The Self-Employed Struggle
Working for yourself is an extremely romantic idea. It's all about taking the leap, chasing your dreams, and building a life you love, isn't it? At the heart of it, this is absolutely the sunny side of being self-employed. But not every day ends up feeling this way.
The Self-employed illusion
I've been working for myself for just about 10 months now. At first the freedom was all but intoxicating. I mean, I get to work from home, I can wear whatever I want (most often yoga pants), and there's no onslaught of annoying meetings to keep me from doing the work I love. Amazing, right? At first it absolutely was.
After a while, however, it gets old. When the novelty wears off, working for yourself can get pretty lonely. I started feeling sloppy, anxious, and absolutely starved for company. It felt like I had to wait forever for my husband to get home, and yet I simultaneously felt like I was behind on everything and never had enough time. Couple that with not knowing where your next project is coming from, and you've got one stressed out mess of a girl.
Solving the Struggle
As you can probably tell, the struggle has been extremely real for me recently. I'm a firm believer in being very open about this journey (even the not-so pretty parts), so last week I took to Twitter and Instagram to talk about it. After sharing my own challenges, I was amazed at the overwhelming response I received.
Some days you really just don't feel “in it” but I'm finding that looking the part is a great start to feeling it. ✨— Melissa Yeager (@melissayeags) October 21, 2016
All this to say that if you're not feeling it today, you're not alone. But get dressed, smile, and give today the chance to be a great day.— Melissa Yeager (@melissayeags) October 21, 2016
As it turns out, so many freelancers and business owners share my dilemma. Better yet, many of them began sharing their own amazing stories, encouragement, and their answers to the solopreneur struggle. I wouldn't dream of keeping this wisdom to myself, so without further ado, I'm excited to share our answers with you!
1. Dress Up
Last Friday in particular, I really wasn't feeling it. So after letting the pup out and eating breakfast, I decided to trade in my yoga pants and messy bun for some real people clothes. I curled my hair, put on some makeup, and donned an outfit that I'd actually be happy to be seen in. Getting dressed sounds like a stupidly simple solution, but trust me. This one did a world of good for me that day.
2. Get Out
When the lonely reality of working from home every day starts to take its toll, getting out of the house can work wonders. Even if it's just to run some errands, go to a yoga class (my personal favorite), or swing by the grocery store, some fresh air and even the smallest interactions along the way make a big difference.
3. Work from Somewhere New
Admittedly, I haven't tried this one enough myself, but I've gotten a ton of recommendations to ditch the home office for the day (or even a few hours) and work somewhere else. This could be a café, your favorite coffee shop, or a local coworking space. The important thing is that you're getting a change of scenery and that you'll be around other people. Both of these can do us a world of good while giving us a fresh take on our work as well.
When the novelty wears off, working for yourself can get pretty lonely.
4. Find Some Happy
Even when I'm feeling anxious or down in the dumps, I can give my mood a boost by finding something to be happy about. Whether it's a video of bunnies in wine glasses (you're welcome), sending a nice note to a friend I haven't spoken to in a while, or taking a minute to count my blessings, these glimmers of happy can turn your day right around.
Our culture has us living in a whirlwind of busyness and there are so many gorgeous moments we glaze over because we think we don't have time for them. Just take a second. Look out your window and admire the sky. Brew yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea. You can even just start smiling. Just that action will have those happy vibes marinating in no time.
5. Make Plans
I find I get especially down when I feel really isolated and haven't seen friends in a while. Sure, we're all busy, but someone has to put those quality time feelers out! Reach out to your friends. Schedule dinner or a day out together.
This party doesn't have to be reserved for personal relationships. Reach out to some local freelance or business owner friends and grab coffee with them. You won't even feel guilty taking time out of your work day for meetings like this. Just making the plans will give you something to look forward to, and the face-to-face time itself will banish those business owner blues.
6. Be Open
One final way I've found to soothe that self-employed ache is just to talk about it. Keeping it all bottled up will only drive you nuts. Be open and vulnerable about how you're feeling, and you'll be amazed at what others will share.
Life can be such an awful rat race where we one-up each other and fight for who “hustles” the most. It doesn't have to be that way. It just takes one person to admit their struggle, and more will follow your lead to share their own. Life is hard enough—we shouldn't insist on going it alone. We can weather the gloomy days together and accomplish so much more together.
7. You're Not Alone
Each of these cures is amazing in its own right, but do you want to know what has made the biggest difference for me? The single thing that has helped me most is knowing I'm not alone. I thought I was doing this whole self-employed thing wrong, but I wasn't. I'm figuring it out day by day, just like everyone else. And knowing that is the magic that got me excited to come back to work this week.
You're not alone, friend. You're doing the best you can, and that is an amazing thing. Keep going. Keep showing up and sharing your journey fearlessly. You never know how many people you're inspiring by doing just that. Remember. You're never alone.
What are your favorite remedies to the self-employed struggle? What works best for you? Let me know in the comments below!
Endless thanks and hugs to all those that have reached out to in encouragement, love, and to share your own struggle with me. I couldn't have written this post without you amazing people and I'm so grateful to be on the same journey together. 💖