Hey gang, today I wanted to discuss the variety of ways in which working for myself affects my mental health; because it really does, in a huge way! Some are positive and some negative, but I hope overall it may give you insight into what everyday life is like for me. I have been meaning to write a post like this for months now, but when I broke down today crying all over my fiance; I decided it was time to share!
Being your own boss
This is obviously the greatest thing about working for myself; I’m in charge! I worked constantly from when I was 15 years old, until I was 27; in crappy retail jobs, call centre positions, care homes, offices, children’s play centres, and many more random jobs. All up until the point I was sort of making enough to quit and work for myself (with a LOT of support and reliance on my fiance). So I understand the 5am wake up calls, the bitchy coworkers, the bosses that treat you like shit, the disgusting minimum wage, the no sick-pay packages, no mental health understanding, the exhaustion, the customers treating you like dirt, the terrible commutes and the fear that you’ll always be stuck in this place that makes you so miserable you cry after every god damn shift.
Bit much eh? I just want to stress, that I understand how much it can SUCK, for a huuuge chunk of us average joes. So being my own boss now, with all that in mind; feels like ecstasy. It truly feels like I’m the luckiest girl in the world, and I should wake up every god damn day squealing with delight (and sometimes do!). So this part of working for myself is AMAZING for my mental health. I’m the most understanding boss and will always put my best employee first (dats’ me).
Changing the path you’re on
If I feel stuck in a rut, I can change things! That sounds simple enough, but I really want to shine a light on how important that is. If I feel like I should head into another direction career wise, I can. So many don’t have that privilege. I can concentrate on one particular thing that brings me passion, and steer my path that way instead of having to stick to any rules.
To be clear here though, I’m not saying I have the privilege of being able to suddenly take up a law degree, or some shit. I just mean if I want to concentrate on a different art form, I can.
Loneliness sneaks up
Im a bit of a loner, I like my own space a lot. When I’m with my friends; I’m loud, bubbly, always laughing and feel good socialising (usually). However at the end of a day with friends, I feel DRAINED. I definitely fit into the camp of introverted personalities who then have to spend time alone to recharge a little. If I spend all day with friends, I couldn’t do it the next day too. I need my time to recharge.
However, despite me feeling very, very comfortable with my own space and absolutely thriving artistically when alone (especially at night); loneliness sneaks up on me often because I work for myself. I’ll go days, even weeks sometimes without seeing anyone but Gary, and I only seem to talk to people through Whatsapp or text, no phone calls. Especially now that I’ve moved to Plymouth, and I’m away from all my old friends and family; I’m incredibly lonely a lot of the time. I feel like I’m missing out on the world sometimes, and I’m left with a sadness that can be totally debilitating. This is awful for my mental health as I constantly feel like I’m missing out, or that no one really cares about me.
(I know people do, this is just how it can feel.)
Self doubt is your best friend
Since I have no colleagues to run things by (and I’m a bit of a perfectionist tbh); no one sees things I’m working on until they’re completely finished. This can often mean I have to rely 100% on myself, without any guidance, advice or fresh eyes on something, to pass judgement. And we’re always harshest with ourselves aren’t we? So even if I have a good idea, or I’m passionate about something; I might kill the project before I’ve even began because self doubt creeps into my brain.
Money is a constant worry
When I mention this to some people, I can tell that they think I mean I’m worried about having any spare cash at the end of the month, or I’m worried I won’t be able to go on holiday this year. The harsh reality is; my money worries mean I’m constantly having to check if I have money to buy food this week. I can never ever ever go out or even go the cinema with Gary or something, unless I’ve had a particularly great week or two of sales (for perspective, we haven’t been out really since before we moved here 4 months ago). Holidays are just not something we can even try for right now, and we never ever buy ourselves things unless it’s like a SUPER special treat. We live small, and that’s fine. But the panic that it brings is sickening, and often brings me to tears.
There’s no backup plan
I have no pension plan, no sick pay, no holiday pay, and no other job lined up. If nobody buys from my Etsy this week, I won’t be eating next week. It’s fucking terrifying to not have anything else lined up if needed, and no savings or spare cash if something goes wrong. My bank is constantly overdrawn and I feel like I’m living on the very edge, always.
Which draws me to my conclusion; working for myself is absolutely awful for my mental health, and it’s a constant battle. Sure, there are some AMAZING perks and I’m massively grateful for what I do have; but overall it can be utterly horrible.
So why am I doing this? I know, it’s the obvious question. I honestly can’t find the words to answer that right now. There are many, many times I search for jobs local to me (always crappy retail jobs on minimum wage as I probably can’t get much else) and many times I consider giving all this up. There are also times people will take the time to message me and tell me how much they love my work, or someone will snap up a painting before the paint is even dry; and I’ll think, ‘This!! This is the dream! This is why I do it!‘. Late at night when I’m painting away, writing for this blog, or whipping up new ideas for future plans, I’ll feel so ALIVE, motivated, creative and driven; that I think I could never ever give this up for anything. I’m following my dreams, and that’s always been the most important thing in the whole world to me. I never dreamed of travelling when I grew up (though that’d be nice), I never daydreamed about marriage or kids (again, this will be nice whenever we do); I spent countless hours thinking about how successful I was going to be. I dreamed of creating art that was appreciated, that was 100% me, and that bared my soul. I dreamed of people reading my words and connecting with me.
So maybe that’s why I’m still doing this. As hard as it is right now, I’m just not quite ready to give it up. I can live on baked beans, I can do without everything but a paintbrush in my hand and a little inspiration. Wish me luck?
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