Cardigan: ASOS | Jeans: Frame Denim | Tee: H&M | bag: Louis Vuitton
I feel like I'm being so rubbish posting on this blog, but I swear there's a good reason for it which will be all explained in this post. No, it's nothing exciting, I'm not going anywhere fun or doing anything particularly thrilling - quite the opposite in fact - but I just wanted to discuss something which people don't seem to want to talk about... And that thing is the down side of working from home.
Now, people want you to believe that being self employed means you can live a whimsical life. You can float about your day, taking some blog photos followed by lunch, grabbing a festive red cup on the way home and unboxing your freshly bought ASOS parcel when you get there. In part, I mean, that does happen and you definitely have more freedom, but working for yourself - and at home - certainly isn't the princess life that Instagram will lead you to believe.
I've been working for myself and helping Phil with pipdig for almost two years now now. It's been a rollercoaster ride and a mixture of feeling completely in love with the freelance life and wishing you could just have a lie in every morning so your day goes quicker. Which, by the way, is what sparked me to write this article. I woke up early the other morning with the cats, I gave them their breakfast as usual and Phil suggested we just stay up and get stuff done. I refused - as it was like 6:15am - and said I wanted to go back to sleep because I didn't want to spend more hours awake in this house than I needed to. I saw nothing wrong with this, but Phil insisted that there must be an underlying issue for me to say that. Are you depressed? He asked. No. Are you happy? He asked. Yes, for the most part, but sometimes being by yourself from 10am-8pm - with only cats for company - can be very hard going.
So I wanted to talk about the less rose-tinted, swanning about London eating avo on toast side of working for yourself. It may be a fairly downbeat post, but I'm sorry, this stuff needs to be said. Starting with three realities of being alone a lot...
1. It's lonely
I can't deny that working from home - sometimes with no human interaction for the entire day - can be an extremely lonely place. Phil always wondered why I was on the phone to my sister or my mum for an hour at a time (as he doesn't have the same relationship with his family, they're more chill and mine are rather clingy) and I said that if I didn't speak to them, then sometimes I would go from 10am-8pm without uttering a word. I will admit, I am introvert and am comfortable in my own company, but it can feel rather crushingly quiet at times - especially with these dark nights.
2. Leave the house or you will go crazy
Ignoring the rather smiley photo to the left, I've found the more days at a time I stay inside, the more insane I start to go. I've been in more recently because of the kittens and I must admit, I'm glad they're settled enough for me to start leaving them for longer (I say longer, I mean like 4hrs at a time). If you work from home, please force yourself to go outside every day (in Winter especially), even if it's just taking the bins out or popping to the shops for bread.
3. You need other freelance friends
My two best friends live in London and, as much as I get to pop down and see them roughly once a month, I do really miss having them about! I do have other friends, obviously, but as you get older they do tend to thin out and everyone has their own life to get on with, which is totally natural. A lot of my friends work 9-5 so that time spent during the week without seeing anyone - especially when you've previously worked in an office and been used to seeing acquaintances every day - can really get to you. Adopt a freelance pal and you can whinge about people not paying invoices together for the sake of your own sanity.
Obviously there's so many upsides to being freelance and working from home: you can stay in your pj's all day (I wouldn't advise it though, your productivity goes right down), you can take lunch breaks whenever you want, you can come and go as you please, you can have that avo-on-toast whenever you damn well fancy and you don't have to force yourself to work in the wind and rain like everyone working 9-5. But the downside can really get you down.
I see so many bloggers (I'm not sure about this in other professions) touting the freelance life as this amazing, carefree experience while in reality it can be a very anxiety riddled, stressful and downright lonely place to be. You really do have to have the right mindset, be organised and enjoy your own company to thrive in this environment. Sugar-coating everything doesn't do anyone any favours, especially when so many girls (and guys) are aspiring to quit their jobs to live the freelance/full time blogger or vlogger life, thinking it's going to be a latte-in-Starbucks-every-day dream.
I'm not going to lie, we all have content to create. That's what it come down to, right? Content. We find the most 'Instagrammable' places to eat in or the right door to pose infront of or the perfect floor to take a FWIS pic on. We've all done it, myself included. It generates more likes - and is more enjoyable to share - than something boring or negative, that's undeniable and it's part of our jobs now. 'Aspirational content', as they say. But when does aspirational just become a bit of a lie? When does it actually just cover up the every day reality of your life? It's not all Peggy Porschen cakes and Topshop hauls and pretending otherwise is fooling no one but you. It can suck but people would rather live the fantasy and, in turn (unintentionally or not), make others feel bad that they're struggling.
Of course, so many people are a-ok with the freelance life and I have managed for the last (almost) two years with next to no issues, but I think this Winter and the darker nights have really got to me recently. I really don't want to shit on anyone's parade and if you love pretending it's a perfect existence on social media, then please keep doing what you're doing, but part of me wishes people would be more honest about these things. It's tough. Really tough, at times. Maybe a dose of realism (and more discussion of mental health) would be great for people to see, especially as blogging is already an industry that people don't always take seriously.
I think part of my personal issue comes down to space - I can't wait to get my kitchen done so I can actually have an office (see my office plans here) in the spare room. Working from the sofa - which is also where I chill on an evening - means I get very little separation from work and relaxing, so it can add to the negative side when you're basically sat in the same space for the entire day!
I don't fully know what I want to achieve in this post - I have zero idea how to wrap this up - but I had to write down my thoughts somewhere otherwise I would probably explode. I am not going to quit the freelance life as I do genuinely really enjoy it and would detest working in an office for someone else again, but it's going to take some working through to get 100% back on track with it again.
What do you do when working from home is starting to get to you?