Working for myself as a freelancer has brought me freedom in more ways than I ever would have thought.
Every freelancers says that, but it’s one of those things people say because it’s true. That’s the nature of work, right? Change your job, change your life. We all live by that principle…from parents who leave full-time employment to take care of their children to executives who’ll move across the planet for a new position, to shifting your hours back a bit to avoid traffic, or asking for a raise so your rent payment isn’t quite as tight…your life is highly dictated by your work.
That’s why I wanted to make this list…for you, and for me. I’m in my second year freelancing (my first consulting), and it’s important to get these things out in the open for people to read. At the end, I’d love to hear what you want to change, or have changed by taking a chance at changing your work life.
My health isn’t a chore.
I lost 30 lbs in my first year as a freelancer and I never felt like I was straining to “be healthy”.
I’ll never be the person to spend 3 hours of my day prepping and commuting to a gym (I feel I can make much better use of my time), so 10 min visits with resistance bands, a jump rope, a yoga mat and a stability ball are welcome highlights of my days now.
I know my feelings.
The challenge of freelancing has forced me to get in much deeper touch with my emotional self…a self I fought to ignore when I loathed 50hrs a week of my existence. I did that to survive emotionally, but it was a drain on my humanity.
I can cook and enjoy food.
I love food…not eating…food. Taste is a beautiful sense and I love exploring it. Unfortunately, working a stressful job corrupted my relationship with food and eating—rushed mornings, stressed afternoons, and food-centric work environments will do that.
Now I can explore food at my leisure and relate to food as enjoyment and fuel as opposed to a salve and coping mechanism. Kitchenista is my freelance food hero.
I feel freer to be Black.
Let’s be real here…Offices are White.
Most offices in the U.S. are dominated by White culture regardless of actual demographics. From the coffees, to the English spoken, to the happy hours to the weekend comparisons…offices, even (or especially) the alternative models you’ll see in startup culture are very White spaces.
By their nature they encourage conformity and not being there means I have 40hrs a week to live in my own culture and control my exposure to, and conformity to, White culture.
I can watch TV.
TV watching isn’t a good habit, but I haven’t been able to just sit and watch a show in 10 years. That’s a decade…a whole decade. Part of that is my distaste for reality TV and having been left hanging by one show too many, but another part is the inability to relax from work-related stress. I’m just now getting to the point where I can genuinely enjoy media again.
I can get back to studying Chinese.
This is huge to me because I love the language and culture and I miss connecting with local events and friends…even feeling the freedom to return to visit the country.
Mandarin is hard though, and it takes time and will—will I used to spend combating abuse and microagressions at work.
I’ve forgotten the meaning of TGIF. I’m thankful for every day in a literal sense, and not the glad-I’m-not-dead sense. I no longer wish away 57 percent of my life.
I can seriously consider being in a romantic relationship again.
I have a friend who was my good buddy in relationship, job, and introvert woes. She’s a tall, willowy, acerbic redhead who had a work and dating life that paralleled mine. Like me, she’d been mulling over quitting her job for years (I was laid off though, so the choice was easy) and was finally being pushed to the edge.
A few months ago, we went to an Alton Brown show and afterward, sat and talked about the devastation you experience as a human working a toxic job for years on end. I shared one of my deepest realizations, which was that wasn’t fit to be in a romantic relationship while stuck in my normalized job. My platonic and familial relationships had survived, but that’s largely because they were established before I signed up to have my humanity drained on a daily basis.
People talk a lot of women choosing career over relationships or vice versa. I don’t think that’s a valid topic, nor do I think it’s a subject only women should address. Humans of all genders suffer at the hands of the modern work environment and relationships of all kinds fall victim—It’s just the young ones that fall the hardest.
I don’t get depressed on Sunday evenings. If you know this feeling, you know why it’s a big deal.
I don’t stay up until 2AM avoiding sleep because sleep means the next day comes faster. I still marvel every time 11:00 comes and I’m content and happy to go to bed (that’s largely because I keep my marketing limited to certain times, and write my to-do list before I end my work day). I’m also shocked…and admittedly a little concerned, when I wake up without worry. I’ve spent a decade conditioned to be stressed over work (I won’t even touch on school). That’s not an easy thing to shake.
With the work environment becoming less reliable, and people having to take more turns navigating a very human and racialized interview process, I believe that all people in all fields, minorities especially, should try working for themselves as freelancers. The people who try are the people this site is dedicated to, and if you want to keep up with what we’re doing, sign up for our news and alerts to the right.