Didn't last too long. It was the last Monday in April, a real gloomy day. Everything was grey and white when I walked out of my last "9-5 job". There was no going back. I felt nothing. It never hit me until a few days later: I'm fully self-employed now. My "real job" is gone. And it was time to pursue my "dream job": a full-time writer.
I learned so much more about myself more than I did with the business of writing because it was painful yet so enlightening. Maybe it was because I was already writing a lucrative project on sports, something I enjoyed or because I had been so emotionally spent from my job that I actually enjoyed being self-employed for the first few weeks.
I could wake up any time I want and do whatever I want, provided I submit my projects on time. I became my own boss. It became about self-discipline, prioritizing goals, and learning to switch between being an employee and an employer. And it was a 24-7 thing not a 9-5 thing.
Leaving the 9-5 and the physical restrictions it came with also meant you left all those small box concepts you took for granted: fixed working time, fixed breaks, a sense of hierarchy, structure, and other people. I started missing these real quickly and the employee versus employer aspect became much larger. I had to make more decisions and take more responsibilities because my survival, not just my job, depended on it.
I enjoyed procrastinating and multi-tasking so much that my attention span rivaled a goldfish's. Least to say, disciplining myself was already a part-time job. I had to start cutting out bad habits like watching while working or constantly looking for a snack. Going to the library or another public space was a key as it made sure I stayed to the tasks and worked as efficiently yet it also meant making a trip and spending money. It wasn't just what I could do. It became more about what I couldn't.
Job security was already suspect even with a 9-5 job but it's obviously nonexistent with freelancing. I was fortunate to land decent paying opportunities otherwise I would've needed another job immediately just to live a "paycheck to paycheck" lifestyle. The financial situation also meant cutting on expenses including food, drinks, and the gym. I shed a pound or two from the ordeal.
I got by and had so much free time. If I wanted to earn more I probably could have but it meant writing more and taking more projects not necessarily because they were interesting or important to my writing career but because they made money. And the creative process isn't exactly something you chop up, mass reproduce, and package to sell and make money. But it became about that. Just pumping out articles and making money.
But it old real quick. Plenty of the articles I did I didn't even bother sharing. Most I'm not too proud of. I found a style that just made it easy to not care so much about them and to just do them. So while I wasn't producing work that meant anything to me, I still wrote them. How opposite it is to writing a novel or making art.
About three months in, I knew I needed a part-time job. I was getting burned out with the process. Forcing myself to write, managing myself, and constantly feeling the need to budget and think about my finances. But most of all it was the solitude. Being self-employed, you'll likely be working on your own. Your contacts will be online and get in touch by email, Facebook messenger, or the rare video chat.
I missed what it was like to work in a team and to have some form of external structure. An "anchor" so to speak. I didn't want to spend too much time being in my own world because it wasn't entirely a creative process. It was far from it or if it was, it involved plenty of elements that felt banal.
So I took a part-time job back in retail as stock. A relatively low-stress job where you get to meet more people and have socialization. But best of all, I became more selective with my writing projects. The less time I had to write the more I put in for each. I don't get to use the self-employed label now and instead am just side-hustling two types of jobs.
It was a learning experience to say the least. I've also move to really cut on expenses. The less I have to think about money the more I can just focus on writing and self-development. And one day I'll be self-employed again and a digital nomad roaming parts of the world. But for now, everyday is just hustling.