So, You’re A Freelancer And You “Work” From Home

You know, there are times it seems the Universe just LOVES to put people in my path to push my Bitch Button. I really try to refrain from unleashing the Kracken, for the most part, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Sometimes, there is the straw breaking the camel’s back.

This is a real camel. I'm talking about a figurative camel. I wouldn't want to break one of the real ones, that would be cruel.

Yesterday, someone I know (let’s call him “Mr. Camel”, shall we?) engaged me in conversation and said, “Oh, you’re a freelancer? And you work from home? Aren’t you lucky. I wish I could work from home. It must be nice to do anything you want anytime you want and make big bucks without having to work a ton of hours. What a life.”

Okay, Mr. Camel. You obviously have no clue whatsoever about self-employment, working from home, and you probably don’t know “Firefly” is the greatest television show canceled before its time.

This would be one of the many reasons. Yes, Nathan and I broke up but I'm still in love with Captain Mal.

I’m not going to get in to a whole argument of how you have it so much better than I do, or how I have it so much better than you. But let me clue you in on a little secret, Mr. Camel. You’re right. I am lucky. I’m lucky I get to perform a job I’m not only good at, I’m lucky because I have a job I absolutely adore. I don’t think you’re as jealous of the fact I am my own boss as you are the fact you aren’t as lucky and quite possibly hate your job with the passion of a thousand suns.

I know. It's pretty damned hot in that there cubicle, and it feels like hell. Been there, done that.

I understand your frustration. I was once a cubicle monkey, among other things, and it’s not fun. Unless you are very fortunate, it’s quite possibly Hades on Earth. There’s nothing worse than working a job you can’t stand eight hours a day, with weekends off, medical coverage, and paid vacations. It sucks that when you leave the office, you leave the work behind and carry on with normal activities. It’s difficult, I know, to be able to call in sick and know your shift is covered and all you need to concentrate on is getting better.

But when you’re a freelancer, you’re on your own, bub. As in, you NEVER leave the office and there’s no one to pick up your slack but yourself. You work when you’re sick, when you’re bored, when family members are sick and bored. You work even when you’re not working, because there are a hundred and one details which need to be taken care of running a business and there’s only you. When you’re not working, you’re looking for work, because while some months are flush, others you’re dodging disconnect notices because that’s just how it is. You’re always trying to think five steps ahead, even at 1 o’clock in the morning and you’ve just gotten to bed and supposed to be sleeping, having completed one deadline when you have to get up at 5AM because there’s another deadline to meet.

And that’s not to mention I have the same daily chores to complete that you do. Like laundry, or dishes, or shopping, or paying bills. I still have to scoop out the cat box, clean out the refrigerator, mop and vacuum floors. Worry about my kids. Carve out even a tiny bit of time for some kind of social life so I don’t turn into that crazy lady with the insane cat who never leaves her house and can’t talk to humans. I, too, have to deal with people knocking on my door wanting to save my soul. (I usually use a voodoo doll. What do you use?)

Not that there aren’t any perks, because there certainly are. But you know what? I’d trade working in pajamas for medical coverage; I might even consider trading in eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at my desk for a total weekend off with no worries and no deadlines and a regular infusion of cash into my bank account. But then again, probably not. Why? Because I love what I do and I know the deal.

What you don’t realize, Mr. Camel, is I have EARNED my job position. I have paid my dues. I have worked hard, and so has every successful freelancer I’ve ever met, to build something from the ground up, using all those years of being a cubicle monkey, burger-flipper, ass-wiper, etc. to learn as much as I could in order to apply it to my job today. This wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter — I EARNED IT, and so has every other freelancer. And I can guarantee you I put in more hours in the course of a week than you probably do in a month. (Okay, my math might be a little off, but you get the point.)

These are silver platters. I don't have one. And frankly, I don't want one. They're high maintenance.

It takes a lot of guts to work as a freelancer, Mr. Camel. It’s scary. There is no safety net. It also takes a lot of self-discipline, passion, and sweat. Sometimes blood is involved, and most definitely tears. And I don’t think you realize the perks you seem to covet are not the perks which make it all worth it. Perks like producing a stellar product all on your own; perks like satisfied clients with whom you forge amazing relationships. Yes, I can take twenty minutes and indulge my obsession with Words With Friends (but don’t pretend you don’t do the same thing in your little cubicle, I’ve seen you, and QAT is not a real word!) and that certainly is a perk, but for the most part, you are absolutely 100% correct about one thing….

I am lucky. I love my job. And that, my friend, is the best perk of all.

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6 thoughts on “So, You’re A Freelancer And You “Work” From Home

  1. Word! The Mr. Camels of this world tend to think the grass is always greener on the freelance side.

    There are those in my world who drip envy whenever I talk about a particularly good client or a published story. The piece they are missing is how much one has to sacrifice in order to score that client or publication. Sometimes the triumphs are few and far between. There’s a lot of desert and not much oasis in freelancing.

    The thing is, it’s all about choices. I don’t complain too hard about what I have to do to score a cool gig, because those scores are just awesome. Just as Mr. Camel shouldn’t complain about the boring parts of his job because the stability is also awesome. He chose it; he should suck it up.

    • And THANK YOU. Exactly. Is my job difficult? Sometimes. There are times I have to vent just like anyone else, but I chose this, I own this, and I love this. But there seems to be this myth about freelancing being easy — okay then, if it’s so easy, Mr. Camel, why aren’t you doing it? Hmmm?

      Here’s wishing you more oasis than desert :) Thanks for popping by!

  2. I thinking working for yourself is the hardest job out there. Kudo’s to you for making a go of it; although I’d love to be my own boss I know I don’t have a hope in hell of making the rent that way. People who think free-lancing is easy are unlikely to make a living at it simply because they think it’s easy – but unless you are prepared to be the hardest boss you know, you are likely to end up broke, struggling, and wondering what the hell went wrong.

    • It’s true, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to juggle, and it’s not meant for everyone. But you really have nailed it when you say you have to be the hardest boss you know. Some people don’t understand that. I know my boss is the biggest bitch I’ve ever worked for :) Thanks for commenting!

  3. I luv luv luv you! I knew I felt a Netta Rant (TM) coming on, and you were actually kinder to Mr. Camel than I thought you’d be.

    It makes me crazy when people have NO CLUE about your life and make stupid comments like “Aren’t you LUCKY —-,” as if you were sitting there doing nothing and good fortune fell on you from the sky! Like you said, you’ve paid your dues. Your “luck” was not of someone else’s making – it was of YOUR making. YOU made your good fortune – but you also know there are consequences to choices.

    Like you, I refuse to be an apologist to those who look at me and think my life is SO wonderful. It IS in many ways, but there are down sides, only people don’t want to know that, do they? Some just want to put you down, or be envious because it makes them feel better about why they haven’t had this great LUCK bestowed upon them.

    Bah! People make me nuts sometimes. Thank god for you,

    xoxox
    eden

    • Oh Eden, I love you too! And yes, I was gentler with Mr. Camel than I could have been, only because you can’t argue with stupid. No matter what I say, he has this glamorized version of freelancing in his head and I didn’t want to cross into complaint territory. Because I CHOSE this and I love it, so I take the bad with the good, like an adult.

      You’re absolutely right about the fact freelancers WORK. Is there an element of luck involved? Maybe, but it’s WORK that gets you where you’re going. There is no Magic Freelance Fairy, at least I haven’t met one.

      Yeah, people do make me nuts, too. Thankfully, most of the people I know do get it, and the others…well, I sometimes wonder how they get through life without hurting themselves.

      xoxoxoxoxo!

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