Sidetracked by Fear / by Michelle Cowan

I’ll admit it.  I got a little distracted this week, but I’ve nailed down the culprit: fear. In my first week of self-employment, I decided to pursue a job as an assistant. It was advertised as only around 10-15 hours per week, and even though the pay was minimal, it sounded good to have some sort of steady income on the side.

I interviewed for the position and was accepted, but after three days on the job—yes, three days—I realized that assisting is not my strong suit.

Besides the basic disconnect between my personality and everything an assistant should be, the entire time, I was thinking, “I need to be working on my own business.  I need to be growing my own client base.”  Even though my new boss had a lovely personality, explained things as best she could, and didn’t ask for too much, I couldn’t do it. I needed more time to get into the rhythm of my new life.

The honest truth is that I don’t know how much extra time I have. I’m working all the time, so it would appear that I have no extra hours to spend running errands at near-minimum wage. I could be spending a few hours finding clients who will pay my full fees instead of bringing only a handful of dollars home at a time, or I could be devoting energy to my true love: music.

But my client list is short and the gigs do not pay that much. It’s frightening. I have dozens of contacts, contracts with a number of different organizations, and no offers. I’m finding small projects, but I have to cross my fingers that I will continue to find more.  I’m getting more and more music gigs, which is fabulous, but I would prefer more paying ones. It’s rough. No wonder I reach out for the familiarity of a “regular” job.

Anyway, my side job cut into valuable morning creative hours and gave me such stress attacks that I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I wanted to be there for my boss.  I really did.  But my heart was not there, and I felt overwhelmed by every aspect of assistantship. Being at someone’s beck and call is not my forte. When set on default, I’m a “my way or the highway” thinker who believes that she knows best in just about every situation. (I’m not saying that I think I am correct in this mindset or that I act on this mode of thinking most of the time, but it is my instinct to insist that I’m right.) Bottom line: If my kneejerk reaction to authority is “no way,” what am I doing trying to take orders for a living!? 

I quit.  For the second time this month, I quit.  It didn’t feel good.  I hated leaving my new boss in the lurch. But it’s what needed to happen. I have to follow my heart, which knows that I will get more business over time. I ended the job the best way I could, finished out my duties for the week, and went home to look for work.

My days are already filled with engagements and networking events and jobs that I need to concentrate on. I want to grow my own vision, not someone else’s, wonderful though it may be.

At the end of the day, I got back to my dream, to my vision, and to the challenge before me. I have to lay a strong foundation for my music and writing/editing business before I desperately reach out for new, “regular” jobs. I must let myself be free for a while. I am doing everything I need to do. No need to get distracted.  Keep walking forward. It will all work out… I’m choosing to believe that.