Panic attack

I'm getting myself worked up into what could easily turn into a full-blown panic attack, and I need to do something about it. For now, I'll let some steam off here, and if that doesn't work, I'll have to attack the mojito's.

I don't know why all of a sudden the workless / work-free situation is feeling unbearable, but I have suddenly gone from feeling wonderful about it to being overwhelmed by a feeling of impending doom.

3 months ago, I started working with a woman, S, on a project for a mutual client. She was really enthusiastic at the prospect of us working together and wanted me to be part of her project to start up her own communication agency. We talked about it a few times, she wanted me to be her partner in the business, but could I meet with the two silent partners who were financing it all to discuss it with them? So I met with them and talked and decided I wasn't ready to give them the long-term commitment they expected, and my address book wasn't interesting enough for the prospection role they envisioned. So we decided I would work with S on a project basis, as a freelance, while she was expanding her business.

Now this was all fine by me, but the thing is, she's been stringing me along with vague promises of work for the past 2 months now, and I still haven't gotten a single job out of her. First she was going to hand some projects over to me during her holidays; then she left on holiday and there wasn't really anything for me to follow up, but she'd be in touch when she got back; then she dropped me a mail to say she was back but busy and would contact me the week after to discuss a new project; then she was sick and it would have to wait another week. And yesterday she emailed to say she would only know in two weeks' time if she'd secured the contract for the project she wants me to work on.

In the meantime, I haven't been actively seeking other work as a project manager, partly because it's the holidays and there's not a lot happening, but partly also because I've been keeping myself free for the work she's been dangling in front of me. And it's starting to dawn on me that it really isn't in my own best interest to approach it that way.
Meanwhile, S is persuaded we're not only going to work together, but I'll actually work exclusively for her as far as project management is concerned. She's been really enthusiastic about our collaboration, and I believe she is sincere, but she is really only looking out for herself - and I can't blame her. However, I need to start looking out for me... and that means looking for work elsewhere. And if I find something and can't work for her, then so be it. The problem is I just hate being the heartless, tough, businesswoman, and I'm stuck in trying-to-please mode again.

And then there's the other half of my freelance business: translation work. And there I've been quite actively prospecting new clients, answering ads, creating profiles on translation sites and responding to tenders... So far, so good, except I've come to the conclusion that the rates people expect you to charge and the rates you expect to get paid are about as far apart as I am from my ideal weight. I just can't believe the nerve of people (translation agencies, mostly) who expect you to work for such ludicrously low amounts. Nobody can survive on that. I used to earn more as a teenager, babysitting for the neighbours! Anyway, I nevertheless took on a few of the less badly paid assignments, but they are few and far between. Also, the level of proficiency that is expected in really specialised fields is ridiculous. Like no one's ever heard of a learning curve.

I just got asked for a quote on a job translating a ridiculous 93 words, and when I told them my minimum rate was 15 euro (most agencies have a minimum invoice amount of 27 euro or more), got told that was "waaaay over budget" and they preferred to look for someone else to do the job. So I asked what their budget was and didn't get a reply. These people can't be for real? Of course with the globalisation of the industry, they'll probably find a kid in India to do the job for the equivalent of 2 euro... and I really don't even want to compete with that.

I know this all sounds really bleak, but the thing is I am (or was) totally confident about working as a freelance. I still think I can do it, but I've got to stop sitting around waiting for S to give me the work she's been promising me. I've got to toughen up and accept that I might need to tell her I have other obligations when she finally decides to give me work.

So tomorrow I'll be sending some emails and contacting some interim agencies to see if I can get some work in the short term. Cause as much as I've been enjoying the time at home and the lack of stress of the past few months, I still need to earn a living, and that's not going to happen by just sitting on my ass waiting for the phone to ring...

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