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In a world dominated by people who willingly submit themselves to what society expects of them, I beg to differ. It all started with a life decision that seemed right at the moment but backfired later on.
I am a New York based content writer doing freelance work during weekends. I’m currently tied up with an up-and-coming content writing and marketing company in Amityville.
Normally, students that are fresh out of high school choose a degree of their liking or what their parents shove down their throat. My parents never forced me anything, including my degree choice, so I took up Business & Finance at Long Island University.
I lived the dream in my freshman and sophomore years. I consistently made Dean’s List with ease, thanks to my innate inclination with graphs and numbers. Thanks to my academic scholarship, my parents had spare money for my siblings’ education.
Things started to go downhill when I lost my scholarship because my GPA didn’t make the cut. For someone who’s been a consistent achiever, it deeply wrenched my heart. I almost fell into depression, but somehow, I managed to go on.
One more year left, and my family’s about to celebrate the birth of the first banker in the family. Even in my senior year, I had my vision for the long-term -getting my Professional Banker Certificate weeks after graduation.
It was not until midway of my senior year that I realized that Finance will not suit me in the long run. It was not until that same time I fully realized the hassles and stresses associated with a professional banking job.
I tried to tell my parents about how unhappy I was suddenly. It took me a few attempts, then I finally mustered the courage to do so.
“Fine, you can sit out next semester and come back the next,” those were their exact words.
But I know in my heart that it isn’t rest or leisure I need. What I need is a profession that will nurture my creativity and isn’t that rigid.
“And what would that “nurturing” profession be?” they asked.
“I’ve always had a knack for writing, be it web content or poetry,” I replied.
That’s the time I finally introduced to them a passion of mine that was long buried: writing.
As expected, they opposed it. My parents were furious in thinking of the idea that I’ll be throwing a sure cash cow job for one with no financial guarantee.
Even more, they hate the idea that I’ll be throwing away four years of my life, and all the finance-related learnings I accumulated with it. I somehow tried to argue by convincing them that all of my learnings will not go for naught as it’s now a part of me.
In the end, they accepted my decision, believing that I’m solely responsible for my future.
Debacles Along The Way
Starting from scratch is never easy, as well as taking a leap of faith on something that has no assurance. I decided to pursue my web content writing endeavor, but before I could start anything, I need clients and projects to work on.
Making pitches to potential clients from various websites and freelance writing platforms (e.g., Upwork, Freelancer, Elance, etc.) is the easy part, their reply is what’s hard to swallow.
Majority of those guys demanded a writing sample. There are those who don’t require one, but those were online scammers who took advantage of my work for free. The first few months were really embarrassing. I barely had the money to pay my apartment.
Now how will an artist or a writer have samples to show? It’s by having their names credited at the end of their online piece. Who’ll gladly put your name there with your professional website? No one. It’s either you engage with paid guest posts for high domain authority sites (DA) (e.g., Huffington Post, Forbes, etc.) or do it for free in less renowned sites.
What could be worse than not having a substantial number of clients and projects? It’s attending college and family reunions.
For instance, a relative usually asks my mom if I “finally made it.” My mom would tell half the truth, saying that I haven’t finished studying yet though I’ll be back. Whenever we’re on our way home, she would often tell me how hard it is to lie, considering that even my younger siblings are nearing their own college graduation.
Now here come my irritating college friends who endlessly bug me with questions like, “When will you get your act together?” Without them telling, I can see how little I’ve become to their eyes. It felt as if they’re mocking me with their stories of how competitive their bank salaries are.
The Point of No Return
After all the criticisms, belittlement, and failures to find consistent projects, I was at the edge of giving up.
It’s as if the whole world’s telling me that I made a very bad decision to forego my banking career. I became clinically depressed for 6 months. I frequently locked myself in my room, thinking of whether to raise the white flag for the passion I love.
I became really broke and hopeless. My parents even had to pay for my apartment, food, and medicines so I could survive.
It took me a year before I could patch things up. Finally, I woke up. I realized that nothing in this world can dictate my way of life. If it’s the way of words I love, then I have to fight for it.
I started learning copywriting techniques, enrolled myself in short e-courses, and even ventured into SEO basics to complement my content writing.
I painstakingly completed many small projects, and guest posted for free so I could set up my portfolio. Some clients, then, were able to recognize my growing skill and retained me at their freelance list. Some were really profitable gigs, while others are relatively cheaper. I had to write faster and wiser so I could earn more.
Just when things started to get better, I received an email from a highly satisfied client who wants me to replace their then-resigned resident writer. Finally! It was the real work experience I needed for so long!
Fast forward to 3 years and I’m now the resident content chief in our growing company. The job isn’t only fulfilling, but also given me access to a new community of potent clients, thanks to my co-employees.
I’m now planning to further my studies at Columbia University – New York.
What’s My Life’s Morale?
It’s about defying the odds in life. I was beleaguered, depressed, broke, and belittled by countless people in my life due to the fact that I dropped out of college. What they didn’t know was that I never liked following the popular trail, but creating my own.
You only get one shot in life, so why not spend it living the way you want it to be? I could have given to the urge of my parents to continue something that I’m no longer happy about, but I resisted.
I could have given to the urge of my parents to continue something that I’m no longer happy about, but I resisted. The same should go for you but always see to it that you couple your dreams with hard work and resiliency.