The last freelance project

Back in March, I had dinner with my parents and I was discussing with them the stress and anxiety I felt in a lot of areas of my life: my job, my freelance work, my music, my writing. Everything, it seemed, was in disarray and I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. My full-time job was sucking and I was trying to build up enough freelance work to be able to quit my job. But all of that left me no time for the things that really make me happy: playing music and writing. And if I were able to “succeed” and go full-time freelance, then I’d just have to manage a bunch of clients, scramble for money all the time and still try to fit in music.

I felt really trapped. “Something has to give,” I said. They tried a bit of the usual talking me out of “the dream” (my parents often see music as “fun” and a “dream” and so they don’t understand why there would be any question but that music would be the thing dropped from the schedule). I tried, as frustrated as I was, to explain that I don’t have any choice about playing music. I just do it. I can’t stop writing songs. If I work 8 hours and freelance for 6 more hours, I’ll still stay up playing guitar until 2 in the morning and be a wreck at work the next day.

Finally my mother said, well you know what has to go: the freelance.

I still clung on to a couple of projects. In one of them, a client continued to ignore my advice, prolonging a disastrous project and getting us deeper and deeper into a management nightmare. At long last, I emailed him and said “no.” In the other, I was stuck between the friend who’d gotten me the gig for his company and doing what I thought I was supposed to do for his boss. There was no way to win there. And when it got to the point where my friend got really upset with me, I thought, “this isn’t worth it. I’m done.” I decided I’d complete the project the way they wanted and that would be it.

Last night, I finished that project. So I’m done with freelancing. Sure, I might take another freelance gig down the road but it’ll have to be a long while. It’s not worth tension with friends or arguing with a client who doesn’t respect my experience. I’m relieved to be done with it and I look forward to spending my nights playing music (though I’ll still stay up all night doing it).