Freelancing is a lifestyle. It involves a lot of personal legwork that would otherwise be done by the company you're employed with. Going solo is a challenge as you have no choice but to do all the work in order to succeed. And depending on what your goal is, that freedom can be more valuable than the money you make.
In my pursuit for more work, I've taken up additional resources in the form of creative agencies. These are companies that do the heavy lifting to find clients that are in need of my talents. When I signed up, I told them I was only interested in freelance or short-term contract work. Recently, one of the agents I work with contacted me with a job she thought I would be perfect for. She sent me the description and it was everything I was capable of doing. The catch: it was a full-time, permanent position. You know, a normal 9-5 job. She told me to look it over and take some time to think about it. But I already knew my answer was no. It's not that I couldn't do with the extra money, it was the sacrifices I would have to make for it. And I couldn't do that.
I might sound stuck-up for turning down a job that many people would be happy, if not grateful, to have. I used to have that mindset not too long ago. What changed for me was after years of being in that environment, I knew I wasn't suited for it. I did everything I was expected to do and I felt empty inside. The offices I worked in was sterile and the work itself was no better. My last full-time office job was terribly mundane. I only used a tiny fraction of my creative abilities and I wanted more. They didn't have more for me, or they had enough designers already, or they might have more in a year. I didn't want to wait for job satisfaction to come to me, so I went to it. I turned in my 30 day notice, took the plunge into full-time freelancing, and never looked back. I do miss the paychecks but money seemed less important than my happiness. It took many years for me to accept that fact about myself, but I felt free once I did.
What I wanted from my career was something I had more control of. I wanted to have the opportunity to doodle in a cafe in the middle of a weekday afternoon. I wanted to pick the projects, and the people, I worked on rather than be assigned to them. I wanted the chance to take the dog for a walk when I needed some time away. I wanted the freedom that only a freelance career could give. There may be a creative agency or company that allows their employees to bring their dogs to work and move their laptop to wherever they want. Maybe I haven't found the one for me yet. Maybe I never will. Should I spend everyday searching for the elusive dream job? Who says that happiness only comes from working for someone else? Only I can decide what works best for me.
This lifestyle isn't for everyone. I'm still waiting to hear from one person telling me how foolish I am for leaving a secure job. Perhaps I'll have to go back to an office someday and all this would have been for naught. Thankfully, I've never actually met that person since going solo. I hear more breaths of awe and support from people I meet. This lifestyle isn't easy, but I couldn't be more happy.