On Fitting Life into Work, Instead of Vice-Versa
I often talk about the money aspect of freelancing. Sure, I make good money. Great money, compared to many writers.
But money isn’t life.
One of the main reasons I love the freelance lifestyle is because it allows me to fit my work into my life instead of having to fit my life into my work. Let me explain.
When I was nursing at the bedside, I planned my life around shifts, scheduled call, and random call-ins to cover for nurses calling off sick or something. Like many of you (don’t deny it!) I strategically declined calls originating from the hospital on my days off.
And then, if I decided to listen to the voicemail after all, I often felt guilty for not calling my charge back and saying, “I can hear the desperation in your voice. So, sure, give me an hour to change into scrubs, pack a lunch, and shuttle in from the parking lot to cover that shift.”
I felt I constantly had to sacrifice my personal life for my profession.
During my nursing career, I…
Abruptly canceled medical appointments due to getting called in to work
Missed holidays with my family due to taking my turn at holiday coverage
Abandoned shopping carts full of groceries because I got called in mid-shop
Canceled a long-awaited vacation with my late husband because my unit had several nurses quit all at once
Had to work while my dad was on home hospice and literally dying in my dining room because I couldn’t get a nurse to cover my work shift
The list goes on.
I’m not whining about it. I knew all of this when I took up nursing. But that doesn’t mean I ever liked it.
You’ve been there, too. I’m sure of it.
Once I got acclimated to the freelance lifestyle, I realized how liberating it was to fit my work into my life instead of having to fit my life into my work – the way it had been when I was at the bedside.
Today, I never have to worry about being interrupted by a client while grocery shopping. As I’ve (literally) said to a client before, “There’s no such thing as a ‘writing emergency.’” I never have to cancel a vacation because something related to work comes up. When it’s my mom’s time to pass, I will be able to manage my schedule to give me all the time I need to stay at her side and tell her I love her.
On a less-monumental scale, too, I enjoy the schedule freedom I get from freelancing. Yesterday I took an hour off in the middle of the day to take a long walk in the sunshine with my dog. I frequently knock off work early so I can spend more time with my mom. I can always go back into the office in the early evening, after she’s retired to her bedroom to watch TV.
I mean, this is what life’s really about, isn’t it? Spending time with loved ones and pets. Spending time on self-care, like spur-of-the-moment midday hikes because the weather allows.
Life’s not about money. It’s about the limited amount of time each of us is afforded to inhabit this existence of ours – and how we spend those precious minutes.
And, true, some of us may be experiencing a LOT of time with loved ones right now, under quarantine. I hope you’re able to see the blessing in that (amidst the potential madness it may be inspiring!).
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