m learning to stretch myself and develop some skills and habits that don’t come naturally to me.

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, or be willing to work weekends if your projects are piling up. Once you’re established, you can call the shots — but you’ll probably have to do some unglamorous things early on to get your business off the ground.

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 steady income for at least a couple of months. If you can’t, start a side hustle first, then quit your day job when the numbers make sense. There’s nothing worse than desperately trying to rustle up clients with the treat of unpaid bills looming over you.

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. If you become your own boss, you’ll have to get comfortable with some level of uncertainty. But, over time, things do even out — and you find that something brilliant (like your next paying client) is always around the corner.

Freelancing isn’t right for everyone, and there are plenty of great jobs for introverts. But for this introvert, it was definitely the right move. 

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Written By

Lucy once worked for Cosmopolitan, where she worked on sealed sections and wrote about lip gloss. She’s now a happier, full-time freelance copywriter, feature writer and subeditor with a penchant for puns. Follow her on Twitter or email her at [email protected]