How I Put the ‘’Free’’ in Freelancer

Homeworking once a week – naah, how about every day?

One ”home office” day per week just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I know what you’re thinking – some people would kill just for the possibility to WFH (work from home) on a Friday. But I am a free-thinking millennial who lives in Europe and works in tech. The new world of work is already a fact for me and I stopped seeing why sitting on an uncomfortable chair at a fluorescent corporate prison for 8+ hours a day should be the norm long ago.

Not all that glitters is gold

More than two years ago I found myself progressing up the corporate career ladder, enjoying the highly coveted Director title,  in charge of managing the digital, content and social media strategy + execution for a corporation with operations across the world. I was important, I had a company car, the latest shiny iPhone, regular business travel across Europe and 26 days of annual leave, which by most standards is superb.

Stuck in a rut

Somehow, though, I wasn’t fulfilled by my role or inspired by my office environment, which was neither fun, nor dynamic. I dreaded going to the office each morning and the unlimited Nespresso shots provided by the company were my only salvation. Truth be told, I worked around people who had been with the company for too long and they, too, weren’t happy to be there or entirely positive on most days and it affected me. I felt drained by the constant complaining, gossip and negativity. Thank God It’s Friday! is a phrase that resonated with me tenfold as it was not only the last working day before the weekend but also my usual homeworking day, when I could get stuff done without drinking 10 Nespresso cups in 8 hours and trying to be social.

As all things in life go, the stress and negativity I was experiencing at the office added up over time and I started having health issues, which required me to take several weeks of leave from work. During those weeks I realized how much better I felt just being away from the office drama, and I got better and happier within days. The only thing that kept stressing me out was having to go back to work eventually. When that time came, my boss let me go because he had seen how unhappy I was in my role, and it was a huge relief.

Unemployed, homeless and single

As soon as I breathed that big sigh of relief at no longer having to go to the office, it dawned on me that I was now jobless, carless, phoneless and would have to move out of my apartment by the end of the month as I could no longer afford it. I had some savings but I needed them to get me through god-knows-how-many months of having no income and my Brussels apartment wasn’t cheap. I had no choice but to move in with my, by then, ex-boyfriend, who was travelling a lot and not spending much time at his flat. While he was there, though, the situation was more than awkward and it was clear I needed to find work fast.

From a corporate exec to a pajama warrior

I was prepared for the search for my next gig to take months and was already dreading the new type of prison I had willingly put myself into when I, on a limb, decided to make a posting on LinkedIn, announcing that I was now available for new opportunities. A remote business contact messaged me within the hour, asking me if I would consider a 3-month project for his company as a freelance digital marketing consultant. At first I was apprehensive about having no stability and much lower pay than before but I hated that life anyway so what was there to lose? I quickly accepted and enjoyed working from home during most of those three months. After this project ended, I quickly got another, longer and better paid one, followed by another one, and another one…

The only constant is change. As soon as you embrace it, you will never again feel uncertainty in life.

Since that first proposal, I have worked for a number of interesting companies, including a tech startup, an established multinational and a fully remote company, all as a location-independent freelancer. My projects have been as diverse and exciting as all the new countries and continents I have been able to visit during my relatively short time as a digital nomad (Estonia, Slovakia, Croatia, Norway, the UK, Morocco, the Philippines, Cuba, Colombia and Panama, to mention a few).

Blessings in disguise

In hindsight, losing my stable, fancy-pants job I hated was one of the best things that could have happened to me at a time when a title and material possessions didn’t fulfill my heart’s desires. I can’t wait to see what other adventures and places my newfound freedom and lifestyle will inevitably bring. Although it was unnerving at first, not knowing where I will be or what I will do for a living next year is something I have fullheartedly embraced and learned to cherish.

Ina is Flylancer’s host for Sofia, Bulgaria, and also a freelance Digital Marketing Consultant & Tech Writer. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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