Ages ago, when I was first freelancing as a younger, more arrogant and more naive version of the nitwit you see before you, I started putting a portfolio together. The beginnings of this portfolio included the corporate videos I had worked on while at O’MAGE- and while I was more proud of those videos than anything else in the world, they proved to be the bane of my life for the next couple of years.
I love writing. Really, really love it.
I don’t always have the inclination to do it, but when I finally do drag myself away from the myriad distractions in my flat, I do, genuinely, love it.
But you know what else I love?
Not so much just having money, but rather what it affords. It can pay for the roof over your head and the food in your fridge. It can pay for that cute new pair of shoes, or that dress that you’ll ‘totally wear all the time’. It also buys security, status and confidence.
Having money means choosing whatever you feel like off the menu. It means not having to carry a calculator in one hand when doing your grocery shopping. It means being able to travel, being able to go to the movies, to the theatre. I know I’m unintentionally quoting Malema, but money really is freedom.
It can however, also be a trap.
When I got my first pay cheque, I was beyond elated. It was just enough to pay for my bachelor flat (read: converted garage) apartment and keep me in baked beans and toast for the rest of the month.
Over the years, I have worked hard to climb up the ladder, and have used the number at the bottom of my payslip as a measure of my skills and my worth. Any time I received a promotion, or let’s be honest- a pay raise- it was an affirmation of my abilities, and of myself. Giving me more money means you like me! You really like me!
Without me realising it, that number at the bottom of my payslip became more important than the hours of my life I had traded for it. Like I said, I really love writing. Getting a creative brief, fulfilling it and then getting paid- it doesn’t even feel like work sometimes.
But in recent months, I have come to realise I was doing less and less of what I loved, and more and more of what I ‘had to do’ to see that magic number at the end of the month.
More importantly, I had come to realise that the hours of my life I was pawing off have far greater value to me than that number. Hours that could have been spent challenging myself, or reading great books, learning a new skill, hanging out with loved ones, walking in the park, video games. The quality of my life had become worse, not better, by using money as my qualifier for my success.
The cost of money had become too high.
Recent news about my partner’s serious health condition cemented what is still a scary decision, even as I eagerly await the passing of the next 2.5 weeks for this decision to actualise.
I quit my damn job, yo.
Yes, I’m scared about paying the rent every month, yes, I’m scared of building up my freelance network and yes I’m worried about making a big financial decision while we are staring down the barrel of 4 months of chemotherapy. But I’m also excited about the prospect of being far more wealthy and fulfilled where my time is concerned, and really- time is our greatest asset in life. How we spend our time, I think, counts for more than how we spend our cash.
So what am I going to do with all this free time that promises to sprawl out in front of me like a drunken debutante?
You’re goddamn right, Napoleon.
Always finish what you start. I have tried in recent years to live by this mantra- at least when it comes to dessert. But when it comes to writing, either in a professional or personal capacity, is finishing everything you start always the right thing to do?
My Take on the DMMA Blogger Debate
I have nothing but respect for international and local bloggers who’ve made good and can successfully live off the fruits of their seated labour. In fact, some of my best friends are bloggers.