If I am going to be honest, I have to say that I often fantasize about having a regular 9-5 job. Something that would have me on a regular schedule. Where I would have a routine and wear work outfits. Where I would drink coffee with work colleagues. I imagine having a desk with a few of my favourite things. I imagine having a boss to report to. I imagine work dramas and parties and all the good and bad with it all. In this fantasy, I’m not sure what my job would be. Just that it would be something more ordinary. Something that from this side of the fence would be easier than this freelance life
I have been a freelance photographer for fourteen years now. And sometimes I wonder if that sounds valuable or if it just makes me sound old. I make a living from my camera and I feel honoured that I am able to, and have been able to for so long. But at times, especially in this day and age when everyone claims to be a photographer, the struggle is real. It’s a constant hustle. It’s a constant negotiation of standing up for your worth. For the value of what you create. This is true for any creative freelancer, I truly believe. The struggle is real. The struggle of working from home alone is real. And while I do live with my husband and he is absolutely the number one best in all respects of loving and supporting me, working from home is also lonely. It’s isolating. In the busy times, your head is down as you frantically work off your growing To Do list. During these time you barely leave your house and you are likely 90% of the time wearing pyjama (or maybe that’s just me?). Not seeing friends or the sunshine. Not moving from your desk (and then you wonder why your entire body is aching).
While I believe that getting rid of my studio last December was one of the greatest things that I could do for myself to personally push myself and grow further in life, it’s that push to leave the house and that push to engage with others in real life, face-to-face, that I am missing most. Even though the community there at my studio was a pretty broken one, it was still something and I miss being a part of that something. Except that in a sense, I have replaced that something with my community at Misfitstudio, my Misfit gang. A place of movement, where I work out my body on the mat but mostly it’s a place for my mind and soul. Where I sit with myself in a room of others breathing along. Where I engage with others and where I care about them as much as they care about me. Where I can stretch it out on a mat for an hour, spend time catching up and then return home to my little oasis of an office to further work on images or whatever that day’s task may be. It’s a community that I am realising that I need in my life. And I feel this sense of community when I decide to work at a cafe for the day – at my favourite one up Roncesvalles near my home. Where I am friendly with the staff and where I may not know a single person there, yet I still feel a sense of community. We are all there, freelancing it up in our own ways, together in that room drinking coffee. It’s the energy of being around others that lifts us up and inspires us to keep going.
I know that I live a wacky life. I try to be strict in mine. I do my best to keep a regular schedule. I wake up at 8am, I am asleep by midnight. When I wake, I religiously do my morning routine before diving into the tasks for the day, before my bartender husband wakes. We live a wacky life that on most days we only share for a few hours together. On those afternoons we share a big meal, a late lunch, an early dinner, Mexican-style with the biggest meal of the day happening then. His pre-work meal before working a shift until 3am and my big meal before heading back to my computer to tackle more things. But those days are few and far between when shoots and other events interrupt the day, keep me up late at night, that leave no time for Misfit, that throw everything off. On these days I particularly dream about a regular life. A life of more routine.
Being a freelancer is not an easy life. Sure, we can take a vacation when we want and choose what hours we work or don’t. But it also means that we can never turn it off. You are the worker and the boss and you only have yourself to rely on for everything (well for the most part). I am always hustling. I am always thinking about current jobs. About future ones. About where I want to be next month, next year. About how I am going to pay my bills in two months time. About what I am really doing with my life.