Ah, ‘tis the most taxing time of year – pun intended. I’ve always loved filing my taxes (because I always get money back, even when filing as a freelance artist), and this year I approached filing with the same enthusiasm. I had all my spreadsheets organized and ready to go and was eager to get (and invest) my refunds!
If you haven’t already inferred from the title, my taxes did not go at all as I planned.
I use TurboTax, which is a total godsend and very user friendly. Plus, the program has a fun, little money ticker on the side of the screen constantly adjusting based on your entries. It shows you in happy green numbers how much you will be refunded or it calculates in dark, angry red numbers how much you owe.
Usually the numbers start off in red before settling in the happy, green zone indicating a return. Thus, I try not to pay the numbers much mind until I get toward the end of filing. But as I approached the final pages of my entry, with red numbers still glaring prominently at me displaying a balance due of nearly $2,000…
I wish I could say I took this surprise in stride and handled it maturely, but I would be lying to you, dear reader, and I don’t want to do that.
My chest began to tighten, my stomach dropped, and I repeatedly dragged my hands down my face as one does when in a state of overwhelm. Not only did I owe, but I also incurred a penalty for not filing quarterly which I am now required to do from this point forward.
I started whining: “This sucks! Taxes are stupid! This is unbelievable! Why is this happening? I always get money back! I had plans for that return!” My eyes teared up and there was a bit of profanity finally followed by the exclamation of, “I NEED A BIG GLASS OF WINE FOR THIS.”
Once I came to terms with the fact that my lovely tax refunds betrayed me and that I lost $2,000 instead of earning money like I anticipated, I endeavored to find the positive in the situation.
Looking over my documents I noticed that from 2017 to 2018 I more than doubled my income as an actor & model. MORE. THAN. DOUBLED. That is incredible growth for a business in the span of a year! A number of my projects had me on a W2 with taxes already taken out, which is definitely a luxury in the freelance world. I also realized more than half of my income came from projects filed on 1099s, which led to the fine and balance. However, more importantly perhaps, those 1099s came from exciting projects with some new clients but many repeat clients, which is cause for celebration!
The hit to my bank account hurt. A lot. Plus, now I have research to do about filing quarterly, which is a learning curve I did not anticipate nor desire. Whining aside, this all indicates growth. Oftentimes we mistake uncomfortable and annoying obstacles for inconveniences rather than recognize them as growth. It is a simple matter of perspective. By shifting perspective to consider an obstacle in a new way, and not lashing out in a tantrum like a big baby (*cough* like me *cough*), we might become more adept at recognizing the annoyances as growth worthy of celebration.
I learned a lot of lessons from this experience, but the most important one may be this: the next time an unforeseen obstacle comes along, look at it differently. I urge you to do the same, try not to react on instinct as that frequently turns out to be a negative response, but rather alter your perspective. If you do, you may be able to see you are growing!