First of all CONGRATS to Tracy Llewellyn for being the Fall 2018 Winner of the Intuition for Tuition- Poshified Scholarship! This is never an easy process as I read countless applications that also are so deserving of this Scholarship. Thank you to all that have entered and please know you can apply again for the Spring 2019 Poshified Intuition for Tuition Scholarship Program.
To reward and encourage! We all face hard in life and listening to our gut during the hard is not always the easy route. Thank you Tracy for allowing us to hear your story and sharing your strength with us!!
Tracy Llewellyn- Winner of Poshified Fall Scholarship
Most times, I believe that we are encouraged to go with conventional wisdom and follow a preset path because everyone else has. We are told to play it safe and the older we get, become more risk averse and fall into being comfortable. For me, the career advice I had usually gotten was to find a stable long-term job at a company that I can grow with, but my path has not turned out that way. After nearly 12 years working in the real world, I had found that taking the leap to become self-employed—risky as it may be—was the best decision I made for not only my career but also my personal growth.
Since I completed undergrad, I had held back-to-back full time positions as an industrial/product designer at a few different companies based here in New York City. At the time, the goal was to find a role that I liked and get as much experience as possible to continue in my professional growth. Candidly speaking, I absolutely hated the jobs I had during the first half of my professional life. My positions felt like that of a cog in a wheel at companies that proved to have no growth for creative staff. To add to that, being a newbie around the late 2000s and early 2010’s was tough given the recession of the time. I had felt stuck. Whenever any position opened, even if it was not so great, I applied anyway if it was slightly better than where I was.
I had never known the idea of “comfortable” when it came to my career. Most times I worked extra hours that, being on salary, were not paid. Conversely, there were many times that I was underutilized. I always felt that I was capable of and worth more but did not find the outlet for my skills at any company I was employed with. My last full time position was at a company that I really liked, I had a great team to work with, and for the first time in my career I was happy. But this position was also plagued with excessive long hours working on the same things. I was not only feeling run down but worse—I was bored.
When the company had a massive layoff and my division was practically axed, I was shocked and scared. I had never been let got nor unemployed before and I did not know what to do with myself. While I was working as a full time designer, thoughts of going freelance had crossed my mind every now and again—mostly because of all the unpaid hours I had worked. After a few weeks of panicking and frantically searching for a new job, my gut told me that I should re-visit the idea of being a self-employed contractor. I had no idea how to run a small business, but the realization that there was no such thing as job security was convincing enough to try. I deeply believed that the best course of action was to build up my skills, use my connections, and start to gain credibility in my industry as a freelancer.
It was not easy making this move. I had started one gig while in the process of creating my LLC, which is a costly process in New York. And while I had gained some steam with some long-term contract roles, there were rough patches; times when I could not find any work for weeks, when money ran low and I had to reach out to friends and family for help, waiting several weeks to get paid for a project. There was a point when it was so hard to find work that I had to apply for unemployment. The suggestions from loved ones to “get a real, secure job” poured in and I felt as though I failed at keeping my business going. Feeling ashamed, I cried a lot and I prayed a lot. But I began to use my workless days to keep building: creating artwork, practicing software skills, and spending more time in prayer and meditating getting to know God. Although I was half-heartedly looking for a full time “real job”, I intuitively knew that it would not make sense for me to go back to one in this time. I still had to focus on the build up, and continuing my education was on the horizon.
Thankfully, I not only got new contract positions, but they were of higher value than the previous ones, which helped me to bounce back. I was also able to take the continuing education class I had my eye on to lay foundation for my master’s degree—plus I successfully got accepted into graduate school. Pushing through the tough times, fear, and failure proved to be better for my path. To date, I have been self-employed longer than any of my previous jobs. Being my own boss has made me feel more empowered over my time and value. A company doesn’t get to dictate my worth. As a contractor, I tell them my worth.
Through all this, especially during the hardest points, I learned that I was becoming more in tune with who I am mentally and spiritually. Settling for work I hated scared me more than the ups and downs of self-employment. I strongly believe that I am built for more, so to be the professional and person that I am meant to be and to cultivate my character, I had to jump into the deep end and believe that I could swim. I have far more confidence and a deeper sense of self than I ever had in the past, and to get there I had to venture away from what people call “safe” and “secure”. I learned to trust my own convictions and press forward in faith that I was going in the right direction for my life. I have found my compass.