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April 04, 2019

The Quiet Side of Self-Employment

Photo: Silvana Marshall Photography
When I became a freelancer a year and a half ago, some people gave me advice on keeping track of my finances, charting out my earnings, charging tax and taking jobs I could handle. Business books spoke a lot about having a business plan, taking courses, charging enough money for your work.

Very few people and books mention the mind: the confusion, the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the stress. It's more than money. It's identity, it's confidence, it's self-worth. And it can be lonely.

If you work at home, but still report to an employer, you maintain contact with colleagues. If you're self-employed, though, you report to yourself. And if you're self-employed at home, there's no one even to bounce ideas off. There isn't the usual lunchtime chat or banter before you start your day. And if you're a social person, like me, the quiet is sometimes deafening.

One of the things I miss most about working in an office environment is the time I spent with my colleagues. We helped each other both personally and professionally and developed great friendships that way. Today, I often schedule coffee meetings and outings simply to see people. Otherwise, I'm looking into a screen all day.

The other day, I reached out to a friend and asked if she wanted to have lunch. She asked if I was alright, which I am, but I missed the company. So I was honest and said just that. So, we scheduled to meet a few days later.

So if you're newly self-employed, or a freelancer, or have your own business, remember to take the time to nurture your friendships and relationships with your network. These are your colleagues, and while you can't see them every day, it still feels great to connect with someone and chat -- about work, home, ideas, anything.

As I head into the second quarter of 2019, I'm going to try and do more of this: renew friendships, collaborate and make time.

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