No more famine and feast, no more good pain

Things are shifting for the better, in a way that I don’t remember feeling before.

I start my new job tomorrow. Sure, I definitely have some apprehensions and fears. I’m not looking forward to having to be more self-disciplined with my daily schedule, particularly my sleep schedule. That’s the one aspect of my life that’s never really been normal.

And of course, I’m pretty nervous about the impact a full-time job may have on my neurological health. But I am determined not to let it defeat me.

But already I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m going to have regular paychecks again. I never again have to worry about withholding my own taxes or paying quarterly ones or having terrifying weeks (or even months) when work slows down or clients are slow to pay.

I realized last fall that I had to stop freelancing but at first that was purely for social reasons. Because I have a quiet side and don’t mind being alone, it surprises even me sometimes that the real me is actually super social. I constantly got in trouble in school for talking too much. But being isolated at home for so many years or working in environments where people didn’t “get” me buried that side of me down deep.

I already know that’s not going to be a problem at my new job. I had an instant connection with the people with whom I’ll be working most closely. It’s in the marketing department of a healthcare company with a lot of former med students, so there are tons of people there who share my very specific brand of nerdiness. And because my role is in marketing, it’s laidback, creative, casual, a little bit funky.

But more than all this, there’s a definitive ending to my freelance career. I’m very intentionally closing the door on that chapter of my life. That’s not to say I won’t ever accept a new project if it seems easy or interesting and can fit into my schedule. And I still want to write at least one book. But for all intents and purposes, I am done.

Now that I’m bringing it all to a close, I can really admit to myself how heavy of a burden it had become to be self-employed for so long. It was actually so much worse for my psychological and social health than I even fully realized until I knew I could officially stop.

It gave me so much anxiety to be solely responsible for whether I had work or not. I felt like I could never relax, never turn down any work, because I didn’t know when it would all dry up again. I deeply internalized this belief that I wouldn’t be welcomed in the workplace outside my home anyway or that I couldn’t adapt enough to fit in.

Already I feel that heaviness lifting from me and have so much hope. In the past, I would have continued freelancing while working a full time job just for the extra money. But now it’s like my eyes were opened to just how bad freelancing was for me and my family and it no longer seems worth it, even for extra money.

I need to start teaching my kids about balance, if it’s not already too late. I thought I was showing them that you can be yourself without compromising anything and still earn a living. But it turns out that they received a much different message, that avoiding a traditional job is actually a lot more work and doesn’t have many rewards.

I wanted to change so I did. It was and will continue to be challenging at times. But I’m also aware that I’m experiencing some important and intense personal growth. I’m not the person I was five years ago before I moved here. I’m not even the same person I was at this time last year. In many ways, my illness was the catalyst for changing myself–but that’s a different post for a different day.

I’ve reached a point in life in general where I finally feel like I am enough, just as I am. I have enough. While there will always be things out there on the horizon that might be nice to have, I don’t need them. While I was never a big shopper or that focused on having the newest and nicest things, I always felt this deep sense of lack. I had this intense void inside me and I didn’t think anything could ever fill it.

All that started to change when I began to work on liking myself. I still have a long way to go but I already feel like I have valuable things to offer.

Who knew that learning to like myself was the first step? But now everything else is gradually falling into place. Job and career. Relationships with friends and family. I have a clear sense of who I am.

And perhaps most importantly, I’ve realized that setting boundaries is a part of loving myself. I’m still not very good at that yet with others. But setting boundaries includes with myself. I feel better when I’m more self-disciplined, when I eat better, when I get exercise.

The cycle of pushing myself until I quite literally collapse is no longer worth it to me. I realize that I actually want to have a normal life, because a “normal lifestyle” won’t change any of the interests that make me unique.

I can see that in many ways, I was just scared to grow up. And now I embrace it. This is a whole new chapter and I really believe it’s going to be a good one.

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