This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Believe in yourself if you want others to do the same

Have you ever felt judged by someone because of what you do or who you are? How did you work through that? Here today to tell you her story is Katie Hinderer. As part of this year's Blogathon, we're hosting Guest Blogger Day. All participants (See the full list on the right-hand side of this page.) decided to switch things up a bit by partnering with another writer to post on their blogs. It's my first time ever to utilize the guest blogger concept, and I partnered with Katie Hinderer--a freelance journalist who covers business, hip hop, entertainment and lifestyle topics for a variety of publications. She's currently working on penning a young adult novel and usually blogs at Write Beyond the Cubicle (I'm there today!) with tips and tidbits for other writers. I'm sure you'll be able to relate to what she has to say about judgment...

Three years of making the same commute, sitting behind the same desk, in front of the same computer, listening to the same lame jokes and trying to ignore the same scary people in the office - and I was ready to scream. (Actually I held three different journalism jobs in those three years, but they were a lot of the same.)

In 2007, when an opportunity arose to move closer to family I jumped at it without a job lined up. I hopped on my BIKE and started pedaling toward self-discovery.

After job searching for months with nothing to show for it, I took a part-time job at a women’s clothing store. As much as I didn’t like folding the same t-shirt 12 times a day, I loved the job. The manager gave me a lot of freedom, let me take charge of the window displays, the wall designs, the organization of the stock room...It was great. I ended up working there 14 months.

Because of that, I realized I needed a chance to let my creative side out more and to be my own boss. I couldn’t sit behind a desk in a stuffy office again. I needed flexibility, creativity and a chance to keep up my involvement with words.

I started applying to dozens of freelance positions. Most of them were scams, make-money-quick schemes, and some were downright sketchy. But there were a few, that needle in the haystack, that were legit. I pitched those publications, followed up and for some of them got the job.

It took months to build up enough clients to quit the retail job and several more months to be able to begin paying off those lovely student loans hanging over my head. Now I’m totally viable, with more gigs coming in weekly and three steady jobs.

Trying to figure out if I was doing the right thing, if I could motivate myself enough, if I’d actually be able to make money this way was truly petrifying at times.

Still, the hardest part was being able to hold my head up high and tell people that I am a full-time freelancer. Most people think that is my clever way of saying I’m still unemployed. Some people ask what else I do. At first I beat around the bush when answering. But one day, as I was describing what I do to a close friend, I realized this job style fits me perfectly. I, therefore, don’t need to apologize for it.

The other day, for example, I ran into an acquaintance when I was out for a run. She asked how my retail job was going. Instantly, I got the familiar sinking feeling - I’m about to tell her I freelance, and she’ll judge that fact as bad. Instead, I told her, "I left that job. I'm focusing totally on my writing now."

As usually happens, her face contorted in horror as she said, “How sad! Do you think it will ever pay? Will you move back home to live with your parents?”

For a moment I felt stupid and upset. (Like when my brother-in-law told me I should blog for him, since I sit around all day doing nothing. He, of course, doesn’t have the time, because he’s too busy at work.) No, I don’t have a traditional job. But writing is what I do, and more importantly it's what I love doing. So I smiled back at her and said, "I enjoy the flexibility it gives me. And, no, I won’t be moving in with my parents. As a matter of fact, I make more money now than I did at my last two ‘real’ jobs."

She seemed surprised to hear that.

True, I don’t work well behind a desk. I don’t work well with a boss looking over my shoulder. I don’t like the constraints of a 9-5. I love working at nights and on the weekends. I love writing in coffee shops, parks, the library and my car. I want to be able to train for the Chicago Marathon at 2 in the afternoon if that’s best for me. I enjoy the fact that on a given day I may write a business article, interview a hip hop star and blog about teen movies. While this is all a little out of the ordinary, this doesn’t mean I’m financially irresponsible. I work hard. I put in a lot of hours.

While it was nearly a two-year journey to get to this place, I’m finally off the professional-discovery bike and hopping on the perfecting-my-craft bicycle.

What do you think about Katie's journey? Have you ever experienced judgment about what you do or who you are? How did you learn to believe in yourself, to accept that your decision was the right one for you? Was there a BIKE involved in any way? Post your comments below. We'd both love to hear from you.


Michelle Rafter said...

Thanks for sharing your story Katie, it's great to hear the different paths writers have taken to strike out on their own. I've freelanced three different times over a 20+ career, always for different reasons, and been happy with my choice every time.

Off to read Jackie's post now.

Michelle Rafter

The BIKE Lady said...


Thanks for visiting and commenting on Katie's post. I don't think the way she transitioned is uncommon at all. My early days of freelancing were filled with self-doubt. You overcome it with each assignment, don't you? I think it might be similar with anyone who strikes out on their own, especially that first time.


Jennifer Fink said...

I liked hearing how she moved along the path toward financially self-sufficience, because I'm still working to get there. It's good to know, though, that it happens!

For me, the move to writing was a matter of accepting that writing was what I'd always enjoyed doing. And realizing that perhaps that and my innate talent for words was enough -- that I didn't need to have "job security" or "excellent job prospects" just to try it.

Once I finally started writing, I finally felt at home. I'd been a nurse for 10 years, but never felt at home with the title "RN." "Writer" took a little longer to accept (did it seem presumptuous to call myself a writer?), but it always felt like home.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading Katie's post, too.

I had a lot of people ask me over the years (including family members, *sigh*) if I was ever planning to go back to science or teaching-- something that seemed more like "a real job" in their eyes.

It's a scary leap, and I've definitely doubted myself along the freelance path. But I'm really happy that I struck out on my own.


Katie Hinderer said...

So true - I think we all experience the same thing when first beginning. It's a tricky time. There's doubt mixed with passion for the art. And there's common sense asking how you're going to pay the next bill mixed with reckless abandon that says I don't care I want to do this.
Luckily for a lot of us it works out.

The BIKE Lady said...


Thanks so much for your post. It's generated interesting dialogue and comments and memories.


cris said...

Hi Katie,
I loved reading your story, I am so proud of you for fighting for what you love and making it! I think you are really brave and I wish I had time to learn how to write from you!
Cris Bofill