Is This A Thing: Clean Slates and Long Mistakes

by Nia Hampton

Long Mistakes


Nia Hampton ponders her decision to take a “job” after freelancing for the past four years.

I always hated the phrase, “you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé”. Not even Beyoncé has the same 24 hours as “Beyoncé”. She has the combined time and energy of her entire staff. She’s not a one woman show by any stretch of the term; she’s always been a team player, and that’s her strength. Knowing how to play nicely with others helped her accomplish so many goals, and that’s a trait that, as I get older, I recognize makes a world of difference in everyday life. And maybe it’s not that I’m not a team player as much as I’ve always had trouble choosing a team… and sticking to the game.

I was on the illustrious Baltimore City College choir for nearly my entire high school career. But, in my junior year, I decided I wanted to play soccer. I went to try-outs and busted my ass, didn’t make the team and cried about it like it wasn’t my first time ever even playing soccer. I played rugby for a bit in college and loved it, but then quit that to pick up a job that I would eventually get fired from. So far, the things that I’ve put the most time, energy and effort into have been my freelance writing career and travel – two things that may be on the chopping block this fall because I got a “job”.

I put job in quotation marks because freelancing for four years taught me that there are jobs and there is a “job”. I’m now working in communications at a non-profit in Baltimore. I signed a contract to stay on for an entire year, I have bomb-ass health insurance, and “stability”. The very things that I’d dream of in the moments when my freelance career got tough. But, I won’t lie: I’m shaking in my boots. Waking up at the same time every day and going to the office still feels strange. Right now I can’t even imagine doing this for longer than a year. And co-workers. WOW. I’m still processing being around all these people for 8 hours, 5 days a week. How have ya’ll been doing this for your whole adult lives?

My college internships were unbearable, and now that I’m back in the more formal work environment I remember exactly why I graduated and started traveling. This time around, the urge to escape isn’t as strong because I’ve effectively burned myself out freelancing, and I remember that I wanted this when the office walls start to close in on me. I remember this when I’m forced to choose between being social or resetting my energy by choosing to spend a weekend alone, recharging. At times, I do wonder if I’m making a long mistake, or if I’m actually giving myself a clean slate? Am I choosing the “easier route” by taking a “job”? How will I manage my writing career? Will my closet ever recover from all the business casual attire I’m supposed to wear? I’m being dramatic, but these are the actual thoughts that go through my head when I catch up with friends who are still freelancing. I’m half jealous of their bravery and freedom, but half exhausted listening to the stories of what it takes to sell a project, execute it and get paid.

I’m at a strange place in my life, but my learning curve is generally around three months. So, by Thanksgiving, I should be feeling better about my choice of working full time while attempting to hold on to my freelance career. Or, I’ll slowly pivot away from freelancing. Or I’ll decide that I just can’t take my “job”, and I’ll quit. The prevailing theme in my life has been anything and everything happening all at once. I’m writing this to help me sort through my own emotions about the changes I’m going through. Wish me luck, ya’ll.


Photograph by Nile Williams

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