After nearly five years of being a full-time member of the Bay Area’s tech scene, I’m freelancing again. The first time I freelanced was in 2017, when it was still very much a pre-pandemic era of soul-crushing morning commutes on BART, WeWorks on every downtown corner, and a closet full of casual office clothing.
Back then, I freelanced because I wanted the freedom to travel internationally every month and work remotely. I successfully did it for a year and even started my travel blog that marked where I was going each month.
But after that year ended, I was burnt out from juggling clients and traveling, keeping track of time zones, and jumping on Zoom calls at midnight. On top of that, I felt resistance to the hustle and constant networking that needed to accompany freelance life. So, see ya freelance life. I happily went back to full-time work on the marketing team at KeepTruckin, now known as Motive, and stayed there until I was laid off after the pandemic.
Cut to 2022 and two years (has it only been two years?) of working from home… no commute, in-person meetings, no office lunches. Just me and my laptop at home. Like many fortunate people who lived this digital work-lifestyle, I immersed myself each day in work, responded diligently to every Slack message, email, and juggled projects in Asana like nobody’s business.
Not being in an office meant there was nothing really distracting me from the work and what I needed to do each day, except me. And believe you me when I say with each passing day in those two years, I got in my own way. A lot. I struggled to stay engaged and focused. My motivation waned, along with my desire to do the work.
The companies I worked for were top-notch, the people were intelligent and friendly, but still, I couldn’t shake a feeling that something needed to change for me.
Maybe this working from home business can be great, but only if I can do it my way. Freelance kind of felt right. So I thought, OK… round two for freelance, what would be different? What kind of work would prove to be more meaningful? What would I do with my extra time that was once dedicated to Zoom calls and All Hands meetings?
I gave it a lot of thought, but like a lot of things in life, it was still a bit murky. I just knew I wanted more time to think and reflect (and yeah, relax… hey, I live in Hawaii, not my fault) and explore what was out there, but it seems the universe already had a plan for me.
I’m now doing work that I enjoy and for the first time in a long time, got into the flow. Yes, the Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi-kind-of-flow-state-of-happiness. I can’t remember the last time I sat down at 7 am and looked up to discover it was 1pm!
I’m motivated, despite the fact that I currently have no health insurance or nearly the same paycheck as I did when I was full-time.
But I’m now spending a few days a week volunteering for a food bank and building homes for Habitat for Humanity. I’m also helping Habitat overhaul their website because it’s fun and fills that empty part of me that couldn’t be satisfied with equity, a fat paycheck, or free health insurance. Nothing wrong with any of those things, of course. I’ve been blessed in my career to have experienced all of the above.
It’s now time to experience work that pays my soul and connects me with the incredible people I’ve met along the way.