Question 91 of 365: Is freelancing ever enough?

Question 91 of 365: Is freelancing ever enough?

People freelance because they want their freedom. They want to be able to come and go as they please, take an afternoon off or stay at home and hang out with their kids. Freelancing can mean almost anything too, which is really nice for anyone who thinks that they have a skill but can’t quite seem to find a title or position that suits them perfectly. It is seductive in its simplicity. With no one to answer to except to clients and no one to argue with other than yourself, freelancing really does bring much of the benefits of a job without a lot of the headaches.

But, do freelancers (and their less prestigious cousins, the consultant) ever feel like they are part of something bigger? Do they feel as though they are afforded the comradeship and passionate struggle that a daily grind can provide? Is it enough to work on something for a few days, finish it and then never see it again because you have moved on to the next project?

While this isn’t a crisis by any means, these kinds of questions make me wonder if the things that are almost universally valued in our modern society are really worth it, like flexible schedules, pay for performance, naming your own price, creative expression, the ability to travel, and a project-based, user-centered work environment.

I keep on thinking that there may be something to an older model of work, from 9 to 5 (and only during those hours). I am almost haunted by my need to speak with other individuals that I didn’t self-select to work with. The individuality I crave really can only be achieved if I am a part of something larger, because otherwise, what I am really rebelling against? Deciding to be outside of a system means that you are just one of any number of individuals who exist outside. You are the noise without much of a way to break through. Being inside of a system, you get to be the upstart individual who really wants to change things. And there is something to believing that change is possible within an existing organization that provides real satisfaction (assuming that it is accomplished at some point, I suppose).

And yet, the freelancer in all of us screams just a bit more when the ground appears to be shaking benieth us. When we have no control over our own fate, it seems a bit far fetched that we would all want to spend time within a larger entity. But we persist within because of this need for organization. It is only when we feel as though we can provide a better organizing structure for ourselves that we start to seek what is going on outside. If there is a path that can be fashioned that will provide the right kinds of boundaries for our freelancer selves, then we do have a legitimate reason to flirt with leaving the bonds of the corporate or  academic world.

Perhaps something like Pick is what people need to test the waters. Perhaps the ability to see just how simple a life without big business or public schools can be will be enough to answer these questions. But, I would ask to each and every freelancer that is now readying their portfolio for that site: “What do you miss most about working with others for a greater common goal?”

And if they can answer me, or if they have figured out a way to be a freelancer and still feel the common cause of any worker bee, then my fears will be quieted. But, until I figure out just how this is done, I will be quite happy to pursue change and ideas from the inside. All while I lick the glass and envy the beautiful spring day out there.

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