And that was an interesting year. A year of new beginnings in some ways, but also false starts. Definitely a learning experience.
The main thing I did in 2013 was going freelance. I’d been thinking about it for months, and finally took the plunge in February. In the short term, I’d been working on a web site in my off hours, and it was burning me out. If I could work on it full-time, I reasoned, I’d be less stressed, and have more time to work on other projects I really enjoyed.
Which… didn’t quite work out as I planned. First, my time management skills were somewhat lacking, and working 100% on my own meant I was responsible for every aspect of my business, as well as my personal life. Second, I was unprepared for how isolating working from home would be. Third, though I was reluctant to admit it, I don’t really have the temperament for freelancing. I needed to be someone way more outgoing and confident, schmoozing and getting contracts. I did do some of that, but not nearly enough.
In the end, though work did pick up somewhat near the end (mostly through referrals from colleagues), I just wasn’t making enough money. So when my old boss offered me my job back, I said yes. Had to think about it, though. Part of me wanted to keep trying, that stopping now would feel like failure… but I had to face reality: I just wasn’t ready. Best to write those 9 months off as a learning experience. It was not wasted time, and it was not a failure.
But what now? Well, I’m not giving up on the freelance experience completely: I’ve still got a few little side projects, and who knows? In a few years, once I’ve polished my skills (not just development, but all relevant skills) and beefed up my network, I may give it another shot. But if/when it happens I’ll definitely be better prepared.
But though money was tight, since my schedule was more flexible I traveled more for gay volleyball tournaments: Ottawa in mid March, Calgary on Easter weekend, Regina for Thanksgiving. Okay, Ottawa wasn’t exactly terra incognita, but I hadn’t been to Ottawa U in ages, and it kind of felt new, y’know? But overall, it felt great to visit brand new places. It’s been way too long since I’ve traveled anywhere except to visit family over the holidays. There’s a whole wide world waiting for me!
And a few more new things this year:
Dyeing my hair for Pride. And since it was my first time, and Pride, I naturally had to go all out and dye it ALL THE COLOURS. But the really awesome thing? Those selfies were the first photos of myself in ages that I was really happy with. Usually I’m awkward and shy around cameras, but there I was smiling and curious about my new look. Huh. Maybe I should dye my hair more often!
A week later when I had to meet a client. So that was potentially a little awkward, but nobody said anything. And a week after that, I decided to chop it all off. The colours were fading, I was getting a little shaggy, and I’d always kind of wanted to try the skinhead look but then always chickened out at the stylist. But now I had a razor with removable heads, so I took care of it myself!
And eventually I grew it back a bit. The skinhead look’s not for me after all, but I’m enjoying having ultra-short hair.
A couple months before at Northern Voice, I got up on stage with Dave Olson for his ending talk-slash-fireside-chat. When he asked for volunteers to join him I was all, “What the hell, YOLO” and went right up. I’d expected more hesitation on my part (or probably even just staying in my seat) but it was surprisingly easy. Telling a cute guy I think he’s cute? Really hard. Being on stage (when I’m not the centre of attention, at least)? Apparently not that hard.
And I almost forgot another first: volunteering for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus Christmas show. I’ve been going to all their concerts for the last couple of years, but this time I procrastinated just a little too long, and they sold out in record time. I moaned about it on Twitter, and the VMC Twitter account replied, asking if I wanted to volunteer. Well, of course I said yes, and it so happened that the two night they still needed volunteers for were the two nights I was available!
And it was tons of fun. I got to see the show twice, wear funky masks, meet some new people and meet up with friends in the chorus. Plus, I helped sell raffle tickets which meant going up to talk to strangers. I was flashing back—just a little—to having to sell those chocolate bars and calendars and things in cub scouts, but I really enjoyed it. I’m still not terribly outgoing, so this was good social practice. Most interestingly, I wasn’t the shyest volunteer there! So that was some interesting perspective right there…
So that was the year’s highlights. It might not seem like a lot, and part of me worries I should have done more, and greater things. Maybe. But you know what? I’ll just enjoy the victories. And look forward to many more in the coming year.