If Impostor Syndrome needed a model……It could have been me.
For much of my employed life, the first couple of years of my son’s life (he’s now all of 2.5), the whole of rebuilding our crumbling house and definitely my first forays into a new working life as a freelancing professional parent, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t quite measure up. When I quit my permanent job to try to achieve a better work-life balance as a new mum with a building project, on some level I felt I had ‘lost’. Maybe I didn’t belong there after all.
So where do you start when you can’t stay-at-home-parent any more?
The job ads, that all seem to say ’40+ hrs per week, office-based, some evening and weekend work’? Tap up family and friends for some marketing jobs? Read a *lot* of twitter freelance chat and wonder how you’ll compete? Can you even do it with a new-business-starting husband, no childcare and no funds with which to buy any?
Finding a place
Perhaps the ideal is to see what comes up via people in your sector when you happen across an evening networking event for charity people with a theme and some activities (Pluses – charity people, wine, organized chat, husband on bedtime duty. Minuses – it’s still networking). I’ve previously found networking events to be a paralysingly terrifying exercise in interrupting strangers’ conversations, and/or spent entire events chatting with the event organizer at the bar… So reminding myself that everything will be alright in the end really, I booked that first Charity Meetup. And then checked on twitter that I’d know at least a couple of people there…
From a nervous new-mum ‘night out’ that I could ‘justify’ because it had something to do with working at charities, to an encouraging chat with others starting a freelance journey, to a confidence-boosting conversation which confirmed that charities might need my skills, to unbelievably helpful meetings about capital fundraising and governance which confirmed how much I need and want to learn, the Charity Meetup has been part of my journey back into a healthier sort of relationship with work, as well as myself.
…and so, it seems, is confidence or a flexible career.
It all just depends on finding some helpful souls to make the process a little less daunting, whether that’s a builder for whom no problem seems a problem, the team at Bloomsbury Beginnings who offer the holy grail for new freelance parents – flexible workspace WITH A CRÈCHE – or one of the fascinating group of people who ‘do’ charity and like to share tips, stories and ideas at the Charity Meetup, and afterwards.
Charity Meetup is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to meet people working in, with or for charities.
Guest Blogger: Ally Rea