*TRIGGER WARNING: I vaguely mention stories of uncomfortable situations between myself and other men in this post.
The way that I started my path to self-employment wasn’t perfect. In fact, I was torn into pieces 5 months after starting.
My rent was raising in Pasadena so I had some tough decisions to make. I couldn’t get a raise in my current position, but it didn’t make sense to get a new job since I knew that I wanted to try out “being my own boss.”
In true Rosie fashion (I DON’T recommend doing this, it just so happens that I’ve had a habit of doing so), I gave in my resignation without having another job lined up.
I figured it’d make the most sense to move back home since we were paying for the house and I could save so much more money while working full time WHILE doing the side hustle of building a business from the ground up. Take advantage of such a glorified opportunity, right?
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
Even with my skills and experience, the job market was tough in the area and I couldn’t find any opportunities that were a good fit.
But, I couldn’t go home without a job or a source of steady income. Although I was living with family, I couldn’t nor did I have the desire to depend on anyone else for my well-being and lifestyle.
Just before I moved out of Pasadena, I found the most random gig on Craigslist that was aligned with my skillset.
Although it was way below my pay grade, I took it anyway because it was literally the best and only thing I had going for me.
Through the Craigslist gig, and from keeping my previous position as part-time, I was able to relieve a lot of debt and gained a ton of experience within 3 months.
There were little pockets of joy happening here and there, including the publication of my Teen Vogue article, but I wasn’t happy at all.
Actually, the whole time I was living at home, I was in a constant state of anxiety and fear for my well-being.
A few years before we purchased the home, a certain family member began putting me in a very uncomfortable position in the way they would randomly place their hands on a very particular part of my body as they walked near me when we were alone in a room.
Because it happened seldomly and unpredictably, I brushed it off thinking they were all mistakes and that I was making a big deal out of it despite how weird and wrong it felt.
When I moved back home, these “mistakes” started happening more frequently.
The tension didn’t end at home.
Whenever I showed up to the office for the gig from Craigslist, I was always worried for myself. The person who contracted me for work was always nice to me, but had a demeanor that was entirely questionable.
I was constantly tense because I wasn’t sure if the way that person talked about the clients they didn’t like was the same way they spoke of me behind my back.
Or if the way they were always demeaning and sexualizing women was the reason why I was hired in the first place. This person was the complete opposite of everything I stood for as a woman and I was so embarrassed to be associated with them.
Five months into enduring the heartache and headache of my experiences with these two particular individuals, I cracked.
I was afraid to be alone with these two individuals and men in general, I cried every night and started regressing from the progress I had made with healing from previous trauma.
I ultimately decided that both my home and work environment was unsafe and unfit for my well-being and in a haste, I moved back to Orange County.
Choosing OC was a safe bet. It was where I initially began my career, I had enough connections there including family and friends, and financially, it made the most sense for my situation at the time.
I got extremely lucky with finding a room for rent with a family through a Facebook Marketplace listing. To this day, I always tell people that moving to this house in OC has been completely life changing for me.
As soon as I moved back to OC, a lot of incredible things happened. I signed on 2 additional clients the month after settling in and made more money.
Half a year after that, I was contracted to take on a big project with a returning client. I was being referred to new contacts at twice the rate and began working out of a co-working space to help manage my environment and schedule.
Today, my business is 100% referrals AND 100% referred to by women AND 100% in partnership with women (meaning my direct contacts for each client is a woman).
It may not stay that way forever, however I’m so proud of where I’m at and am confident I made the right decision to transition into self-employment.
Through the thrills and the tears, here’s what I want you to consider when starting out:
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO START
Clearly, nothing about my situation before I started and when I started was “right.” I was actually in debt at the time, had zero money saved up, and no plan of action for how I was going to get clients. I didn’t set any goals and didn’t have a business plan.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do aside from utilizing the skills I’ve learned along the way of my career.
I just had a desire to try it, and luckily, a support system to back me up. I wouldn’t typically recommend resigning without a job, without emergency funds or without an idea of what you want to do, but I’ll always recommend going with your gut.
SPEAK UP TO A CONFIDANT WHEN YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE
I know this is easier said than done. I acknowledge that because I have a history of sexual trauma from childhood into adulthood, and was still healing from my experiences, I was vulnerable and susceptible to being manipulated into what would’ve been a sexually abusive cycle.
Even if I didn’t speak up to the perpetrator from home at the time, if I could’ve communicated to a confidant that I felt uncomfortable or weird about something I was experiencing, that could’ve been an opportunity for someone from my support system to help me earlier when I needed it most.
BE VERY THOROUGH WHEN ASSESSING WHICH PROJECTS AND CLIENTS TO TAKE ON
I thought heavily about what it would mean for me if I said yes to the gig from Craigslist. I was in a position to accept and I knew that this would give me an opportunity to learn more based on what I knew about the hiring person.
The best thing that came out of the gig, aside from having a hand that fed me, was that I learned a lot about working at an agency and doing website development projects.
I eventually cut ties with that person about a year after I moved to OC. Communicating with this person from a distance helped ease things up for me which is why I chose to continue working for them, but I can’t tell you that it made me think any better of that person.
Now, I’m so much more stern about who I get connected with and am very cautious about new opportunities.
I have so much more about self employment and owning a business that I want to share with you and this is only the beginning!
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What were some hard lessons you learned early on in your career?