Inspiration for Freelancers: I work, too!

On Sunday, I attended a gorgeous wedding at the beach. I can blame the setting sun for the tears that welled up as my dear friends said their vows, but I cannot deny that it was a perfect, incandescent moment. I’m a sucker for weddings–especially intimate ones with a reception at a huge vacation rental mansion and delicious food afterwards!

As we prepared to leave at 9:30 pm, the groom seemed disappointed, but conceded that everyone had to work the next day–everyone except me.

“I work, too!” I protested, but he had moved on to speak to other departing guests. His mother asked what I do.

“I work from home,” I replied.

“If you work from home, it can’t be that hard,” she said.

I then explained that I am a writer and have four books due in two months (okay, so I found out yesterday two of the books aren’t due until January, but it’s still a tight deadline). “Well, they’re children’s books,” I continued, “but I have a lot of research to do.”

I’m sure many of you fellow freelancers have found yourselves in similar situations, having to defend what you do, when you work, or how you work to friends, family, and perfect strangers. I have realized that as someone with a non-traditional job, I can’t exactly get angry at people for not understanding what I do. When I had a nine-to-five job, I imagined the freelancer’s life as, well, free.

Yes, I do have some freedom to choose the projects that I am most interested in, and I should have more time to work on the projects that I’m passionate about for myself. But as is often the case with the self-employed, we operate in a state of feast or famine, always in anxiety over or anticipation of the famine. I am fortunate enough to be in a period of feast at the moment, juggling several writing, project management, and editing projects–all of which I am genuinely interested in! However, for financial reasons, I tend to take on as many paying projects as I can when they are available. This translates to working evenings and weekends when there are looming deadlines, and putting my personal projects (and often, social life) aside to complete the projects I have committed to for my clients. I do have a reputation to uphold, and I am, if nothing else, an incurable overachiever.

So my fellow freelancers and the friends and family of freelancers, here’s my SandyInspired takeaway. And let me preface this by letting you know that my freelancer friends and mentors who have been doing this for years told me basically the same thing when I considered taking the plunge and freelancing full-time. I just didn’t fully realize the truth of it until I found myself in that somewhat awkward social situation Sunday evening. Here it is:

Working from home means you can’t leave the work and go home to relax, because your home is your workplace. It means making your own schedule, holding yourself accountable for the hours in your day, and forcing yourself to stop working at a decent hour even when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But most of all, it means acknowledging to yourself and others that the work you do at home (or anywhere else) is, indeed, work. Well, you do have the freedom to sometimes take your work to your favorite coffee shop or bookstore. So I guess those nine-to-fivers should be jealous!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pam thomson
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 09:23:02

    Well you said it in a nutshell. Most people equate freelancer as someone so well paid that they lounge around turning jobs down and put us in the category of a stay at home mom (what a joke those ladies work 24/7) anyway, I think the best defense is to make them jealous and say back to them. “Don’t be jealous, maybe one day you can have what I have!”

    Reply

    • inspiredbysandy
      Oct 12, 2011 @ 09:40:48

      Exactly! I have so much respect for stay-at-home moms and the incredible work they do raising us ingrates. Yes, most of the stuff people say that I could take offense to probably does come from a secret desire to do what I’m doing for themselves. So instead of getting angry and feeling invalidated, I’ll blog about it and educate as many people as I can! Go Artist’s Way affirmations! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Jenny Yang
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 21:53:37

    Here! Here! Sandy! 🙂 Well said. We gotta declare it and assert it to the world, and even in tiny social interactions that what we do is WORK – just work that allows us more flexibility to determine our working conditions. 🙂

    Reply

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