It was near the end of my senior year in high school when I first discovered I might be an idiot.
That’s when my classmates voted me Most Gullible. (Technically, because our class decided to use movie titles for our honorifics, I was voted Most Clueless, taken from a movie I didn’t know existed and wouldn’t see until many years later.)
Being naive wasn’t, until my classmates voted, on the menu of anxieties and fears from which my teenage self ate regularly. But my peers got it right. I am naive.
And some things never change. Were my friends to vote today, there’s a good chance they’d select me as Most Gullible, which is fine with me.
Because after a year-and-a-half of being a full-time freelance writer, I’ve realized one trait you need to make this leap is being a little naive. Here’s why.
If I had only known…
At the time I decided to become self-employed, I earned an excellent salary. So continuing my career as-is for the next 30 years or so made the most sense.
Along the way, my husband and I would live a comfortable life with trips and clothes shopping as we desired. Then we would retire and maybe take up hobbies we’d been too busy or stressed to pursue during our careers, such as writing.
But lack of logic is a known side effect of being gullible, a condition my high school classmates diagnosed me with, so I didn’t do the logical thing. Instead, I left my good-paying job to become the most desperate creature, a self-employed freelance writer.
It was Jan. 2020 when I took the plunge. Had I known that a pandemic would shutter the global economy within two months, I may have chosen to stay in my job.
And, if I’d known my husband and I would eat through an impressive chunk of our savings while I earned almost nothing for a couple of months, I may have stayed in my job. It’s breathtaking how quickly money disappears when you’re not receiving it.
You can say the same for paying self-employment taxes, covering business expenses, and handling clients. Had I realized the reality of full-time freelance writing, including how little time I have to write creatively for myself, I likely would have stayed in my salaried job.
If you’d told me in Jan. 2020 that in July 2021, I still wouldn’t have a newsletter with a massive email list, wouldn’t be getting commissioned to write $2,000 blog posts, and would still be working on the manuscript for my first novel, I may have opted not to become a full-time freelance writer.
And that would’ve been a mistake.
Oblivious into happiness
There are tasks I dread doing — working with my accountant on my taxes, for example.
Yet there isn’t a Monday morning I dread. On the contrary, on most Sunday evenings, I find myself excited about the day to come. I’m eager to get back to my work week routine.
It feels terrible to say while so many suffer and our planet’s going up in flames, but I’ve never been happier.
Becoming a full-time freelance writer is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, perhaps second only to marrying my husband. (Without whom, I couldn’t be a self-employed writer for financial and emotional support reasons.)
Not that it’s easy. Self-employment is never simple, certainly not so during a pandemic. Daily, there are challenges, disappointments, and doubts.
Am I earning enough money? Is my writing good enough? Do I need more clients? Why does my novel hate me?
But I adore the work, the writing, the grind of stringing together sentences. And I love the freedom I have over my time and the projects on which I work. For the first time in my professional life, it feels as if I’m doing what I was born to do, living the life I should live.
However, all of it wouldn’t be happening if I’d not been naive about full-time self-employment. There’s a marvelously long list of stuff that could’ve kept me from making the jump to creative entrepreneurship.
Yet I was too clueless, the Most Clueless, you could say, to know what I was getting myself into. Thank the heavens for that.
Embrace your negatives
We all have qualities that may not appear as assets, especially to other people. But our weaknesses can sometimes be our strengths.
While I may be naive, I’m not stupid. Had I known the road ahead, I may not have chosen to do a challenging thing during a tough time.
Yet, when things got rough, I adapted. Over the past year, I’ve learned and grown.
Next time you start beating yourself up over being who you are, consider viewing it in a different light.
Maybe, when seen from a new angle, what you consider a negative is actually your secret ingredient to happiness, fulfillment, and success.
This article originally appeared on Medium.