Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When the Walls Close In

I learned something very important about myself when I began freelancing. Well, actually I kind of suspected it all along but freelancing put the exclamation point at the end.

I prefer to work alone.

For the most part, this has worked well for me. I'm not a morning person, and you just can't be that mean grumpy person in an office (unless you want everyone to hate you). We all have quirks we can't stand, and one of mine is listening to people eat or chew gum with their mouths open. The worst was the woman who sat less than 2 feet away from me and slurped her oatmeal every morning. What surprised me was how little I missed the practically mandatory office social obligations. "I don't care if you can't stand the boss; you will go to lunch for his birthday and you will kick in to the cost of paying for it." Oh and we won't even go down the road of office lunch meetings with the ever present boxes of pizza.

Working at home, alone, has increased my production ten-fold, and my stress level has dropped a million points, at least.

But I learned something else about me this summer. Even if I don't miss the office overall, I miss some of the social aspects of the job. The impromptu lunch with coworkers I'm friendly with, or with friends who work in different offices/buildings. Somebody stopping at my desk on a Friday afternoon to say, "A bunch of us are going to the Grill for happies. Wanna come?" Or someone else saying that they were having some friends over for a bbq, and I'm invited. Heck, I even miss when I'd sit out in the sunshine with a book and someone I know would stop for a chat. I still get included in these things sometimes, but that means planning and no one I know plans these things.

I didn't realize how much my world had shrunk until I was at happy hours with two girlfriends, who chatted on about their days and the things they did with others. Not quite the same to say, "I had an interview with a guy who builds luxury horse barns today!" I felt totally left behind in every day life. Heck, with my kids grown and gone, I don't even have them to shake up my daily routine anymore.

So I made an executive decision. I looked at my calendar and decided that I can spare the time to be flexible, even if it means writing at night once in a while. I can block out a few hours to get out of the office; I'll just do so on days without deadlines. So I signed up for a photography class on Tuesday mornings, and already discovered that one of my classmates is a freelance writer, as well. Maybe I'll arrange a bi-weekly lunch with friends. Or maybe I'll put in a few hours to volunteer somewhere or take another class.

How do you keep from feeling isolated as a freelancer working from home?

1 comment:

Lori said...

I talk to you guys. :)) Seriously, I network with other writers. I get out at lunch. I meet a writer friend every other week for tea. I go to the mall at lunch just to see other bodies.