The life of a freelancer looked so glamorous and romantic to me. I envied artists who were making a comfortable living doing what they do, enjoying their flexible work schedules. I felt stuck at my teaching job.
When I finally did quit my job and became a freelancer alongside my husband, we gave up the comfort of a steady income so that we could have more flexibility with our time. Freelancing gave us the margin of time to slow down and enjoy life. We are more available for family, friends, our community, and those we serve.
There are also a lot of challenges: worry and anxiety-ridden sleepless nights when there seems to be no hope of future jobs, difficulty getting clients to pay invoices on time, and learning to cope with being uncomfortable and the unknown.
While I am busy, I cannot wait for life and work to slow down. When it does slow down, I enjoy it by reveling in sitting still, in having the time for myself to enjoy the day however I see fit, all the to-do lists checked off and completed. However, I soon start feeling very unmotivated and it eventually turns into sleeping in every morning, staying at home all day, and eating too much because I am bored. Soon enough, I find myself depressed, lonely, and isolated.
The reality is not all that romantic.
The lives of others look romantic from far away, like freelancing did for me, but it is not so anymore. Being in the thick of reality is not romantic.
I am not talking about the roses-and-chocolates-romantic or candle-lit-dinner-romantic.
I am talking about how we romanticize other people in our minds because all we see is the curated glamour of their lives portrayed on social media. We do not see their day-to-day struggles, the messiness. Or if we acknowledge the messiness, we tend to romanticize the "struggling starving artist” who lives on a ration of bread and peanut butter because he spent all his money on paints and canvases - the artist who would rather create than eat. That is not romantic in reality - that is the artist trying to make a living, eating bread and peanut butter because he spent all his money on paints and canvases so that he can sell those paintings, so that he can afford to buy fruits and vegetables and meat, maybe even eat out.
That is their reality, not glamorous nor romantic.
Sometimes, that is our reality, where it’s just easier to cut back by not eating out, keeping the window open instead of turning on the A/C, staying home on the weekends, or shopping at thrift stores. Our life is uncomfortable, messy, full of unknowns, and very unromantic.
But I would never trade our flexible, un-predicatable, adventurous life for a comfortable one. For us, life is too short and too sweet, too beautiful to miss for the sake of a stable income.
I would not trade our life for anyone else’s.
What do you tend to romanticize?
Did you experience the reality of it later? If so, when? How?
How has it changed your perception of it?