On Monday I was OVERJOYED to tell you all that I’m going to be taking a full-time job with CURE International. And you’ve all been so encouraging about it over the past few days (thank you!!!). But you may be wondering, and rightfully so, what happened to my full-time freelance career path? Wasn’t that what I was trying to accomplish all along?
Let’s chat about that.
Because I know that more than a few of you here are either a) college students, b) aspiring freelancers, or c) friends and family members who have followed my roller coaster post-collegiate career. Knowing my backstory, there might be an element of surprise that I’m choosing a full-time job over full-time freelance, which was the option I had assumed I would pursue. I even had an opportunity to make that a reality…and still chose this full-time job with CURE!
So just in case any of you out there are in the midst of your own career decision making process or are just curious as to how this unexpected bend in the road came about, pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and let’s talk!
Why I decided to take a full-time job
1. This was clearly where the Lord was leading
Like, could-not-be-any-clearer, clearly. He opened each door from start to finish. And I knew it was Him opening each door because I’m all too familiar with the alternative: me trying to bust my way through a thousand and one closed doors. This process has been markedly different from the many (MANY) job hunts I’ve been on in the past. There is no denying that this came straight from Him, and that this was the way He was going to answer my many (MANY) prayers.
2. I believe in CURE
Aside from the former, this was the biggest factor in my decision to take a full-time job. I really, really, really believe in CURE; I’ve followed them for a long time and have so much respect for the work that they do. I can honestly say that I am humbled by the prospect of working for this organization. I can’t believe that I will get to go to work every day and spread the word about helping kids find physical and spiritual healing. I get to be part of that, and I’m so, so grateful.
3. I will get an opportunity to both use and further develop my areas of giftedness
In this job I’m going to be able to use the gifts I’ve been given to do work that matters. That has always been my mission as far as employment is concerned, so from the start I felt like this position would be a great fit. Not only that, but there are areas within the job description that will allow me to grow professionally and learn skills that I’ve wanted to learn for a long time.
4. My personal projects are not feeding me, tangibly and intangibly
The websites that I run don’t put food on the table, and, as much as I love them, aren’t enough to feed me as a whole person. I love sharing life here. And I love writing about football over at Football for Normal Girls. I will still continue writing for both sites, and will still love it.
But – and this was one of the biggest factors in turning down full-time freelance – I’ve learned that freelancing all the time leaves something to be desired for me. Only writing, just like when I was only doing photography, leaves me feeling empty. I really need variety, some degree of structure, and contact with other humans to be part of my job description, in addition to creative facets like writing and photography.
Let’s pause here to talk about career confusion. I hesitated to write that last paragraph because it felt like fessing up to another failed career path. And Lord knows I’ve had plenty. Being wrong about what I’ve wanted in a career makes me feel like I’m just not trying hard enough and/or I’m too hard to please. But neither or those things could be further from the truth! I know that I work really hard, and I also know that I’m annoyingly content in all sorts of circumstances. What I am, instead, is not willing to compromise. I don’t want the perceived embarrassment of tweaking my career path for the hundredth time to stop me from getting to the work I’m really meant to do.
Word of advice to those who fall into a similar category: be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to change course. There is absolutely a time for dedication to a specific endeavor in good times and in bad. But learn to know the difference between fighting for your dreams even when it’s an uphill battle and chasing the wrong dream just because it’s harder to figure out the right one.
5. I have practical needs that would benefit from benefits
My car, the Black Death, has had it’s last leg amputated and reattached more times than I can count. I’ve also been praying that I wouldn’t contract the actual Black Death, since I haven’t had health insurance in years. I still have college loans that I’m working to pay off. I’ve been living out of boxes at my parent’s house for a year and a half. I am not at all motivated by money or by practical needs, so it’s hard for me to think about life or decisions in those terms. As a result, those things have never factored into my employment equation. Like, not once. And I’ve been really comfortable with that. I wouldn’t change it. But now, I have the opportunity to do something that I love for an organization I respect…and get paid to do it.
I didn’t really know that was possible.
Most dreamers are familiar with that sentiment. We tend to overlook the more practical aspects of life. We know that we can live outside of the societal box of “normal” and make sacrifices for our dreams. We can! And we should! But right now? My dream happens to fit inside a more traditional box. It’s a box that will allow me to do work that matters and live well and pursue my own creative endeavors without the overhanging threat of bills/car repairs/illness/etc.
Let’s pause again to talk about a different side of career confusion. Because a huge part of me wants to rebel against that more traditional box. I’m stubborn and determined and often feel uncomfortable with being “comfortable.” A lot of that is foolish pride. Honestly. I shouldn’t feel like I’m giving up just because I’m ready to have things like an address and a regular paycheck. But because of how I was raised (to do what you love regardless of money) and how I’ve thrown myself into this past year (to make a freelance life happen no matter what), it’s hard for me to let go of that mentality. The mentality that suggests that if I’m not living in poverty, I’m not sacrificing enough.
Second word of advice to all of the creatives out there, a word of advice that I’m also taking myself: It’s ok to make ends meet. And it’s ok to work full-time. I feel like it’s so vilified in the creative community – of which I live on the outskirts to begin with – but it usually seems like taking a full-time job is seen as selling out. As Jon Acuff points out in Quitter (a book that I’m kind of living in reverse), people who have steady jobs usually have more creative freedom than people who don’t. Why? Because your baseline needs are met. All extra time can be devoted to your creative endeavors, sans pressure.
I’m so looking forward to that.
Those are the biggest reasons why I was ready to adjust what my real dream looks like and move into a new season as a full-time employee. I know without a doubt that it was the best decision for me at this time. But how about you guys? Where are you in this process? Are you fueling your creative fire with a full-time job or with full-time hustle? I’d love to know the answer!