From time to time you will run into those who went before. They jumped into the Rubicon ((I appreciate that Ceasar actually crossed the Rubicon but I like to mix my metaphors. Or is it allusions?)) as it were. And when you see them they look relaxed. They’ve lost weight. They dress casually. And they say things like
“It is brilliant working for yourself”.
“It is without doubt the best decision I ever made”.
“Business is great. Actually I just finished a massive project. Taking a couple of weeks off to unwind. That’s why I’m in the pub at 2 in the afternoon. With a tan. Nursing a pint”.
Which all seems to add compelling weight to the argument that you too should jump in.
But I have to tell you that they are probably not telling the truth.
In fact they are almost certainly not telling you the truth.
Does that shock you?
That old colleagues, people you respect, people you like, people who went through the Brentford merger with you and survived, should lie to your face. It is intolerable.
I’m probably making it up.
I’m not making it up. Though on the plus side they may not be lying in the conventional sense. What is truth? as someone asked (( it was Pilate obv. Just double checking this I looked up the quote online and was struck, once again my the magnificence of the language in the King James version. Not germane to this blog, controversial or amusing but true )).
Understand them. Sympathise with them. Empathise with them.
Leaving a real-life job is, as you are about to find out, a shock in the proper sense. It is dislocating in ways that you do not expect. You miss the regular day to day contact with other human beings. You miss the shared jokes: the water-cooler moments.
You miss being told what to do.
And you miss the money.
“Money isn’t everything” turns out to be much more attractive as a philosophy when you actually have money. And when you have a reasonable expectation that there will be more money at the same time next month.
Take these things away and you find that money turns out to represent a much bigger proportion of everything than you had previously believed.
And this prompts in many people a process rather like grieving.
The freelancer, on finding that the world outside their organisation is not as perfect as they had imagined, becomes angry. Depending on their dysfunction they could become angry at themselves for walking out of their job without a proper plan or angry at others: at their evil ex-boss who held them back or at the stupidity of potential clients ((If the latter is your dysfunction, you’re going to love “Your customers are idiots” if and when I get round to writing it)).
Quickly following upon the anger is despair. How could they have been so stupid? They walked out on a regular paycheck, a pension, and a purpose. They will never get another contract. Their children will starve. They will be evicted. Their life is ruined.
Despair quickly turns to denial. Everything is fine, just fine. Dandy even. Fine and dandy ((it’s like a hard candy Christmas but that’s taking us back to despair again)). Great. Best decision I ever made.
And it’s very easy to be trapped in a vicious circle where you spiral round and round anger despair and denial.
This is the probably the state that you find your ex-colleagues in.
It is an excellent way to fail at freelancing.