After working full time for Dual School from February 2018 to January 2022, I was accustomed to having a full time job. I had some flexibility of working remotely and taking time off when needed, but typically I worked a 9-5 cadence.
While running a nonprofit was stressful, and there were many challenges that kept me up at night managing the people, projects and finances of an organization, I didn’t have to worry about my next paycheck. I knew that every two weeks I could get paid.
So when I transitioned out of full time employment, and starting working part time for three different projects I thought it would be easy. I was no longer accountable for the organization, and no longer supervised by a board of directors. I was my own boss! I could set my own schedule.
But the appeal quickly dwindled as I found myself working more hours than before, making less money, and having work commitments nearly every night of the week. On top of the amount of time it took to stay on top of my current work, I had the added challenge of not knowing where my next paycheck would come from.
I no longer had the steady salary and instead would wonder things like “if I say ‘no’ to this client, will I be able to get another one next month? or will I be stuck making less money?”
Managing several email accounts, Slack channels, Discord servers and social media accounts became exhausting. I was constantly switching contexts, and on top of that, my schedule was packed from morning to nights as clients all had different work cadences.
It felt like a weird problem as most of my peers have normal full-time jobs. Regular hours with clear responsibilities and compensation structure.
I’ve stepped back from many responsibilities, and I’m reflecting on what happened this spring. What went wrong?
Through conversations with friends, lots of writing, and reading, I’m starting to understand better. What happened to me is not uncommon, I just haven’t heard much about it before.
Thanks to Ray Liu for sharing this post to help me make sense of life as a freelancer over the past six months:
The Jigsaw of Independence: Putting Together an Independent Life Without Falling Apart by Tom Critchlow
I’m thinking that I might try to get a steady job again because of how challenging and disheartening the spring was. But I’m also thinking that I’ve learned a lot and grown over the past few months and might be able to try again and do it better. Who knows what’s next, but if anyone else is dealing with a similar circumstance, I’m happy to talk.