For the last few weeks, I’ve been down in the dumps. It seemed everything that I wanted to do was impossible. I hit a block when it came to my creativity, I felt as though my freelance career was all over the place and my personal life was a hot mess. I knew I needed a holiday, but the financial pressure of getting away just stressed me out even more. Both literally and metaphorically speaking, I couldn’t catch an effing break.
When I went freelance five months ago, I knew it was going to be tough. It meant a total change in my every day life – a life that I had known for three years. The career move also coincided with moving flat and moving in with my boyfriend’s family. Not an easy change for anyone. If any of my friends had told me they planned on making all of these life changes at once, the advice I’d have given would probably have been along the lines of: ‘Are you fucking insane?!’
But nonetheless, it happened. And it’s been really tough. Let’s start with the whole going freelance thing. Everyone kind of warned me that jobs come and go in waves, and, the truth is, I’d only half prepared myself. While I might have a couple of months of feeling really good and like everything was going in the right direction, I could also easily have a month of no work and question how the hell I was going to pay off those shoes I bought on my credit card the week before.
In general, I’m not a very confident person when it comes to my own abilities. In an office environment, you have little reminders every day that you’re good at your job. However, when you’re freelance, you’re alone at a desk (OK fine on the sofa covered in biscuit crumbs) with no one to talk to. I can work on something for days, convince myself I’m crap at everything and just file it on my desktop in a folder titled ‘IDEAS’. And, as if that isn’t bad enough, coming up with the ideas isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be either…
Let me lay this down and correct all of those bloody show offs that I’m forever faced with: Ideas don’t always come as light bulb moments in the shower. In fact, coming up with ideas is something I struggle with the most. Whether it’s for a blog post, Instagram post or a feature I really want to pitch, coming up with an idea can be really bloody tough. With so many ways to consume information, making something seem new is bloody hard. And yet, I scrolled through my phone and found myself screaming: ‘Well I could have bloody thought of that!’
So why didn’t I do anything about it? Why DIDN’T I think of that?
Because I was in a bloody rut. It’s a very severe downwards spiral when you find yourself not wanting to do something because you feel like you’re not talented enough or able enough. All of this, on top of the fact that I had no real work space to call my own (something you really need when you’re freelance FYI), got a little overwhelming.
Last week, Tom suggested it was about time we got away for a few days and spent some time on the coast with my parents. It seemed weird because, in my head, I felt like I had so much to do. The actual reality was that I wasn’t actually doing any of it. I had content to create, brands to reach out to, blog posts to plan and invoices to chase. And I felt like I was doing it. Those things were on my list every day, after all. They just weren’t getting done.
So, we went and spent a couple of days in Bournemouth. I packed my camera and notebooks with the intention of doing some work. But I didn’t. And I wasn’t actually that annoyed at myself. It probably helped that temperatures were 25+, but I really feel as though getting away, even if it was just for a few days, really put things into perspective. We caught up with friends, chilled on the beach and drank cocktails on rooftops.
We did it all in moderation, too. An evening with friends in London tends to end with me on a night bus, bleary eyed, scoffing a kebab, feeling like a lost teenager in an adult’s body. And yet I was fulfilled by this moderation. I got away and spent some time doing the things I truly love. In doing that, I’ve had some realisations.
London really wasn’t helping. In five years, I’d never felt failed by the city that I planned on spending my whole life in. It has opened up huge job opportunities for me, offers pizza 24 hours a day and has pubs that won’t kick me out for dancing on the tables (a handful at least). But suddenly, I felt wronged by the city I thought I loved. It had become suffocating. It is full of incredible people that I was constantly comparing myself to and I felt as though it was forever asking for more from me. I realised that a huge reason I couldn’t pull myself out of that self-loathing hole was because, physically, I was still very much ‘in it’.
Now, I realise the only thing I can do is keep on bloody going. I’ve had a break and time to reflect. London isn’t going to change, so it’s about time I start making it work for me again. I need to stop thinking about the fact that this isn’t where I wanted to be in my life, stop convincing myself I’m totally shit at everything and learn to just be OK with what is happening today. So, if you’re in a rut, get the hell out of where you are. Even just for a day or two. Reflect on it, take in the change of scenery and realise that you are exactly where you need to be.
If anyone has an recommendations of cheap little places to get away to (maybe somewhere like Margate!) please do let me know!