It’s been an odd, scary, wonderful month.
Choosing to go freelance was never the ‘easy’ option because I had become so comfortable at Mamamia. I knew the company, the people, and the job so well that after three years it felt seamless. But I also knew that staying in the night editor role any longer would stall my career – upward progression in the company would require a move to Sydney and, well, I loved Melbourne too much to do that.
My boyfriend, my family, my glorious friends – the thought of leaving them, even if only a 90-minute plane trip away – felt and feels inconceivable. For a long time admitting that made me feel guilty, like I mustn’t be driven or passionate enough if I wasn’t prepared to prioritise my career above the home to everything and everyone I love. So many other women had moved interstate for work like it was no big deal, why couldn’t I?
But here’s the other thing: I didn’t want to move upwards in a media company like Mamamia. I wanted to move sideways.
For so long, being an editor had been The Goal. The hierarchy of media companies means editors get more say, more influence, more control, but pretty soon after becoming weekend editor in January 2017 I realised it wasn’t for me. While having all those things felt nice, it didn’t feel anywhere near as rewarding as actually creating content with my own brain and keyboard. I didn’t want to consistently come up with ideas and pass them onto someone else. The constant churn of digital meant I desperately missed writing.
I am the best at what I do when I have room to breathe and think – most newsrooms simply aren’t conducive to that kind of approach. It was a confusing predicament – if I didn’t want to move up, where did I want to go?
When I quit in June, I had no plan. To be completely honest I didn’t even know I was going to quit until about an hour before I did it. All I knew was that my drive had dissipated – what was once a roaring fire for my job was now a smoky pile of ashes. A tiny rain cloud had been drizzling on my passion for a while, lightly, quietly, but then all of a sudden it was as if someone had blasted away with a fire extinguisher.
I know myself – and once that drive is gone, there’s no point. I like to give 100% to a job. Anything less is a waste of everyone’s time.
And so, that day I quit and dove off the deep end with no floaties or swimsuit. (But instead with copious tears because I am nothing if not emotional and dramatic.)
As I write this I am in my fourth week of freelancing. It’s the best decision I could have made.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s fucking hard, and I’ve had approximately eleventy-hundred anxiety fits along the way – but it’s also deeply rewarding and the perfect fit for my lifestyle and career.
Having your stories rejected can feel like a kick in the guts, but having them be accepted is crazily exciting. I basically oscillate between extreme self-doubt and supreme self-confidence with every email. It’s… something I’m working on.
I won’t lie, seeing Shameless do well is probably the ultimate highlight so far. Zara and I have worked so hard at getting it to where we want it to be, and we still have some way to go, but looking at our progress every week is galvanising. It’s never smooth sailing – knowing the Apple Podcast charts, we’ll fall from 10th spot in our category to 100th within 24 hours – but growing our little podcast and its kick-arse community of like-minded women has been my favourite project of 2018.
I feel happy. And energised. And like the next few months will be awfully difficult, but I can tackle them head-on anyway.
So here I am my lovely reader friends, spending most days in a total daze; surprised that I ever leaped off that cliff, and even more surprised that I’m actually swimming.
P.S. If you want to listen to what I’m doing on Shameless, click below for the latest ep. You guys will loooove Zara – she’s infinitely smarter than I am x