“You have it so easy.”

Yesterday I got an email from a friend I used to work with more than ten years ago, when I was still a corporate wage slave.

He kvetched for a bit about his current job situation, and how he’s doing the work of three people, and there’s no promotion track, and his VP made him cut his planned two-week vacation down to ten days, and so on.

Then at the end of the note, as a throwaway thought, he says “You have it so easy,” in reference to my life as a freelancer.

I didn’t take direct offense to it, as it’s something we often talk about, but it was merely the latest in a string of similar comments I’ve gotten recently from people who really do think it’s easy.

I can see where someone stuck in a crappy job with too much micromanagement and too little empowerment can see it that way, but let me just air some things out.

Yes, I’m lucky to be able to do something I love, and am at least marginally good at, for a living. Yes, I like the freedom to set my own schedule and work wherever I want, whether it’s my office or my front patio or a coffeeshop or even the beach.

Outside of that, it’s not all fun and games. I don’t get company-subsidized health insurance. I don’t get paid vacation or sick days or holidays. I don’t get mentoring or free training or even a yearly appraisal. I have to pay all of my taxes in advance every year, because I don’t have a salary to withhold from. I don’t have an IT department to call when my printer doesn’t work or when my computer crashes, and have to spend my own time remedying whatever technical problems pop up. I don’t have an HR staff to help me navigate the complexities of retirement savings and health benefits. I have to pay for all of my computer equipment and software and business cards and office supplies.

When I want to take a string of days off to travel or have leisure time, I don’t get paid for that. I have to save ahead for it, or at least have plenty of work lined up the week before and the week after to cover it. And even then, it’s hard to be “off the grid” for that much time away, because I still need to be pitching and querying and checking for commissioned work.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and wouldn’t trade this life for the world, but some people need to rid themselves of the illusion that self-employment is the “dream scenario” they think it is.

posted 6/12/09 at 12:12pm to Uncategorized · 0 replies · permalink