When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I took on my first “professional” project, at the age of 16, that I realized maybe there was a future in the web for me. From there, I took on almost any project that came my way, saying yes to everything and anything that crossed my path. For the next five years, I toiled away slowly, carving my space online in bits and pieces, picking up knowledge, and connections on the way.
Things changed last year. After an absolutely brutal 2014, 2015 seemed better than ever. I met amazing people, worked on big, exciting, amazing projects, and made more money than ever before. But it was also the year that I started letting things slide. I’ve always had a problem following up with leads, but I was letting projects I already had slip through my fingers.
This year, it just got worse. I stopped answering calls, stopped replying to emails, stopped giving a shit. Money wasn’t a motivator, I’ve been ignoring people who promised to pay me for months. My circle of “clients I like” dropped down to three or four, and since they were long, on-going projects, almost all of my small projects got left in the dust. I grew tired of apologizing for being AWOL, and just accepted it. This is how I am now, distant, unpredictable, and unreliable.
And this weight took a toll on me even more. I started dreading opening my emails because I was sure I was going to see a number of angry messages. I stopped networking, contributing, blogging, or reaching out because I felt like a failure. I completely stopped investing time and research into “my business” – what’s the point when I know I’m not going to follow through? I felt so worthless, shitty, and lost.
My personal life kind of took a nosedive at the same time. I stopped wanting to do anything. No cleaning, no cooking, no reading or playing games or enjoying myself. I gained weight, my self-esteem suffered. And my relationship suffered – for the first time in six years I felt distant from the person I love the most. I never wanted to be home, because it reminded me of all the things I should be doing.
I was miserable. I am miserable.
Something needs to change.
I’ve been wondering for months if I even want to work on the web anymore. I’m always alone, and always home, and it wears on me. Maybe it would be better if I got a “real” job. Part time, so I could still focus on my three or four long-term clients, everything else be damned. But then there are days where I put together an entire website in a day and I feel so accomplished. I love designing. I love coding. When everything goes right, I really do love my job.
But I hate feeling so isolated, and so depended on. If it’s not work weighing on my shoulders, it’s personal life, and I just can’t seem to catch a break. It feels like everyone is relying on me, depending on me, and nobody gives a damn about what I want or need or can reasonably do.
So what do I do? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking of volunteering, and investing in a business coach. Something to get me out of the house, and someone to hold me accountable. And, maybe, I’m thinking of standing up for myself and my own needs and interests. Slow and steady, I’ll get back to where I want to be eventually.