It’s easy, when you’re buried in emails and to-do list tasks, to focus on all of the stressful parts of freelancing–running your own business, paying tax estimates, pleasing all the clients, marketingmarketingmarketing–and forget to take advantage of the amazing parts. And there are so many amazing parts.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting an increasing number of the same type of comment/question, to the point that it’s now happening on a daily basis: “Are you absolutely miserable?”
“I bet you want that kid out of there!”
“Are you hanging in there?”
Guys. I’m fine. Yes, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. I’m carrying significant evidence of that fact around with me between my hips and my ribcage. But I don’t know how to credibly explain to anyone that other than the fact that cartwheels aren’t on my agenda, I feel remarkably normal.
About a year ago, I cut my hand trying to saw a few inches off the bottom of my desk’s legs. With a bread knife. What? It was IKEA wood, not real wood. I thought it would work. It did not. Probably because it was also an IKEA bread knife. But I did get a local hardware store to trim my desk legs for me, because I was newly hung up on the idea that, as person who spends [fill in embarrassing number here] of hours a day staring at a computer, I should start thinking about ergonomics.
We are buying a house today. My freelance writer self and independent musician husband have an appointment to close at 10am, after which we will move into our adorable 1938, 4-bedroom Cape Cod with detached two-car garage and a half-acre of land.
When I quit my job, back in 2010, I was working for a board, and therefore had to go around to ten different people, all of them at least 20 years my senior, to tell them I was not only leaving my position as their director, but I was doing so to work for myself, as a writer. They were all very kind and supportive, and, I could also tell, quietly concerned. I was trading a secure, public sector job with great benefits for what appeared to be essentially a non-job – in a terrible economy. They all liked me and wanted me to succeed, but I could see that they couldn’t visualize how “freelance writer” and “success” had any potential to overlap. When my then-fiancé followed suit the next year, leaving his high school teaching job after eight years, we only seemed crazier.
Painting my nails on a Wednesday afternoon always feels a little scandalous. Never mind that the last 48 hours were an intense marathon of working from waking up through Daily Show time. Or the fact that painting my nails takes ten minutes, and I’lll go back to working when I’m done. It seems indulgent. And I feel guilty about it.
Even though freedom is the number one reason freelancers cite for choosing to work for themselves, it’s difficult to get cozy with it.
By and large, I have no complaints about working from home. I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a freelance writer, and so a home office has always been a default part of that dream. Buuuuuut, sometimes I suddenly remember something about having a “real job” that I sort of miss. Really? Even with all the pajama working and make-up not wearing and proximity to dogs? Yes, really.
I was interviewing someone for a story today who is running a local online publication in a relatively small town. His “new economy” job in a very traditional community was the angle, so I was asking him about the benefits of working from home and setting his own schedule. Of course, I could have answered this questions myself, but we weren’t interviewing me about my new economy job.
“The best thing is,” he said, “is that while sometimes I put in long days, sometimes I put in short ones. I mean seriously, if I’m still working after 1:30 on Friday, something has gone wrong.
“It’s so great to just close my computer and say, ‘I’m done.'”