Spill It: Did You Choose Freelancing, or Did It Choose You?

About four years ago, I walked into my publisher’s office and handed him a resignation letter.

I didn’t do it as a negotiation tactic. I wasn’t trying to force his hand. All I wanted was to give this freelancing thing a shot: to be my own boss, pick and choose my own projects, and have the time and energy to write more of my own stuff.

No salary range… no full-time dream job… could have lured me back to the corporate workforce.

The thing is, many people in my life just assumed I was looking for something better. They didn’t see freelancing as a viable career option. One well-meaning friend even offered to treat me on all future meals: “… just until you find a new job,” she said.

“This is my new job!” I replied.

Now more than ever, it’s easy for the traditionally employed to make this mistake. According to a recent survey, 24 percent of freelancers only went the self-employed route after being downsized.

And while I think that entrepreneurship is a great option for those who have lost their jobs and want to have greater control over their careers, I’m sick of people assuming that the work I do was a last-ditch move made out of desperation.

I feel as if I’m constantly seeking out legitimacy in the eyes of those who just don’t get it: You’ve been published in BLANK? I’ve never read it. You’ve earned your certification for WHAT!? Why would someone pay you for that? You wrote a book? Is it a REAL book? (Um… I earn royalties on it. Does that make it “real”?)

I’m curious: How many of you chose freelancing, and how many of you came to freelancing as a means of surviving unemployment? For those for whom it was a Plan B… are you dying to find a new full-time job, or are you sorta digging this? For those who went full-time freelancedom of their own volition, is there anything that would tempt you back to Corporate America? And how in heck do y’all describe your career to other people in your life?

Related: Crowdsourcing: Does the Corporate Ladder Still Beckon?, Pinpointing Dream Job #328, When I’m Not Home…