The work of a freelancer is exciting and dynamic; you don’t know what the day is going to look like, and, most of the time, you don’t know what the weekly or monthly paycheck is going to look like, either (though this can certainly not be exciting.
I feel fortunate to experience the best of both worlds. On the one hand, I still work a traditional 9-5, full-time job with benefits and plenty of social interaction to exhaust me by the end of the day. On the other hand, I hustle on the side via freelance writing and blogging, where I get to cultivate one of my favorite passions while also recharging my emotional batteries.
Connectivity In an Online World
With that said, even for an introvert like myself, the freelancing world can get lonely! Every time I’m tempted to take the leap and dive in to to the thought of becoming my own boss completely, I spend a day or so doing the work for a few hours- and I find myself going stir-crazy.
Furthermore, even though I identify on the introversion spectrum, it's really important that I stay open to the remarkable benefits that come with human interaction and communication.
So, what works?
Workspaces help! And, nowadays, with impressive workspace programs like Slack and its competitors, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to like-minded peers. In fact, sometimes these programs fill in the gaps where the human connection cannot: I’m able to talk to anyone around the world instantaneously.
And, as we all know, freelancing isn’t usually a location-based phenomenon. I work with clients and colleagues in multiple countries: I would never be able to interact with them the way I do if we didn’t have this fantastic technology available to us.
In addition to workspaces, forums like Quora and Reddit provide excellent interactive tools for connecting with like-minded individuals. While these platforms attract a diverse pool of people, it isn't challenging to find those who have similar backgrounds and interests.
Face-To-Face Still Matters
I think it must be noted that freelancers (even the very introverted ones) still do need to carve out time for social skills and face-to-face communication. In fact, my friends at work (the full-time job) represent one of the major reasons why I love what I do. Laughing and bonding (and yes, venting) with them provides a connectivity that isn’t always as translatable online. They know me, and I know them, and there is a mutual sense of emotional intimacy within our relationships.
The world isn’t kind to introverts- by now, most of us know that, and we resent it as well. Employers want us to be more vocal. Friends want us to have more energy. Society, by and large, wants us to be bold, loud, and hyper- with #squadgoals. For some of us, however, this feels more like an awful nightmare than a goal worth fighting and achieving.
I think that’s it all about finding that balance and sweet spot for social interaction. I know that I can fake extroversion and outgoing energy very well. I can engage in conversation with seemingly anyone because I know how to listen to people, and I know how to ask engaging questions. With that said, my real friends and loved ones know that I need to step back and recharge often. It’s not a personal thing- it’s not vindictive- it’s how I take care of myself and, ultimately, become a better friend to everyone involved.