The text bellow was written in the beginning of November. I kept it as a draft, and today, revisited, read it again. I don't remember why I didn't publish it then. This time is behind me now, and I am much better and much stronger. Here it goes, hope it helps you in any way.
Some years back, a friend said to me: “If you're afraid of writing it, you should write it.” I call it “Marco's Rule 1”. This is it.
On an occasion last year, another friend advised me to write a letter to myself. And I did. Took pen to paper, and wrote it on one of my black hipster notebooks. Four or five pages later, 12 months after, I can't remember which notebook it was. The letter was a reflection of the fears and pressures I was feeling and the message was clear. Don't give up.
Understanding yourself is a key to writing one of these letters and make it good. In all honesty, I did not. And still have trouble understanding myself sometimes.
Meanwhile, between talks with these two friends, I was focusing on my career. On making ends meet and being available to help my close family.
At peak times I felt invincible. Juggling the day job, grabbing freelance projects and delivering always on time and with the best quality possible. This went on with friends back and forth thinking I was a workaholic or that I simply couldn't keep quiet and relaxed. Maybe sometimes.
Yet there was much more to it. You see, through a series of events, some good and some bad, the status quo wasn't rose gold. Focusing on work and quality of life and trusting promises of salary adjustments in the future, only meant I depleted the little savings I had in hopes for something better.
In the middle of this, I felt alone. And I have been alone for so long that I don't even register it as feeling lonely.
For reasons that are not relevant right now, all my life I had to fend for myself. Specially as an adult, I have always felt the need to strive for bigger and better. Not because it was fun, but because of a survival instinct.
Recently, that weight was lifted. Today I don't have to worry about making ends meet, about summing up future expenses and praying for another freelance gig to come along.
Don't get me wrong, I know I could have lived a more frugal life style, and made a much tighter budget. I could have become a Shaolin monk. But with a liquid salary that didn't break the 3 digits mark, I know I was not living beyond my means.
And now, at least for the foreseeable future, I'm going to be ok. I won't starve, won't have to borrow money from friends, will be able to support my family a bit more.
And now, I feel empty.
I finally had time to stop, breathe in. Finally relaxed and stopped to unwind without these things pressuring me and keeping the back of my head pondering strategy, client business, income sources and taxes.
I turned my head to the path behind me and, to be honest, I saw the dark place I was in. Worse, I see now that the marketing and digital communication industry here in Lisbon is cornered by low budgets, demanding brands and, sometimes, low quality professionals from the client side.
Agencies are not exempt. I know quite a few that underpay and over promise. And I know plenty of people in the business that are akin to wild mallards or peacocks strutting their feathers with plenty of flair and no delivery.
Ask anyone in Lisbon, working in digital marketing and I am sure they will agree with most of what I wrote.