Positive? Me?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post, all about how my freelance work is going. And the overwhelming response from everyone who read it was: ‘What a positive post!’.

Hang on a minute! Positive? Me? I’m not positive. I’m kind of grumpy and my glass is always half empty. I’m a pessimist who worries about things that may never happen. I am most definitely not positive.

But it was those comments that made me realise something. I’m not that glass half empty kind of person any more. I’m a new person. Or I’m not a new person. I’m just me. I’m the me I always knew was there. The me buried under a whole load of worrying about stuff and feeling I wasn’t good enough. The me who spent 15 years working at the bottom of the pile.

I hadn’t realised how much working at the bottom of the pile for 15 years had sucked all confidence out of me and how, slowly but surely, I had got my confidence back.

When I worked at the council, people didn’t give work to me directly. I was way too inferior. Work might go to the communications manager, who would pass it to the press office manager. She might pass it direct to me or she might pass it to a senior communications officer (generally 10 years younger and way less experienced than me), who would then pass it to me. Little old communications officer. Perceived to be a bit rubbish because I was at the bottom of the pile. Sod the 15 years experience. Sod the fact that I was only at the bottom of the pile due to the three kids I’d popped out, meaning I was unable to work full time.

My position at the bottom of the pile meant 99% of people in that organisation were blind to what I could actually do.

I could write. Well.

I could spot a story and make it newsworthy and easy to understand.

I could proofread.

I could manage the social media.

I could do all of those and hundreds of other things besides. Because I had the skills picked up from years of experience. But working in an organisation with a huge hierarchy meant that I got no credit for these things. Surely someone at the bottom of the pile just couldn’t have those skills?

And here I am now.

I talk to people confidently. I’m just me. I don’t pretend to be something or someone I’m not. I know I can do the work clients give me, and I tell them so. Then I go and prove it by doing a good job. So they ask me to do another job.

Then I get an email which says something like this: ‘We’re really impressed with your work… ‘

Because they can see the years of experience in what I do. That a 41 year old woman with three kids is not someone to be ignored and given the rubbish jobs, but someone who has the skills to do a really good job. Someone to be treated as an equal. Because we are all equals. We are human beings with jobs and lives and families. We all have to make ends meet, we all have to juggle to get through the day. There is no hierarchy. We’re just all doing the best we can.

It’s crept up on me, but I realise I am now a positive person.

I’m the bottom of nobody’s pile now. There is no pile. There is only me.

Work, freelance, positive

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Hey Sarah, this is as inspiring a post as i’ve ever read. It’s the story i suspect of the vast majority of people, mostly women, and i certainly include myself as one.. Have just written a post which touches on the reason for this in my own childhood, but ultimately it takes half a lifetime if we’re lucky to realise who and what we really are.
    I salute you too for standing up for yourself. It reminds me that it can be done not in a boastful way but honestly and with dignity. Jo x

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you for such a lovely comment, Jo, I really appreciate it. You’re right, this really is the reality for so many women. x

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  2. WoW! As I read this I’m currently at my desk at home about to embark on some freelance work myself (should be doing that instead of Blog hopping, tbh, but that’s another story!!)
    It’s so frustrating that organisations can push people down and wear down their confidence because of the ‘box’ they put them in rather than see them for what they are. And unfortunately that happens mainly to women as we are the ones who take time out to have children then try and juggle our lives/work around family so often take a job which may not befit our experience but works for our family life. But that is no reason for that person to be denigrated.
    I am really pleased for you, this article does you proud, as there are many women in the same position needing that extra little push to realise that they don’t have to be at the bottom of the pile.
    Positive thinking all the way

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, I really appreciate your comment. It’s so true this happens to a lot of women – as soon as you’ve had kids people are unable to see what you’re actually capable of.
      Good luck to you with the freelancing! (And keep on blog hopping! I do plenty of that too!)

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    • Thanks very much 🙂 x

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  3. Great post and I’m sure one lots of parents can relate to. Since going back to work part-time my career has taken a slide and it is soul destroying.

    I changed jobs after a year of others being promoted and being told by the male Marketing Director you can’t be senior and part time.

    My current contract runs out next month and I am on mat leave but am always wondering what to do next with freelance being a real, yet terrifying, option.

    If I do go for it I hope it pays off like it clearly has for you.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! So sorry to hear about your career sliding 🙁
      Good luck to you if you decide to go for it. I was lucky to have redundancy money behind me to take the pressure off – and no kids at home during the school day!

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  4. What a great read! I love this post, it just encapsulates everything you’ve achieved over the last 6 months – so much! Well done. And I love the sentiment ‘there is no pile’! This make me want to put myself ‘out there’ – you should be a motivator too!

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    • Thanks very much! You should do it!
      (I’m probably way too grumpy and cynical to be a motivator!)

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    • Yay! Thank you 🙂

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    • Thanks very much! What a lovely thing to say 🙂

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  5. I wanted to fist pump the air after reading that. Go get em girl! I was in same sort of boat. A publications officer, at one point working on my own (as they’d made everyone else redundant) and doing a senior job. So I jumped out and started earning the money I was worth….miss the pension though : -)

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    • Thanks very much! Your story really inspires me because it proves how far you can get.
      I haven’t given the pension much thought yet. My husband doesn’t have one either, so we’ll be in trouble!

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  6. A great post, Sarah, and it’s so great to see you express yourself with such confidence. My situation is different as I don’t work in PR or comms at all, but people are often surprised that I take such an interest in writing good, flowing copy and am a stickler for grammar. It’s as if sometimes our comms people forget that it’s possible for people who don’t have PR/comms in their job title to actually take an interest in the craft of writing and be quite good at it themselves! Well, it amuses me, anyway … 🙂

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  7. Thanks very much. It’s great that you care about writing and decent grammar even though you don’t work in that field. Sadly there are plenty of people who work in that filed who can’t write decent copy. (And if they don’t have kids, you can be pretty sure they’re senior to where I was!)

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  8. I think this is a post that many of us can identify with; but now that you’re in charge of your freelance career there’s no one to put you down and it’s time for you to show everyone exactly what you’re made of. Good luck x

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    • Thanks very much! It’s a really good experience. And if anyone does put me down at any point, I know I have the freedom to walk away and choose not to do their work. It’s very liberating. x

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  9. I do find being part time is challenging, you can’t go for everything, yet you are capable, yet you don’t want to impact the two days off…I have been very lucky with some good managers, (and err…the odd not so good) but I do know I can’t really progress until I go full time. Self employment suits you so well and you’re growing your business very nicely! Slow but steady…thats how it hangs around for good!

    Post a Reply
  10. I do find being part time is challenging, you can’t go for everything, yet you are capable, yet you don’t want to impact the two days off…I have been very lucky with some good managers, (and err…the odd not so good) but I do know I can’t really progress until I go full time. Self employment suits you so well and you’re growing your business very nicely! Slow but steady…thats how it hangs around for good!

    Post a Reply

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