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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

Got kind of a squirrel-in-the-headlights look…

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

A long week is winding down, and I’m feeling the weight of another slow period of freelance work.

This is how Bertrand looks when he is afraid. Before he bolts, for his protection, he stands straight up, looks at where the startling noise is coming from, and stands stock still.

A squirrel in the headlights.

Bertrand doesn't know if he's about to be pursued by Jasper Cat (highly doubtful.) Or if another squirrel is going to try and invade his space. Or if that hawk has returned and wants to make a meal out of him. He's unsure what's coming next, so his fear makes him freeze.

I’m feeling that same kind of fear.

Here are my stats:

  • 60 job proposals submitted

  • 18 jobs have closed (33% of those because they do not meet Upwork standards)

  • 2 jobs hired for (a total of $16 in earnings)

  • 40 jobs have been viewed recently by clients, but only silence on my end

Even though I have a standard template for my proposals, I spend quality time on each, personalizing it for the client I am sending it to. I follow a guideline that a pretty intelligent woman showed me:

So I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but lately, this fear is what I've been feeling.

I had a steady job for 17 years, which I loved because I worked with books daily. But I had an opportunity to move into a financially lucrative, career-advancing position, and I took a chance on it. I left my stable, decent-paying, fairly reasonable job and took a chance on myself.

The new position, while it taught me a great deal, and I made some friendships with deeply compassionate women, didn't work out for several reasons.

And now here I am. I wonder if I've made the right or wrong decisions this year. Leaving a stable, mild-mannered job for the unknown. Leaving another promising, yet highly stressful, job for "What the heck am I doing with my life?"

By staying motionless when they're afraid, squirrels hope they will avoid being seen by predators. They may also flee as their first line of defense since they are quick and agile. And then, other times, they can become aggressive and attempt to attack.

This is a challenging conversation to have with Bertrand. He could have given better advice on the subject. Each of his options needs to be revised for a freelance editor/writer.

  1. I can freeze - I'll fall into an unhealthy mental health pattern and experience despair.

  2. I can flee - I'll stop trying to freelance and start looking for another job.

  3. I can become aggressive - I'll improve my proposals, put in 120 next week, and find ways to expand my work areas.

Oddly enough, one of the jobs I was awarded on Upwork this week is not a "job" at all. A life coach reached out looking for women willing to be test subjects for her coaching business so she can complete her certification. I was selected to receive three free sessions with her, and we start on Saturday. I told her that my main area of uncertainty is currently my career. I hope she can offer some clarity during our time together.

Otherwise, I fear that next week, I may look like this:

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