In 1990, several months after graduating from college, I moved to Washington, DC, with all of my belongings in the back of a Toyota Starlet. Starting fresh, cold-calling temp agencies, sleeping on a fold-out foam chair in the basement of my friend's group house, splurging once a week to split a six-pack with my friend. Within one month, I had a job and my own room in a separate group house. I made friends. One could even say I thrived.
In 2005, when I gave birth to my daughter, I left an exciting and demanding position as Director of Outreach Programs for a trade association to become a stay-at-home mother and freelance writer/editor. I started slow, built a client base by word of mouth, worked odd hours and slept little. As my daughter grew older and began preschool, I took on more projects. I made it work. I built up a solid foundation of a variety of portable skills.
In 2011, I was asked to interview for a steady contract with my current employer. It would be an "office job", part-time. After six years of freelancing -- working nights, in my pajamas while the baby took her morning nap, in the local public library while my mother-in-law took care of the baby, and even scribbling notes sitting alongside the sandbox at the playground -- I admit I was terrified at the thought of interacting with co-workers EVERY DAY! Could I do it? Could I put myself on a schedule that others considered "normal"? Two years later, I look back and see that it just took a little time getting used to the new routine, but I did it. And I built up more skills, along with a confidence in my re-discovered ability to adapt and grow professionally, even after being out of the office environment for so long.
Now, here in 2013, I am once more on the verge of a major transition. I am headed back into the bi-polar world of the freelancer -- the drought/flood-ness of the work, the sink or swim mentality. Most of all, I am bracing for the sheer entrepreneurialism of it. For two years, I was given work to do, and I did it. I had a boss. A great boss. But now I'm going back to being my own boss, to making my own days (to paraphrase Kenneth Koch).
I've set some goals for myself for the rest of 2013 -- what I hope will be realistic goals, taking into consideration what a huge undertaking it has been to cast off the tethers of one life while free-falling into another.
The primary goal of this whole endeavor has been to achieve a quality of life that is not as manic as one seems to get after 20 years of living and working in the DC area. I will take time to breathe. To acclimate. To refocus.
And to set up a home office.