Freelancer confession: sometimes I miss my cubicle
“Guys, please… can you at least try to hide that you’re applying for other jobs on company computers?”
The team lead who had lucked into the job of babysitting forty-something twenty-somethings sighed heavily while we looked at each other and snickered.
Our pharmaceutical parent company required that all their minimum-wage telemarketers hold at least a bachelor’s degree. It was 2008, right after the financial crisis, so we each had taken whatever marketing jobs would hire a college graduate with no experience.
But that didn’t mean we liked it.
Our mission was convincing doctors to attend a steak-dinner-sales-pitch for a new asthma medication. But what took up the majority of our company time was helping each other get out of there.
Back to the day our exasperated team lead begged us to focus more on the job the company was paying us for and less on finding a new job…
My coworker Colin was wearing a suit and requested the afternoon off for a “doctor’s appointment.” During our state-mandated 15-minute morning break, we mercilessly interrogated him about where his job interview was and how he had prepared.
We hated our job and loved each other.
Today, my daily life is about as far as you can get from the grey 9–5 cubicle.
- I set my own schedule
- I work on products I love and that excite me
- My office is one I designed myself and is full of art and beauty
… and I don’t have coworkers sitting across from me cheering me on.
That last part is just about the only thing I miss from the clock-punching days, but it’s a killer.
I’m lucky that my husband, KC is also a partner in my business so I have someone to talk to. But when I first started freelancing, I felt so lonely and isolated.
My family and friends didn’t understand what I do. My “coworkers” were hundreds or thousands of miles away. There was no one to share the ups and downs with.
As freelancers, we have so much to enjoy — our freedoms, a decent living, and complete control over our time and location.
And that’s so great. But it also can mask the dark side of our careers — the anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. And for me, when I start to think about those things, I add guilt to the pile. I know I have a better lifestyle than most. I think about that girl in the cubicle and think, “what do I have to complain about?”
That delicious cocktail of anxiety, isolation, and guilt can lead to some really harsh mental and emotional states for freelancers.
And we don’t talk about it. Firstly, because who is there to talk to? Secondly, because we wonder if we’re just being sensitive or whiney.
That’s why this week, I want to open up the conversation around mental health for freelancers.
Tomorrow, I’m hosting a free workshop on Mental Health for Freelancers. I’m bringing on Ward Halverson to lead the discussion.
Ward Halverson is a licensed, practicing child and family therapist based in Herkimer, New York. He uses a strength-based approach to most everything, which includes a lot of humor and down-to-earth practical ideas that have been tested, successfully, again and again with families he has helped.
This is an opportunity to bring to light some of the struggles we all face, remove the stigma, and ask questions about how to deal with common issues.
There’s no pressure to speak on the call. For those of us that are comfortable sharing, Ward will take specific questions.
For that reason, the recording will only be available inside the members area of the Freelance Co-op and not publically available.