ride the beast – self-employment in quarantine

Anxiety level: steady
When the shutdown of the country started, I thought it would mean lots of additional stress and planning on my part as a freelancer. And, in a way, it has. But not necessarily because I am self employed.

The additional planning required now is the same as the additional planning any person in lockdown might have – where to work, the new logistics of a work-day, when to buy groceries, where to go and not to go, that sort of thing.

Work-wise, to my surprise, not a lot has changed. Sure, some clients are contacting me less, but other clients still need their work proofread or translated, or even more so. So all in all, my workflow has been steady. A bit slower than usual, but still, steady.

And yet, my anxiety level is just about the same as it was before. I still have to worry about my clients and whether I need to acquire more or not. I still have to make sure clients pay on time. So, basically, the unsure feeling that everyone has now and that has been floating around on social media is the feeling the self-employed have—all the time.

Independence rules
On the positive side, quarantine has had almost no repercussions on me. With a flexible time table, I have always had longer bouts of time at home between jobs. Also, being childless, staying home is not as big an issue as some people working from home make it out to be. Working with ideas and language and not real products, I am only dependent on my clients, not on any producer or supply chain.

Having to deal with potential income loss and possible funding from the government has made me realize that I can’t stand being dependent on institutions or governments to make a living. In part, I guess, this is why I am self-employed: I do not want to be dependent on just one employer, one client, or even one skill. Realizing I probably won’t be eligible for any help from the government has really freed me to get back into the saddle, as it were, and ride this beast we call corona.

Together apart
I guess what the novel corona virus has taught me most is this: we are all connected, and no one is in this alone. Although I may have a good set-up at home and in my office, and by default be an introvert, if I don’t have clients, I don’t have work. It all of course also comes down to how much work my clients are doing that needs proofing or translating. The same applies to teaching: even regular students, if they are no longer able to take the exam they were studying for, no longer feel the need to study.

So, whether you are lucky enough to be able to work from home during quarantine or not, whether you are still working or just working part of your regular work schedule—it all also depends on what those around you are doing. As a freelancer, this is almost always the case anyways, but now, I think, people are beginning to realize how much this applies to all of society. Even though you might not see them, the connections between professions, fields of work and people are there.