I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT DOWN TIMES ARE GOOD
Freelancing and the gig economy has created a work system we are not used to and one we were not raised for. As a child, the world has pretty much planned your journey for you up to a certain point. You grow up knowing what you want to do next after every stage. Attend primary school, move on immediately to secondary school, move on immediately to college/university, then if you are lucky go on to work. You grew up being busy, scrambling for rest with just a few weeks holiday such that before you know it, holiday is over. What we didn’t realize is that it has become addictive and life isn’t really supposed to be about sufficient work and scanty rest.
A lot of young people are into the gig world where your next client or job isn’t totally guaranteed and that creates a lot of anxiety. A friend who is a video editor recently concluded this really stressful gig that took weeks of sleepless nights and as soon as the gig was finished and she could breathe a sigh of relief, it only took one day of not doing anything before she began to worry and became anxious about not being busy. But you just finished a really stressful project, aren’t you supposed to be happy about resting? I asked her.
Unlike working a salaried job where you go to work every day and have two days of rest, freelancing and the gig economy is quite unpredictable and after a long streak of working, you might get even a longer streak of not working. I get the anxiety that comes with money and being afraid for your depleting savings but maybe we should do some more introspection.
We rationalize down times in terms of money we could be making and the things we are missing out on which is why we are anxious about them. I know you don’t know where your next gig might be coming from but what does worrying do?
If you are new to freelancing and the gig world, you probably don’t take off days when you are working, you work on weekends, work overnight just so you can meet your deadline.
Let me be the voice that tells you it is okay to enjoy the mucking about during down times. It is okay to wake up and want to eat loads of chocolate and drink wine at 8am, you can finish with that and head to the mall to do some shopping after which you go to the movies with your friends. Have you forgotten that bistro you have been meaning to visit? Yes go there and order a meal, go back home and chat on your phone with a lover until you sleep off. Then wake up the next day attending to a few emails and not having any other important thing to attend to, call that your old friend and catch up. Spend time with your siblings and their children if they have any.
Sleep into the morning snoring lightly and when you wake up, let your mind wander as you reflect on your life, work and priorities, remember the friend you promised to contact, get answers to questions you have been asking and receive ideas that will further improve your life or excite you. Just live without the pressure of work and deadlines and you’ll find that it turned out good for you, so what do you say?