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I recently had a project get canceled. This is not out of the ordinary; budgets get cut, priorities shift, and occasionally, another researcher wins the work instead (unbelievable, I know).

What was a little out of the ordinary with my recent cancellation was that the process had been dragging on for six months. In April, I gave the team a bid, had a few calls where they told me how urgent it was, made plans to shuffle around other work and bring on a team to deal with this urgency and then….crickets!

In June, they reappeared with slightly revised criteria. I re-bid. They said thanks. Then they said no thanks– the project was canceled (side note: If I was British, I would spell this “cancelled.”).

In August, the urgency returned. They asked for a contract immediately– but didn’t sign it. They scheduled a kick-off call– and then canceled it.

I went on with my life and even headed to Shanghai and Nigeria¬†for a gig earlier this month. During this trip, the Project of Many Cancellations re-appeared and I had a few late night calls with them to re-bid. They didn’t like my bid. Then they did. We scheduled a kick-off call for the day I returned to the US.

When my plane touched down, I had a “canceled” notification– no kick-off call, no explanation. I went to sleep, and woke up to a “sorry, this isn’t happening” email.

Is this frustrating? Sure. Does it impact my ability to plan my life, estimate my income, and book other freelancers? Yes, yes, yes. Do I let it bother me? Nahh. It’s disappointing not to win every single thing I bid on (especially when I bid on it five times over a six-month period), but it’s life. I don’t think the client team woke up in April and gleefully rubbed their hands together: “Hey! Let’s torture Jessica for the next six months and make her bid on this project five times!” I don’t think there was any malice. I think there were shifting priorities, shifting budgets, and a whole hierarchy of people making decisions that had nothing to do with me. And now I get to hunt for my dinner for Q4.

Back to the hustle…

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