Behind the scenes #9 – I’ve become a freelancer
Even though you may not have watched my (Hungarian) vlog about a day in the life of an illustrator, (in which I meet clients and try on wedding rings in the middle of a Thursday) you might wonder how all this work fits into my days while also maintaining a dayjob. After all, it has never been a secret that besides my blog, illustration and graphic design I work full time. Well, this is the thing that changed a few months ago.
Why? – or some background info in a nutshell
I studied Architecture at university and after graduating I started working as a 3D engineer at a multinational company. However, it had been clear since before graduating that I would never really become an architect, and even if I start working in this field, it would only be a temporary job. The way grand companies work is actually in complete opposition with my lifestyle, but to start one’s own business one needs a bit of backup, and this job gave me the opportunity to save up the money (for which I am grateful!)
You might have big dreams and plans, but still it is very comfortable to swim around in a safe, luke-warm swamp, however it might stink. Slowly, I found myself working for this company for 1, and then 2 years, constantly putting off handing in my notice.
I’m not entirely sure when it started. Perhaps when I started my graphic design course and suddenly I had tripple the amount of work. Or during the Christmas rush… Or maybe in January, when, despite all my expectations, the number of comissions did not drop. Whatever the reason, the situation started to become oppressive: besides all these activities I could not meet the expectations of a company that forces its means and methods onto its employees, and with whose goals I did not agree. So my day job slowly ended up at the bottom of my priority list. A decision was quickly made: we would not suck each other’s blood any longer. It was a joint decision, which did not particularly help my self-confidence at the time, but in hindsight I am grateful: who knows when – if ever – I’d pluck up the courage to leave without their kick in the ass?
A (few) month(s) of anxiety
So from March on I became my own boss.
*note to self: if you ever hand in your notice without another job opening its arms to welcome you, don’t do it in February!*
Even though I’ve never regretted my decision since, March was a difficult month. It is still rather cold and dark in March around this part of the world, and my spirit, already slightly diminished by winter, felt no confidence in starting a business whatsoever. Comissions came and went but I was constantly panicking over how sustainable this lifestyle would be. Will there be a new client? Is anybody interested in what I do? I had not quite been armed for the fact that this feeling will be a constant companion, and instead of being anxious about it I’d better try to live with it.
Life these days
I would love to say that since March everything has changed, I am the living embodiment of perfect mental health and you, too, should hand in your notice as soon as you can. But things are not that rosy and cliché. I have still not got used to the fact that I only foresee my work for about a month, or that if my partner is absent for some reason, 3 days can pass in perfect silence – except for the occasional words I speak to myself in the mirror (yes, I do that sometimes.. ;). I am still anxious about taxes and insurances, which are now my own responsibility instead of my employer’s, and that I hardly ever get feedback on my work.
*note to self: if you work from home, try to arrange going out of the house at least once a day. If you can’t manage, then once in every two days. Yes, I’m an introvert, I love to be alone, but complete isolation causes anxiety.*
But I can finally say that I am 100% true to myself. I do something I believe in and I make my own time schedule. In this respect, working for a company is definitely a step back compared to university: a multinational company will (usually) treat you like you were in kindergarden: work from x o’clock until y o’clock, finish your lunch in half an hour, don’t go to pee more than 4 times a day. No, thank you. If I learned anything at all at university, it is good time management. Now I don’t have to spend 9 hours a day with people who affect me badly, and worry if I’d have enough days off during the year – obviously not, as I work day and night. But now I don’t have to ask permission and explain anything if I want to go on a day trip with my partner on a Tuesday, after we have both worked through the weekend.
*note to self: you may not take Saturdays and/or Sundays off, but it is important to give yourself a break every week!*
So what’s next?
Well, I wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to this question either. Until freelancing works, I’ll travel on this path. Once it stops working, I’ll go some other way. I am trying to accept the fact that life is a chain of constant changes so it’s no use worrying about where the next comission comes from, or whether I can remain a freelancer or have to go back to working in an office. Until I DO have enough work though, I am trying out new things and enjoying every moment of fulfilling my dreams.
Have you got any experience in this kind of lifestyle change? Have you experienced similar things in between jobs? Share them with us in the comments.