Self-employed at 22

I put my age in the title of this blog post because it was one of the biggest factors influencing why I didn’t work for myself sooner. I was always under the impression (from family, society as a whole) that because I was say, less than 25, that I couldn’t work for myself. I was too young, too inexperienced, had to know what it was like to work for someone else first, learn from an employed job. I was a uni graduate, and I’d never had a “proper job”. How would I be able to run my own business?

To be honest, they (whoever “they” are) had a point. Well, to a certain extent, gut feelings are always the winner though!

When I left uni, after a summer break (aside from filming and editing six weddings), I started working for a company here in Guernsey. It was right for me at the time - I felt it then and I still believe that to be true now. Deep down I knew that what I really wanted, what would suit me the most, was to work for myself (see this blog post I wrote back in 2016!). But I also knew that it would be foolish to not confirm this by experiencing it, and I knew that I didn’t yet know what work I wanted to do. So sure, working for myself would be something I would probably do in the future, but right now (and by now, I’m talking March 2017) getting a job working for someone else was the first step I felt I had to take towards that.

I started a job as a web/graphic designer in September last year. I enjoyed the work, very much. And I learnt a lot from it, in terms of communication skills, web development/coding, project management, the list goes on. It was a good place to work, I had some fun projects, and my bosses were very accommodating to me. On the days I was feeling most creative, I would get completely lost in designing websites and posters and the days would pass quickly. On the days I was feeling confident and chatty, I enjoyed communicating with our clients. On the days I was feeling organised, I would happily do some admin work. The problem was - and this became apparent very quickly - I am one of those people…

whose strengths vary from day to day
who is incredibly in tune with, and influenced on all levels by, my menstrual cycle (creative during menstruation/pre-ovulation, organised, talkative and methodical during ovulation and lacking in energy during pre-menstruation)
who is independent and likes to decide what I am going to do each day
who needs a regular change in environment
who needs to move around
who needs fresh air
who needs to feel like I'm really making a difference and personally helping people

… to thrive.

And in an office environment with barely any natural light, working for mostly big clients who needed a website done and needed it done now, 9-5 (with a rushed 1 hour lunch break), sat at a desk in front of a computer screen with nowhere to move to and where I was required to be creative *every* day and simultaneously perform admin/numbers tasks (more than you’d think!) *every* day, I wasn’t thriving. I struggled. I became a bit… bored, stagnant, frustrated.

I found it hard to be creative on days when I lacked any inspiration and creativity and could only focus on organising my files or calculating project hours or doing training videos, but absolutely had to find the creativity from somewhere because that design needed doing today. And I found it hard to be required to do admin work on the days where I was buzzing with ideas and itching to bring them to life. I didn’t like the repetition of my day - it was too structured - getting up at the same time, same quick breakfast, same drive to work, sat in the same spot for 3.5 hours in the morning, same drive home for a rushed lunch and back to work again (watching the clock like a hawk to make sure I wasn’t late back), same spot at the same desk in the afternoon and same drive home again at 5.

I’m aware that I might sound like I’m the world’s biggest complainer, and this is a very “first world problem” to have. I struggle with finding the balance when writing about things like this, the balance between being honest and conscious and true to myself - and speaking that truth - and sounding like I’m an over-privileged ungrateful complainer. Please know that I only intend the former! The thing is, I knew this working life didn’t suit me, and it only took a couple of months for this to be confirmed by the routine I’d got into and how it made me feel. I was stuck in a rut and it wasn’t good for me.

I’m a very awake person (except right now, it’s gone 10pm and I’m SO ready for bed, but you know what I mean), I’m incredibly conscious of how I feel at all times and making sure that it’s the best I can feel, which I believe has stemmed from living with depression back in 2013/14 and wanting to never feel that way again. Life is too short to do something that doesn't make you want to get out of bed in the morning, too short to put yourself in a box with no room for growth and stay there! Yoga, journaling and my ever-growing spirituality have been the biggest influencers though. I try not to do too much thinking, and instead do a lot of feeling. What have I done today and how does it make me feel? How do I feel when I’m with this person or that person? Always conscious, always open, always listening to my intuition and my soul stuff, and adjusting accordingly (I believe we should all be like this, but it’s a choice and a process!). So it’s not really a surprise that although I was open to the idea of employment and the valuable skills I may get from it (and definitely did get from it), that I quickly realised it just wasn’t for me.

So what now?

Well, eventually I took the leap of faith to leave the job and start working for myself. I’d been working for myself for four years in my spare time, filming vlogs for my university and a national uni company, creating and managing my yoga teacher Emma’s website and social media content, and spending my summers filming weddings as part of my videography business that I set up in 2015. But full-time self-employment? That was new to me! And when I handed my notice in, I thought I would just try to expand my wedding videography/family photography business. I made good money from it, I loved being able to give people something really special and cherished, and I loved working with love! But within a few weeks, it became apparent that that was not the direction my work was taking me.

It was in fact taking me to a very similar area of work that I was doing (and loving) at the job I had just left - website and graphic design, but with the addition of social media content creation and management, as well as photography and videography - basically being the digital content creator/manager for small businesses and soloprenuers here in Guernsey. At my previous job, I had always preferred working with clients who really did need me and appreciated what I could do, and especially those I connected with. So I wished and wished to work with these kinds of people, to somehow attract them in, and have close working relationships with them (lots of face-to-face contact, emojis, trust, and friendship!).

I’m two months in now, and without any advertising (mindblown), I am that “digital person” on an ongoing basis for six lovely people, all of whom do work that not only *they* are passionate about, but I am too! Nutrition, wellbeing, healing, therapy, sustainable living, growing, spirituality, and helping people. They’re ALL my kind of people, they’re ALL passionate about the same things that I am, and they’re ALL incredibly grateful for my help. And honestly that is all that I’ve ever wanted from my work and my clients. The best bit is that they get to focus their time on giving their gift to the world, whilst letting me take care of the things they aren’t interested in, don’t have the skills for and don’t have the time or energy for (but are the things that *I* do!). I also have other one-off projects (website designs, newsletter designs, logos, photography etc.) to supplement this, and I continue to receive weekly emails and phone calls from people reaching out to me asking for help, totally out of the blue. The beauty, I suppose, with living in Guernsey is that everyone knows everyone (also maybe the worst thing about it!) and it’s a very community-oriented island. So the one client I started off with (my yoga teacher - I love you Emma and am so grateful to you for hiring me and believing in me) recommended me to others, who then became my next handful of clients, who recommended me to their friends, who recommended me to their friends, and on the chain reaction of kindness goes. I send out prayers of thanks every day for this. It’s utter magic. A big YAY for lovely people, manifestation and the belief that all will work out.

So that’s an introduction to how I’ve ended up here, working for myself, from my little house. It’s taken me over half a year (oops!) to find the inspiration to write on this blog again, but I had a good few people ask me to write about my new self-employed life, so I’ve got a few ideas of future blog posts for this mini series, such as what I’ve learnt so far, the pros and cons, a day in the life… that kind of thing. Do let me know if you’re interested - it might just give me that extra kick up the backside to do it!

Love love love x