One challenge I find myself trying to overcome in this freelancer’s life is constantly avoiding the urge to apply to full-time positions listed on mediabistro, craigslist, etc. Why, just today I considered two very intriguing editorial positions and I had to physically restrain myself from sending the ol’ resume. Would it hurt anything to do so? Of course not. But it would probably be a waste of good people’s time in that I have little to no desire to jump right back into the corporate world so soon—especially when I have my hands pretty full with writing gigs, projects, budding hopes, etc. On the other hand, if some position did scream out to me and seem like it could be something that could hold a candle to my last job in terms of having the perfect blend of self-fulfillment, purpose, location, and salary, well then that kind of position would be too good to pass up, would it not? Hard to say, really. I am enjoying my independence. But…
There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?
I read this pretty dated web article by a passionate lunatic a few weeks back. I’m not going to dig it out because it was repetitive bad writing that was repetitive and all other kinds of ridiculousness; in fact, it may even have been spam. With that caveat in place, I will say that the themes and thoughts within the piece were akin to: You Are Insane If You Think You Need To Work A 40+ Hour A Week Salaried Job. The amaetuer author (or super-skilled spambot) made a few amusing points about how, in an office position, you can often find yourself wasting your time and not getting the job done. The “water cooler mentality” can take over the day and before you know it, you have tailored your position to be mediocre, just as everyone else around you has done. Now of course, I’m not saying that this sluggish extreme ever penetrated my work ethic, but I can see how, in a milder sense, it could become apparent. When you are hired at a company to do a job, over time, you can unconsciously discover ways in which to do the bare minimum your job requires of you and still receive high accolades. It’s a bizarre truth in corporate America and one that should be stamped out. But who will do the stamping? It’s just business as usual and if business is good, let’s not rock the boat.
Freelancers have no room for merely rolling with the punches because if we let the “do nothings” get us down, we’ll be knocked out for the count. This is why I believe it is the freelancers who truly work the hardest for their bacon. When you don’t know where your next paycheck is going to come from, you are going to strive to excel at whatever current job you’re working on to the best of your ability. If you slack a bit at your office job, chances are probably decent that no one is going to notice. If you slack off in a freelance gig, you may not see another one. Reputation spreads wide.
But this isn’t to be a scary ordeal. It should be exciting, joyous! In the day to day cubicle malaise, you pretty much know what to expect next week, next month, or hell, maybe even next year. In the world of freelance, who’s to say where you’ll be this time next whenever. Perhaps you’ll write the first culinary review of a lunar restaurant! By the way, how was the cheese flambé? I hear it is the chef’s speciality up there on that rock.
Take this all with a grain of salt. Of course you can have a very pleasant and satisfying professional career in the corporate realm. I did it for a long time and I am never 100% sold on the fact that I’ll never do it again. I just think that, for now, I should probably focus on being this and not that. After all, I have only just begun.