Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m self-employed and lonely.
I have been a ‘full time blogger’ for almost a year. I wouldn’t change that for the world. I am really lucky to be able to do what I do, but being self-employed is hard, and I think that it should be ok to talk about that. In fact, as more and more bloggers and other creatives set their hearts on quitting their jobs and ‘going full time’, I think that ~real talk~ should be absolutely encouraged.
Having nobody to tell you what to do can be incredible. It is, freeing, liberating, and it allows me to live my life exactly how I would like to. At the same time, having nobody to tell you what to do can be exhausting. Running everything yourself means that you cannot ever really work mindlessly, or on autopilot. When you do your own thing, you get out what you put in. If you’re happy and motivated and brimming with ideas and inspiration, that works fantastically well. If you’re in a creative slump, if you’re unhappy, if there are things getting in the way of being able to try, that means you don’t get paid.
Being self-employed, for me and countless others, means working from home. Working from home is lonely. I am lonely. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I am invited to press days, events, dinners, meetings, parties; I spend quite a lot of time with a lot of different people, and a lot of really great people at that. But, those engagements might only take one or two hours out of my day. I also spend a lot of time completely alone. I work well individually, I like having full control over what I’m doing, I like doing stuff by myself. But you cannot achieve the same sense of community when working from home, I don’t think, as you can in a school, university or office environment. Even if the people you see every day are people you don’t like, they’re still people.
For me, this is the most poignantly difficult problem with self-employment and working from home. It’s also one that nobody really talks about. To be a little less hypothetical –
I could have a string of three, four, five consecutive days where I am busy. I might have a press day, a party, a day of shooting, an event that leads to drinks afterwards, fitting in the actual blogging itself around that. The following week, I could have consecutive days of absolutely nothing. If my flatmate is away, if I can’t make plans with other friends (or can’t bring myself to make plans), I am completely by myself, and sometimes that really sucks.
I once wrote ‘in defence’ of doing stuff by yourself, but this is easier said than done. I live in London and that means that leaving my house almost always costs money, which is a big demotivator. More significantly, I think that there is a striking difference between ‘alone’, and ‘lonely’. I am happy to be alone, I enjoy my own company. But, when you feel lonely, your own company becomes less of a choice that you want to make.
I am not quitting, I am not giving up, but I am going to talk about the problems of self-employment, and of working from home (or a plethora of local cafés). I cannot reiterate enough how much I appreciate how lucky I am to do what I do, and that I am not stuck in a dead end job that I hate, or that doesn’t pay enough to make my rent. But, my job does come with its own set of problems. I am 22 and lonely, and trying to not be, and it’s ok to talk about that.