Ghukas Stepanyan

@ghukas.stepanyan1

About the Struggles of Freelance Life

“Freelance, Freelance, Free. I’m free! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, work from Cafés’, eat some croissants, watch the sunset and drink dry red wine.” Her voice echoes in my head. She highlights the pain points of full-time employees, I can’t resist or deny, she makes fun of us, and she’s right. I take a sip of my coffee, there are black circles under her eyes, she hasn’t slept. It’s terrible, as always, not her, the coffee. I just pay for it every time and throw it away. I invite people for a coffee to talk, so that’s pre-planned.

I walk in silence, waves hitting the rocks inside my head. Next time I’ll be more prepared and focused, I will hit her with the facts straight to her face and see where it goes. It’s impossible to convince freelancers that they chose the hard life, as they’re sure about their freedom. They don’t change, it seems they have a choice, but it’s like North Korean elections, you know — there are 2–3 parties but 100% votes for Workers’ Party of North Korea.

6 years earlier

Social media is evolving. I have my first 2 jobs in marketing, and I’m doing fine, trying to manage everything. Freelance, Freelance, Free. I’m free! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, work fro….. my phone vibrates, it’s 2 AM. The client needs something right now. I promised things I can’t deliver. I walked around my house ass naked the whole week, watched movies and drank cola. My last report looks like a monster from Frankenstein’s movie. I kept delaying for the last day because I’m lazy. Now I’m awake at 4 AM trying to fix everything, because “free life, why not?” I have the same circles that my friend will have exactly 6 years time. I wake up at 2 PM; the day is gone. I go out, sit in a café, take a sip of my coffee, it’s terrible, as always. Every day is another day of search, I have to find new clients, I have to convince them to work with me, start with lower rates.

At first, I thought “oh cool! New people, different cultures,” but every piece of hope starts to fade away as soon as you meet the first bad clients. Virgil proceeds to guide me through the nine circles of Hell. I find myself within a large frozen lake: Cocytus, the Ninth Circle of Hell, but that’s not important. I finish the project; I’m exhausted. One of the clients disappeared before the payment, lucky me!

I don’t have a routine; I wake up at a different time every day. All my network is online and away from me, I don’t talk to people at all, I’m in my comfort zone. Full-time opportunities are scaring me. “I can’t sit 8 hours inside some building” my mind repeats. Sleep becomes a problem, and I don’t sleep well. It will pass, it will pass, it will pass; Will it? One sheep, two sheep, three sheep. It’s early morning; I’m awake, the sunrise is beautiful, the circles under my eyes aren’t. The depression comes slides inside my room and leaves the door open. I wake up in the middle of the night from baby cries inside my head. I close my eyes, hours pass, my tongue is so big it suffocates me. I wake up; it’s early morning. The depression brings me some guests like bad appetite and weight loss. Now I’m not alone. I read some positive thinking books like “how to stop worrying…,” “think and grow rich!,” “The Power of Positive Thinking.” The more I read, the more nihilistic I become. I meet doctors, doctors meet me, I write stories, stories control me. I have a lot of free time to spend money on unnecessary shit that makes me more miserable, I have more time to think about the meaning of our existence. I sit under the swimming pool and cry without reason. My relationships fall apart, and I start hating people in general. Then the medical treatment comes, and the doctor suggests that some Suvorexant won’t harm me at all.

“closeup photo of green water formation” by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Later somebody gives me advice to try a full-time job. I apply for some positions, nobody wants to hire me, but I have a lot of experience. They don’t give a shit about my freelance experience; it’s different. Finally, someone gives me an opportunity. I give up freelancing, and concentrate on my work. I start waking up at the same hour every day, I start eating something, now I have a daily routine, I start receiving basic income, every month, fixed, and I don’t have to look for a new client every 2–3 weeks. There are attractive people around the office and they care about each other, I start trusting people, I talk to them and God, they’re interesting! I realize communication is kind of my thing, and I get some HR related materials, and never look back.

6 years, 4 companies, 18kg, and 22 successful projects later…

I’ll meet my friend in 20 minutes over a coffee. I walk faster, I don’t want to be late, “I’m not some kind of freelancer.” We’re in a cool place, she’s depressed, I understand her. I want to convince her to get a new full-time job, I’m not sure whether that will help her or not, but it helped me. She cuts me halfway through my monologue. “Freelance, Freelance, Free. I’m free! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, work from cafés…” This cycle never stops. I give up in the middle of the argument because she makes some decent points. I take a sip of my coffee. I take a sip of my coffee; there are black circles under her eyes, she hasn’t slept. It’s terrible, as always, not her, the coffee. I just pay for it every time and throw it away. I just pay for it every time and throw it away. I just pay for it every time and throw it away. I just pay for it every time and throw it away. “Does this sentence represent the freelancer? Oh, it will hurt if I say it out loud, but that’s a good joke, I guess.” A half-smile appears on my face, she catches it, “what?” “I just think that freelancers are like my coffee.” “Why,” she asks. “They just suck, haha.” I cut my joke in half so nobody gets offended. She laughs like crazy and cries at the same time. Every time we meet it’s emotion roller coaster. I make the most stupid jokes possible, and she laughs until it becomes tears.

I guess I’ll hire her full-time this year. I really hope for it. Let’s not turn this into citalopram or escitalopram as there is still hope for everyone.

Shout out to freelancers! Love you guys!

Thank you if you are still here! You can check out my previous stories: The Girl With a Tattoo (But Not The Dragon One) and 19 Tips To Hire Your Next Best Designer. Let’s stay connected on LinkedIn.

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