For the past year, so much of my journey into freelancing has been dictated by stress, frustration and a severe lack of peace. The anxiety of losing a job, sourcing income and seeking experience overwhelmed me and I found myself desperately clinging onto any employment that would keep me flush in rent. I went through cycles of unhappiness, worry, boredom and frustration. Even in the flexible working week, I’d established for myself, I was always running out of time and I never seemed to have an organised inbox.
I felt tied down with the stress of my previous workplace and I was carrying it to each new environment with low expectations and high anxiety. I never felt relaxed or happy or even myself. I was constantly changing to be ‘better’, or ‘normal’ or ‘accepted’. I would spend my weekends constantly playing catch up on tasks that took far too long to complete and worrying about the Monday yet to come. I wasn’t at peace.
So I decided to make the leap. I quit my job and became a full-time freelancer. I still spend some time working in a lovely design studio in Nottingham, but beyond that, my time is entirely my own. I secured a large portfolio of lovely clients, I set up my website with new services and case studies and I committed myself to this new, scary life. I was a freelancer, and this was my fresh start.
I wrote out a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, from long term ones such as writing my first book, to short term ones such as publishing one article per week on Medium. I bought a Mac, some new stationery and some new furniture for my living room. I invested in my working space, making it feel modern, clean and minimalist. I cleaned up my desk, lit some candles, watered my plants and got to work.
And now, yes. I am at peace. The relief I felt leaving the office world behind is something I’ve never quite experienced before. Every day, when I wake up, I have almost no idea what I’ll be working on but I’ll know that I will choose to do it. I will be responsible for my own admin. I will be in charge of my own money. I am my own manager now and I can choose to be as kind or as cruel to myself as I need to be.
I definitely felt a positive shift after changing up my living room. As I work from home, the idea of creating a relaxing, breathable and inspirational space was really important to me. Even just picking up a couple of new sofa cushions, a lamp and IKEA floor rug made my work space feel like mine. I treated my home as my new office and customised it to suit my new flow.
As for creating a new routine, I’m still working on it. But then again, perhaps I don’t need one. I don’t need to programme myself to do the same thing every week, because I figured that as long as I’m earning enough money to stay comfortable, I can determine my own days. If I want to work 9 hours straight, burning through tasks and admin one day, and then spend 3 hours painting and reading the next day — that’s ok.
Most people hate Monday mornings. I love Monday mornings. I love the idea that I can wake up, and work on projects I love, in my own space and my own time. The quality of my work has improved so much, and strangely I’m actually saving more money now without the expense of a weekly commute to plan for.
Even my personal relationships have improved. One of my biggest concerns about working full-time freelance was the element of loneliness so many of us seem to suffer from. But I’ve actually found that people are so curious about my lifestyle that I’m running out of diary space for the coffee meetings and cosy catch-ups. My friendships have become stronger, especially with my friends who are currently going through tough times. I don’t need to book time off work to support them and be there for them. I can put them first, and work in the moments in between.
I stopped seeing my days as struggles, efforts and endurances. I see them as open books, empty calendar pages I can fill with the activities I love. I’ve found peace in this. I’m happy and that’s such an amazing achievement.
If you have any questions about my experiences as a freelancer, please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.