Fighting the lonely freelancer blues

When you freelance, it can be pretty lonely. You’re sitting at home at your desk or on your couch, or inside a coffee shop, for several hours every single day. You’re communicating via email, Slack, Teamwork, or some other app. Sometimes, you’ll jump on a phone call with a client, talk to a barista, or ask the person next to you to watch your laptop while you go to the bathroom, but that’s as far as your social interactions go until your spouse, kids, or roommate come home.

I was feeling the blues earlier this year, when I was working more than 40 hours per week and didn’t have time most days to leave the house aside from going to the gym. I got so depressed. I’d wake up around 9 a.m., my husband would already be off to work, and I’d be all alone until he got home at night. I had my dogs, thank God, but I wouldn’t really interact with other humans.

I always thought I was such an introvert until I went through this rough period. It turned out that I did need social interaction. Email and online communication weren’t going to cut it. Going on social media only made me sadder because it seemed like other people were out in the world, having fun, social experiences. I knew I had to change something.

I did one simple thing: I started messaging my friends and family on Facebook, texting them, and calling them to check in. Seeing their timelines was not enough. This was a good first step.

Then, I made sure to schedule more quality time with my husband and my friends. I resolved to go on at least one coffee date every two weeks with somebody to catch up or meet for the first time. I was reaching out to anybody I thought I could relate to personally or professionally.

I also joined a co-working space. Though I don’t talk much to the other people around me, it’s so nice to be amongst other productive people at least once a week.

I need to keep building up my social interactions because I do get down at times. But it is still such an improvement. I feel a lot happier nowadays overall.

People glamorize working at home, but it isn’t always so fun, especially because of the isolation. However, when I worked in an office full-time, I felt even more isolated sometimes. I was surrounded by hundreds of silent co-workers typing away quietly on their laptops. I had one work friend to talk to, because everyone else would be on their computer. A lot of people ate lunch at their desks. Teams existed in silos, so if no one on your team was social, you were kind of stuck. It was a lot worse than being on my own because I was trapped at the office and feeling so alone.

I’ve realized that I’m kind of a funny mix of an introvert and extrovert. I can handle one-on-one or small team interactions really well. I shine in those situations. It’s why I do coffee dates, host my own Shabbat dinners, and go to a small synagogue. When I’m at a big party, you can bet I’m finding the pet dog and sitting with him all night.

I do know that I need to be around people at least part of the time. Learning this has made my work situation so much better. Are there any “freelance hacks” you’ve discovered that have made your work situation better? Let me know in the comments.

~Kylie

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