2017 was the year sh*t got real. I had been limping along, half-heartedly pursuing freelance writing and editing gigs part time for the last few years, unable to cut the umbilical cord to the corporate world. And then the corporate world cut me.
At the end of August my position at one of the largest physician services companies in the country was eliminated, ending my seven-year career there. After an acquisition followed by a merger that had begun to feel like a takeover, I knew there was a good chance I’d be given my walking papers. As talented colleagues were downsized, my role was downscaled. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, but enjoyed working with our physicians, gaining their trust and telling their personal stories. So, I hung on.
In situations like these, waiting can be a choice, or it can be a sign of catatonia. For me, it was clearly a choice, and then the decision was made for me. I won’t lie, I was shocked when I received the call. Having never been let go before, my initial reaction was tears, and then I started moving through Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s Five Stages of Grief – sometimes feeling all five at the same moment. I knew their decision was based on economics, and not personal, but it stung just the same.
I gave myself that first weekend to wallow, and on Monday I started pounding the digital pavement. I reached out to my LinkedIn network, informing them of my career change and letting them know that I had launched my own business. And just a quickly as my ego was bruised by the layoff, my contacts confirmed that I had indeed brought value to the industry. They offered to meet for coffee, send me RFPs, introduce me to the marketing communications decision-makers on their teams. I felt validated and vindicated. And a bit petrified.
As I’m wrapping up my first full quarter as a freelance writer and editor, I still battle with doubts and moments of sheer terror. But I love words, and I love – and excel at – helping companies communicate with their audiences. I’m excited when a client requests a strategy document. I delve into the research, and offer actionable steps that they can take to move the needle toward hitting their marketing, sales and communications goals. I rework tired copy and make it sing with new life. I’m getting a steady stream of work, some challenging, some fun – always fulfilling. I am doing my best work, and it’s under my terms.
Sure, I’ve made some mistakes this year, but by quickly turning a career tragedy into a career triumph, I feel more “me” than I have in years. For two decades I’ve pushed executives to use their authentic voice in their communications and speak to employees on paper just as they would in person. I’ve found MY authentic voice this year, and I am so very excited for what 2018 holds for my business.