On Saying No

One thing that is difficult to grasp when you are a freelancer is that you do not have to take every opportunity that comes your way. Most of my existing clients are long-term which means I am not actively hustlin’ for new work 24/7, so right now I don’t have to worry about whether or not I am going to be able to pay rent as much as I have in the past. This means I will not starve to death if I say no, but don’t try telling me that when someone contacts me about a job.

I have a nagging feeling anytime someone reaches out to me about an opportunity that I have to take it and cannot let it pass up and should at least try and what if it’s my big break, OMG what if it means I get to become best friends with Anna Wintour and it affords me a personal trainer and I’ll be able to live in California and retire at 30? You’d think I was risking throwing away a request to get paid to spend all of Bill Gates’ money on myself.

I had someone contact me about a local opportunity the other day. I asked for more info on it and before you know it, she had scheduled a meeting for me with the company the next day. The morning of the meeting I was scrambling stuff together trying to create some legible semblance of a physical portfolio while layering on mascara and flat ironing my hair when I started feeling really weird and anxious. Well, I wasn’t just anxious. I was dreading this meeting. I didn’t want to go and I knew I didn’t want or need to find new work.

I tried deciphering whether the reason I didn’t want to go was because I wanted to spend the afternoon working out and catching up on Downton Abbey, or because I was legitimately not interested in the job. I knew that if I took this, I would have to ditch one or two existing clients. Did I really want to do that?

Was this gig going to be better than what I am doing now? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t have known unless I went to the meeting. I cancelled and told them I was not in a position to take on additional work, because I’m not, and the only reason I was going was because the lady hurriedly made me an appointment and I felt obligated to attend and my brain kept telling me “you are not a millionaire, therefore you cannot afford to pass this up.”

Of course I felt like a douchebag for cancelling a few hours in advance, but still need to remember that it is not against the law to say no as a freelancer. Yes, we need to be on our constant hustlin’ game and hope for the best while preparing for the worst, but saying no does not equal career suicide. I am happy with where I am right now and I like the work I am doing, so unless there is an opportunity that knocks everything out of the park, I am not going to jump on it just because I have a constant fear of missing out.

But hey, at least my hair and eyelashes looked FABULOUS at the gym.

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About the Author: Becky