I was laid off from my video production job about a year and a half ago. I wasn't too sad to see it go because I really wanted to freelance. I wasn't getting paid enough in that job to have savings, but I had unemployment for a few months, and figured that could see me through bulking up my portfolio and getting some clients. I did find some regular work and have built up good relationships that I hope turn into more, but in the mean time, I am so broke. I volunteer with several organizations and go to events, so I keep telling myself that if I just hold on a little longer, it'll get better. But when I sit down to work on marketing or personal projects that show off what I can do, I freeze up with anxiety.
posted by ohisee to Work & Money (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Some of this is the normal fear that comes with cold calling and putting yourself out there, but it does spiral out of control. I've seen a therapist in the past, and have a great relationship with her. I would be back there in an instant if I could afford to pay for it. I've been working on exercising, but even after a run, I sit down at my computer and get all tight and panicky. If it's a good day, I'll read content-farmed business advice and pretend I'm learning something useful. If it's a bad day, I seek out entertainment or do nothing but freak out.
I'm pretty good at what I do (my past boss and clients have all been happy with my work), but I feel that my online presence is lacking. I have had to make my own website because I have no money, and I'm not super proud about sending people there. I also have taken a bunch of low-paying, not great gigs to get by, so when people ask me what I have going on, I start to downplay the work. At this point, the projects I'm most proud of are from two years ago and getting a little stale to keep pushing.
I do have some independent projects I'm excited about, but because they don't directly make money, I don't really get anything done with them. The problem is that is that I start to believe that the real reason I'm broke is because I actually suck at everything. If I were good, I would make more money. I become sure that when I finally finish work I truly care about, everyone will see how much it sucks and I will be sad forever. I'll have to spend the rest of my life knowing that I am a total failure and an embarrassment to everyone who ever loved me. I've had a good education and some family help, so the fact that I'm still struggling is a sign that I am inadequate as a human and broadcasting my business is only broadcasting how terrible I am.
I have a lovely partner who tells me I'm good and keeps me fed, but he doesn't make enough to cover my debt and rent and he doesn't really relate to what it's like to be crippled by anxiety. He keeps telling me that it's temporary, and that I'm getting more and more recognition and that it will be better soon. Deep down, I know he's right, but the path from here to there is overwhelming.
Intellectually, I know that really, this isn't that bad in the long run. Though I have debt, it is still in the 4-digit range and barring any major illness, I'm on track to get it handled before it gets truly insurmountable. I'm not a great business owner, but I definitely have the theory down on marketing, and am actually really good at in-person networking. I have support, I have dedication and I have the skills to be in a more stable place, but my anxiety is holding me back. I would love to get some proper help, but it's at least a few months off. I'll get it sooner if I can get around this hurdle and just promote myself.
So, anyone have a good strategies or non-bullshitty resources for keeping anxiety in check? I know the basics, but they're failing me right now. In writing this, I can see that a huge problem is how much I've linked income to my sense of self-worth, so I would be particularly stoked to read some good counter-arguments to that line of thought. I don't worry too much about status symbols, but my shoes are really worn out, and my bike is badly in need of repair, and it's hard not to feel like a failure when I can't afford a $40 pair of sneakers cause I'm struggling to make rent.
Thanks in advance!