1. “So do you like, watch Netflix all day?”
No. I work. A lot. I probably work more than I did in an office job, because A) I’m doing something I actually enjoy and B) I don’t suffer from the general exhaustion that comes with waking up at 6am, working from 9am-5pm, and getting home after dinnertime. I can use all of those hours people waste on getting ready and commuting to produce my work.
That’s not to say I don’t take breaks or do weird stuff during the day. I like that I can do my laundry at 11am when no one else is around, or go to the gym at off-hours. I also happen to work better between the hours of 3pm and 9pm, so being able to set my own hours is super key in maintaining productivity.
2. “I could never work from home.”
This statement is usually meant to be benign, but for some reason it often comes off as pretentious; it makes me feel like my ability to be self-disciplined and focused is bullshit. I think I’d feel better if it was followed by something like, “I give you mad props for doing it!” or, “How can I get over that hump?”
The good news is that if someone put a gun to your head and said, “YOU HAVE TO BECOME A FREELANCER!” you wouldn’t have to worry about setting up an office at home. You could work in a café. You could work at a co-working space. You could work at the beach, if that’s where you work the hardest / best / easiest. I prefer my home office because it’s already there, but lots of my co-workers “clock-in” from different venues. It depends on the person, and their level of fighting off distraction. Some people need the rigidity of regulated hours and a dedicated workspace.
3. “Do you ever put on pants?”
Yes. Mostly. There are definitely days where I roll out of bed and get to work, simply because there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. But I do try and dress like a normal human. I might not wear a suit, but I change my underwear every day and wear what’s comfortable.
4. “Wait, your boss doesn’t give you time off for Columbus Day?”
Why should he? If I need a day off, I just ask for it. As long as I can get my work done, or have it covered by someone else, I don’t need to worry about vacation time. I actually feel weird when a day goes by and I don’t contribute to my job somehow. Even on personal trips I’ll take an hour or so a day to check-in and make sure everything is running smoothly.
When you really enjoy what you’re doing, and your work environment is stable, you don’t mind doing it, no matter where you are.
5. “Are you super poor?”
Actually, I make more money working from home than I ever did working a 9-5 job in New York City. I am in control of my salary, therefore I better bust my ass in order to maintain my lifestyle. Plus, I’m able to save on stuff like transportation, lunch, and wardrobe costs, and I can write off things like my internet bill, my train tickets to work-related events, even a portion of my laptop since I use it for work.
Assuming that freelancers are unfortunate creatures who can’t deal with a “normal” job is patronizing. My freelancer friends are some of the hardest-working people I know because they understand the worth of being a self-starter. They are also very business-savvy; some are able to pay their entire month’s rent from a single 1,000-word article. That’s fucking powerful.
6. “You must be really lonely.”
It depends on the person, I think. I for one am happy to be rid of distracting, moronic coworkers who wasted so much of my time asking which singer on American Idol I thought was the best. I work a lot better when there aren’t other people around me, breathing down my neck, or piling more work on my desk.
I get to interact with my coworkers enough via Skype and Gchat, but I do miss the clear inter-office communication that comes with working a desk job. I can’t grab an after-work beer with my senior editor, and I’m lucky if I get to meet up in-person with the people on my team once a year. You have to be okay with being alone a lot, which not everyone is. But just because we work alone, doesn’t mean we’re lonely.
7. “Don’t you want a REAL job?”
Aside from sounding super condescending, you’re also just an idiot in general, because I’ve clearly explained fully what I do, how I work with others, and how I make money. But I suppose none of that constitutes what a “real” job entails. So you’re right, I’ll go scouring the papers for something that’s half as fulfilling and flexible. Is your company hiring?