This year has been a bit of a whirlwind in the freelance universe. - At least for me. There have been struggles, successes, unnecessary complications, all the usual stuff really. However, my biggest takeaway from the year is a bit of a surprising one. You see, over the past 11 months, I’ve come to the conclusion that freelancers themselves are a bit nuts, and not in a good way.
For the most part, my damning criticism of freelancers stems from my dabbling in the world of coworking. A coworking space opened last year in my islands largest city. At that time, it came on my radar after several home disasters. Power cuts at the worst possible moment. Flooding which killed my electrics (and which still means none of the light fittings in my apartment work). Someone cutting through my Internet cable, twice. You name it, 2017 and early 2018 was like being cursed.
In my mind, I figured that paying 30 Euros a week to have somewhere where I could go day or night to work, would be a killer investment. However, after just three months of coworking on a semi-regular basis, I had to quit.
It was the people. Pompous. Arrogant. Superficial. I can safely say that I didn’t have a single day where I felt at ease with the coworkers around me. In fact, problems started right on day 1, when I arrived with my then Windows RT Surface 2 tablet. Jests were exchanged, along with recommendations concerning the kind of tech I should be using. I let all that pass, of course. However, my so-called coworkers couldn’t.
After out of date tech jibes came jibes about Fiverr, what I do, how much money I make, and even my choice of friends. I even became known as the guy who hangs out at the ‘Bum Bar’ meaning the cheapest place in town. And that was everything that was said to my face. God only knows what was said behind my back.
Would you pay 30 Euros a week to sit at a table surrounded by several people waging a not-so-silent ego war against you?
So I quit. Then I invested instead in a new super tablet with an epic battery life and a 4G mobile router for emergencies. However, I didn’t immediately resign myself to the fact that all freelancers are narcissistic egomaniacs. Instead, in planning my still pending move to another country, I discovered an apparently more upmarket coworking space which could apparently organize the whole thing for me.
On this coworking space website, the owners touted being able to arrange everything from accomodation to airport transfers. For me, this seemed like an incredible opportunity. However, when I reached out, things quickly turned sour.
Prices for accommodation weren’t just double and triple what was advertised. As well as this, prices were double and triple prices pertaining to the exact same accommodation listed on independent booking and real estate websites. Then the hard selling started, as the coworking space proprietors tried to convince me to take out an annual membership before I had even seen the place.
And then we come to online freelance communities…
Needless to say, My Buzz is exempt from what I am about to say next. However, this year I’ve noticed a trend on several freelance forums of… Well, people being less than friendly.
Due to my experiences, I’m working on a theory that freelancing might be psychologically damaging. As freelancers, we have to deal with scammers, abusive people, and often exploitative people on an almost weekly basis. Over time, do we, therefore, fall victim to a kind of freelancer transference? - Specifically, one where we start to manifest the same attitudes of superiority and arrogance as our worst clients?
Alternatively, does freelancing attract people with borderline sociopathic tendencies? They say, after all, that most CEOs demonstrate psychopathic traits. In this case, could it be that top freelancers get to where they are by having less than favorable personality traits to start with?
Personally, I think a psychology student could have a field day exploring the effects freelancing has on mental and possibly physical health. We know nightshift workers are susceptible to several physical and mental disorders. What, though, do we know about freelancers who often also work nights, rarely have proper rest days, and deal with some of the world’s most difficult people?
Lastly, I’m basing my assessment of freelancers as more prone to negative personality traits on real-world working interactions with other freelancers. Maybe I just had a raw deal.