Today, I celebrate 11 years of freelancing.

It feels like just yesterday when I wrote about a decade of doing this. In wedding anniversary materials, I should be gifting myself with something made of steel (blah blah about being married to my work). In the past, I’ve done posts that list the things I’ve learned, but I’m switching it up this time to 11 things I’m working on.

Thinking back to my early days of freelancing, I remember comparing myself to others further in their careers. I thought they knew everything and were so put together. So I’m here to combat that belief: I don’t know everything and I’m still kind of messy.

Here are 11 things I’m still working on (lots of reframing work happening here):

  1. You do not need to conform yourself to what others are doing. Lean into what makes you unique. Cultivate that. Give it the space to grow.
  2. Your core values won’t change, but they may evolve in priority.
  3. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you need to work in the field.
  4. Be humble. Fail, often. In fact, get used to the feeling of failure (more on this in a different essay). I’ve rephrased this in my head to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” For example, when learning something new, enjoy the process instead of aiming for an end product.
  5. If you’ve “decided in your head,” it means you’ve already cemented this decision and you’re trying to figure out how to tell people. Fuck that. Be like Nike and just do it.
  6. If you find yourself feeling jealous of someone, it’s not usually about their concrete accomplishment, but the fact that they were willing to take that risk.
  7. A work-life balance is less about the time spent at your desk and more about how you feel. “Do you feel like you’re working more than you want?” is the better question to ask.
  8. This being said, you may need to work more if you’re working on a new thing. But this “more” is temporary.
  9. Write it all down. It doesn’t matter what it is or if it’s half-baked. Chances are, you will find a trend or pattern in your thoughts and ideas.
  10. Be open and receptive to changes, ideas, and opportunities. “Serendipity” — I’m not a religious person, nor am I that spiritual, but I can vibe with the idea of “put it out into the universe and be open to what comes your way.” What’s the harm in that? You’ve lost a few minutes to talking to the universe? Okay, but let’s reframe that as you spent a few minutes focusing on your wants.
  11. Reframe anxiety as a friend, not an enemy. Or…a coworker. It may seem like it’s stopping you from doing things, but in actuality, it is looking out for you. This coworker can have the best of intentions and hinder some of your progress. Approach anxiety like a well-meaning-but-annoying-at-the-time coworker: acknowledge the help, thank it for its worries, and move on.