Loneliness and Freelancing
Of course, there are the benefits; professional freedom, greater sense of responsibility, flexibility, quality time with your dog.
There’s a lot to be found in one’s own company, particularly in a social context where time spent genuinely and valuably alone is dwindling. Though, there’s also no shame in admitting that working alone, most or every day, can be lonely. As May Sarton said ‘Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.’ When a significant proportion of your time is spent solo, finding ways to ensure you fall on the right side of this balance, is a must.
As of last year, 2 million workers in Britain classified themselves as freelancers, that’s 15% of the workforce. And with 29% of new graduates seeing themselves starting up their own business, or incorporating freelancing in a big way into their careers, that number is set to rise. So, with a third of the workforce looking to spend the traditional third of their day spent alone, we’ve thought up some tricks to keep loneliness at bay.
With the proliferation of monumentally-scaled developments, ever-expanding city limits and resulting commutes; the humanity of, or capacity to humanely comprehend and experience, urban space is decaying. Add to this the proverbial collapse of community, as the parish, PTA or local family cease to be assumed as common features of our lifestyles; or the threadbare rhetoric around the isolating effects of social medias and digitalisation. These shifts are then, perhaps, felt most extremely by freelancers and the self-employed, with these forces being exacerbated by the inherently isolated and internal nature of the work.
Within this context, the minor brushes of socialisation and throw-away interactions with anonymous individuals that we each experience every day, can have the potential to be engendered with a greater significance and be nurtured to provide a very real, if modest, source of comfort.
This invisible network of low-key ties – be it bus drivers, baristas, park wardens or neighbours – can function as a modern simulation of that nostalgic, perhaps always imaginary, sense of community. The community which can be lacking in urban contemporary experience, particularly when we elect to work alone.
While of course not a substitute for deeper connections, cultivating these interactions and enmeshing ourselves in this ‘community’ is still valuable. Be it a few stops on your high street, or disparate sites across your contracted commitments, exchanging a pleasantry or learning the name of one of the regular extras in your life, can add a little friendly texture to your day.
Enforce Outdoor Routines
Even if it’s picking up the daily paper, a gym class, or joining an evening course, committing regularly, if not strenuously, to an external and ‘other’ activity is crucial; go for anything that genuinely interests you, pulls you out of your head and towards other people.
Not only will this interpose minimal, consistent human interactions into your day to day; it will also help with zoning your time. Being bound to an unbendable external schedule disrupts the daily expanses of time that you can otherwise be waking up to. This, then, instigates a routine, a temporal marker at which those things done and undone will be measured, and after which one returns with a post-distraction, refreshed mind.
Co Working Space and Hot Desking
Join the club, literally. Keep following the big dreams, be your own boss, but don’t do it on your own. Becoming part of a Co Working space offers the best of both worlds. As part of a Co Working community you’re surrounded exclusively with people who will, at least, be able to understand the pressures and positives of your situation, and, at best, be able to practically, socially and professionally ameliorate it.
When Co Working spaces work well, they’re like a petri-dish – just ideally without the implied mould. Spaces where ambitious plans and refined resources come together to incubate ideas from conception through to successful organisations. And, here at Hotel Elephant, we think we do this pretty well. With our educational programme for recent grads, emphasis on locality and community, cross-pollinating events and genuinely caring social support; we’ve shaped and continue to evolve a responsive and relevant co working body. So, swing by to one of our events, book a tour, or give us a call.