This week I am attending #FreelanceHeroesDay and I couldn’t be more excited about meeting the people I spend all week talking to online…(and also terrified about meeting these people and having to talk to them in person!).
For anyone that doesn’t know about Freelance Heroes, it’s an organisation set up by the amazing Ed Goodman and Annie Browne to bring together freelancers from across the UK. It currently boasts over 6,000 members, and is a huge source of support for people like me, who decided to go it alone.
As part of its annual event, Freelance Heroes Day, attendees have been asked to create and share a piece of content about what being freelance means to them. So here’s mine:
Being freelance means…
…I don’t have to work in an office
Sounds stupid, but for me it’s really important.
I’m an introvert, painfully shy and I’ve suffered with anxiety since I was a child. I’ve never had lots of friends, because meeting new people stresses me out and makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry. And the idea of making small talk with colleagues while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil brings me out in a cold sweat. I love the sound of silence, and I’ve always been happy in my own company.
Being a freelancer gives me the space to breathe and work in an environment where I feel most relaxed and creative.
…I can realise my dream
Some people want fame and celebrity status. Others want to amass a great fortune. I’ve just* wanted to be my own boss, in charge of my own destiny, and free to make my own decisions.
Studying my way through college and university I worked my backside off to get qualified and give myself the best chance of success. And it’s this lifelong love of learning that compels me to keep attending courses to keep my skills fresh.
I’ve then made strategic career decisions that would help me gain the experience I needed, so that one day I would have the confidence and ability to set up and run my own business.
Way back then, I didn’t know exactly what being my own boss would look like. But becoming a freelancer five years’ ago, I finally realised that dream and now wear the ‘freelance’ name as a badge of honour.
* I say ‘just’…the truth is that I have a second big ambition, but it involves replacing my legs with a fin and transforming into a Disney Princess – still working on it!
…I’m a better mummy
One of the biggest draws to being a freelancer was the flexibility it gave me to spend time with my new son, while continuing with a work that I adore.
When I first became pregnant, everyone (even random people on the street) kept going on about how they wished they had spent more time with their kids…
I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be stood here in 20 years’ time saying, “I wish I’d spent more time with my boys.”
Being a freelancer means I can be here right now, present in my boys’ lives:
I’m there to drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.
I’ll be there for parent’s evening, and sports day.
I’m there to celebrate the highs, and hold them tight during the lows.
Being a freelancer means I can be present for every moment, so in 20 years’ time I’m stood saying, “I was there.”
And beyond this…
All my clients know how important being a mummy is to me, and support me in achieving that work-life balance:
I’ve had evening briefings scheduled.
I’ve done weekly meetings online when they boys have been poorly (one of those even involved me changing a nappy live on camera to a room of four senior managers!).
When I had to drop everything because Jacob was in hospital, I arrived home to a huge bouquet of flowers.
And the boys usually get all manner of treats and presents at Christmas.
Plus, they’ve joined me on client site for meetings, and been there when I’ve met clients for a coffee catch-up.
As well as making my life a lot easier, I love being a freelancer because it opens my boys’ eyes up to the wider world of work. They can see what it’s like to have a job like mine – the effort that’s required, and the rewards it gives you. And I like to think it will open more options up to them in the future because they’ve had exposure to so many different types of organisations.
Ok, so there’s really two parts to this exercise – the first is to share what being a freelancer means to you, the second is to make a pledge.
I actually made a pledge back in January, when I promised to get more involved in the freelance community:
However, I think it would be a bit of a cop out to claim this as my Freelance Heroes Day pledge. So instead, I’m pledging something new…
I, Alice Hollis, being of sound mind and body, pledge to perform a random act of kindness every month for a fellow freelance hero.
This random act could be anything – from sending a book, to re-writing web copy, or even showering someone in a delightful biscuit assortment (although no custard creams – they’re just wrong!).
And I’m thinking this Thursday will be the perfect opportunity to perform random act #1…