Typically, I don't have the heart to tell them that, no, I do not spend my days looking like this:
Or even like this:
The reality is that, one year ago, I quit my office job as a writer/editor, moved to a city with no salaried jobs in my field (smart, huh?), and embarked on a life of freelancing. Everything I knew about freelance writing (ahem, Carrie Bradshaw) looked pretty glamorous and I expected my new gig to be no different—despite the fact that I would longer have a reason to adhere to the alleged fashions of the times, or even wear clothes at all, and I had no one to talk to all day except the stuffed mini alpaca that sits here, judging me, on my desk.
I've learned that being Carrie Bradshaw, or Hannah Horvath for that matter, in real life is about as realistic as pooping rainbows. But, freelancing? It's still pretty awesome. So, come, gather round my unmade bed, er, Friday office, and let me tell you what freelance writing is really like.
1. Working from home means that sweatpants are your new dress code.
Some people believe in making their beds and getting dressed every morning to get a fresh, productive start. These people are delusional. But they probably get laid more than I do. You'd have to ask my fiancé, but I imagine there are few things sexier than coming home to your future wife after a long day at a real office and find that she has not showered, brushed her teeth, nor changed out of the ratty clothes she was wearing when you kissed her goodbye that morning.
Still, a sharp decline in sexiness is worth not having to wear actual clothes, IMHO.
2. Working from home means that you're actually working, not housewifing.
In February, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer mandated that her work-from-home employees get their butts back into their company-issued ergonomic office chairs. Where they would, presumably, be more productive.
However, I've found that I probably work more when I'm at home. There's no lunch hour, break time, or coworkers coaxing you to get froyo when the 3 p.m. slump hits. When you're salaried, you get paid even if you slack off, when you freelance you don't. Which means that my dreams of having a sparklingly clean house in which I'd whip up homecooked meals while wearing lingerie night after night never materialized.
As much as I'd love to spend all day doing this…
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3. Working from home means that you're actually working, not playing.
To that end, I thought that freelancing would mean a little writing, then I would be free to hike, go to yoga, hit the gym and, basically, end up with a body like this:
But, again, I'm working. And when I'm not working, I'm looking for work. Or, I'm doing what I did when I worked in an office: Wasting time on Facebook. Or Pinterest. Hey, I've got a wedding to plan.
4. Working from home means that you'll lose your people skills.
Nearly everyone who finds out that I work from home askes me, "Don't you ever get lonely?" I don't know, do you think it's a problem that my most meaningful conversation of the day is typically with the grocery checkout guy at Albertson's? Or that, because I am a responsible, frugal shopper, thankyouverymuch, I like to chat with George (he has a name) about the new rewards program, his day, whatever shred of a relevant conversation topic I can find? Yeah, I get lonely, all right.
5. Working from home means you might actually miss the office from time to time.
My favorite thing about working in an office was the free snacks. One place I worked we had string cheese, cookies, Goldfish crackers, some kind of newfangled, powdered Nespresso machine, and even beers on tap. However, when you work from home, presumably for "yourself" but really for many other people, there is no such thing as "free." You no worky, you no snacky.
Sure, freelancing isn't totally what I thought it would be, but I wouldn't trade my (sometimes stinky) existence for any other. After all, that endless free processed food comes with a price: You have to sit in the same damn chair for nine hours straight—under fluorescent lights no less—in order to get it.
Plus, now that I've worked in sweatpants, I don't think I could go back to actually getting dressed every day.