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How ‘Freeing’ is Freelancing?

I spent 8 hours making up boxes today. Not even packing boxes, but making up hundreds of brown 5×6 cardboard boxes.

This is the glamorous reality of being a writer slash actress slash yoga teacher slash life coach slash travel blogger.

Yet this is my choice. I chose to ride the freelance rollercoaster over a consistent and comfortable career. It’s random, unpredictable, and incredibly hard work. So why do I do what I do? Certainly not for the money, security, or acclaim, as these are infrequent rarities hugely reliant on luck and timing. So why then? For the freedom this bohemian lifestyle provides?

Freedom makes freelancing particularly attractive because you can do precisely as you please with no one to answer to. You are not tied down to typical hours, holiday restrictions, and rules. So if you want to watch ‘This Morning’ in your pyjamas on a Tuesday morning, you can. You don’t have to call in sick or pretend your Grandma’s been rushed into hospital. You can simply laze about like it’s a weekend, without a worry in the world.

This is the glamorous reality of being a writer slash actress slash yoga teacher slash life coach slash travel blogger.

But that’s not entirely true.

Most people take a sick day and still get paid. The same applies when taking holiday. If I do either I am without a wage. So whilst it might seem as if I can do what I want when I want, the reality is that I can’t afford to be lazy with my time. As I am outside the conventional system of employee and employer, I have to self-manage my own work ethic. I have to be the big boss for the ‘Katie Lambert Corporation’, looking after employee wellbeing and company income. The latter surely takes some of the fun out of freelancing, as it forces you to acknowledge that your unpublished novel won’t pay your rent. Regardless of how good it is.

Capitalism really does crush creativity.

So on weeks when my creative endeavours don’t make enough money (which is more often than not!), I have to supplement my income with temporary work. This varies from answering phones at a fancy hedge fund to packing (or making) boxes on a factory line. I am working solely to fund my freelance passions, an assertion which provides me with enough purpose to push through these dull and monotonous days. Whilst I am free from a fixed schedule, I am controlled by a need to make money; a deep-set survival instinct which knows that I can’t exchange yoga classes for food shopping. With that said, I have on numerous occasions traded my time and skills for experiences (such as my Yoga Teacher Training Qualification, which I acquired in exchange for a blog series on my website). Yet, these rare moments of progress are overrun by a ‘money makes the world go round’ mentality. It is this money mindset which frequently undermines the freelancer’s freedom.

So whilst it might seem as if I can do what I want when I want, the reality is that I can’t afford to be lazy with my time.

Unless you are financially blessed, freelancing doesn’t automatically equate to a greater sense of freedom.

Still, in spite of its discouraging ‘side effects’, I’ve never given up on freelancing. Perhaps it suits my big-dreamer personality and my bold attitude towards life because, in many ways, I thrive off the rollercoaster ride: I live for the highs and laugh at the lows, failure and rejection only seeming to spur me on more! (It also helps that I’m at a stage in my life where I am unbound by a lot of real-world responsibilities, e.g. kids!) Regardless, I think the real appeal is in the knowledge that I am dedicating my life to doing the things I love doing most. No one – unless they are incredibly stupid – chooses a creative career for money.

Besides, a career is simply ‘an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.’ As a verb it means ‘to move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.’ So until it stops serving me I’m going to keep ‘careering’ on with my freelance work… and see where I end up next!

Written by:

Katie is a writer, yoga teacher, life coach (and sometimes stand-up comedian) based in London. She is the author of whereshegoes.co.uk, a travel blog with a focus on yoga and lifestyle. She recently returned from the Himalayas, where she was reviewing a yoga teacher training course and, in November, she's off to Cambodia to review Vagabond Temple's yoga and meditation retreat.

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