1 year in work | 1 year out of self employment
As of today I have been working for 395 days and it has gone by faster than you can say ‘regular money’. I think it says everything you need to know about how I’ve found working full time with the fact that I wanted to write this post for my 1 year of work anniversary on July 24th and yet here we are, nearly a month later.
For those of you who are new around here, a little summary of my life might be handy?
After graduating in 2015 with an illustration and children’s publishing degree, I embarked on three years of self employment. I was a freelance illustrator, blogger, designer plus childcare for my niece for three years till last summer and I bloody loved it, loved the freedom and hated the money.
After my then boyfriend now fiancé also went self employed when he jacked in his carer job to co own a cider company with his Dad I went on a 4 month soul destroying bender of 100 job applications until I got my current job in July 2018 and started a mere fortnight after my interview.
I work for a training company in my hometown as an administrator where I am responsible for front of house, some HR roles and course materials production and I really properly enjoy it. I work five days a week 9.00am - 5.30pm but I am still working freelance in my ‘spare time’ of which I have none.
So a whole 365 days (and a few more) on, what do I really make of the world of office work?
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way shall we? Irregular money is undoubtedly the worst thing about being self employed so of course, having a set wage every month was a huge lifestyle change to the better for me. Knowing what money is coming into my bank account has made a massive positive impact on my life, knowing what needs to be paid, being able to set myself a budget and being able to actually save has been a god send.
Gets me out of the house
I didn’t think I had a problem at all with being self employed because I did used to leave the house to go to work because my office was at my Mum’s house, but it wasn’t until I started going to an actual office with actual people that I realised how much I missed that interaction. It’s also been a benefit for me to be out because Jos has learnt lots of new things around the house as he’s there more than me now and definitely helped me lose a couple of pounds from getting up from sitting at my desk.
Aside from the cash, my work colleagues have 100% been the best thing about my job for me. I am lucky enough to have a fab bunch of work pals and really genuinely enjoy spending time with them. They make work all the better and we have a laugh (and really good snacks), let alone the time we spend outside work hanging out or the group chats that you can guarantee will be buzzing away when we’ve left the office for the day.
I’ve never had an office job before so coming into this kind of role, I knew I could do it but I also knew there were things I definitely blagged and learning new skills has been an unexpected benefit. I huge part of my job involves working on Microsoft Powerpoint which I hadn’t used in years, plus Excel which I know I’ve never used to it’s full potential before and I’ve definitely become more competent at the full suite of Microsoft packages which has been a change from normally working on a Mac on Adobe.
Weirdly, working has really improved my wardrobe. I have been a die hard jeans and a shirt kinda gal for years but having to dress smart casual has broadened my horizons clothes wise and now I am a fully fledged fan of a pleated midi skirt, own more smart flats than you can chuck at someone and have realised I look a million times better in black jeans than blue. And my fake tan skills have improved ten times over.
Learnt things I can take to self employment
I always knew I had learnt a lot from self employment that I could take into a job, it was just getting as far as interview to be able to prove it but what I didn’t take into consideration was what working for someone else would mean for my freelance career. I have perfected the art of a friendly but professional email, small talk with clients is now my forte and I am more organised than ever. I have definitely developed a better ability to manage my time and I actually feel more challenged than I did for a long time working for myself.
Working for someone else and dealing with external clients and colleagues and associates has definitely made me more professional and given me a better sense of decorum and direction. Being self employed it’s easy to treat everyone as a pal and my current job has also given me a better ability to say no and put my foot down. I have deadlines, I know how to manage my role and I know the limits of my abilities and I am all the better for it.
No free time
The biggie for sure. I have no time to do anything, ever. Work of course takes up the majority of my day but I didn’t expect it to knock me for six, even a year on. I thought I’d give myself a few months, maybe to Christmas, to get into the groove and then I thought I’d be back in my normal routine but ohhhh no. By the time I’m out of the office and home there’s cleaning and cooking and laundry and general home running, there’s remembering to eat and wash my hair, there’s babysitting and two little girls who want my attention three days a week now, there’s freelance work to do, never spend time with Jos and oh yes, we decided to throw wedding planning into the middle too.
I feel I can spend more
I have always had a good relationship with money. I managed to spend a lot at uni and have a good time and life self sufficiently without the bank of Mum and Dad but I also saved a grand to enable me to buy my car when I came out. But now, oh now I feel like I have excess money because it’s more regular than I ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shopping all the time and putting myself in debt and I am saving part of my wage every month and contributing to my pension pot but I definitely have more of a ‘A tenner? Yeahhh I can afford that!” more than I ever would have before.
I never draw any more
I really don’t. The last thing I drew was my wedding invitations and I LOVED having the opportunity to doodle and sketch and made me realise just how much I miss it. Now the only time I draw is for client work and I can’t count on one hand the last times I drew for fun in the last year. Because it has been none. Zero. Zilch.
Self employment becomes a chore
One I definitely didn’t expect was for my freelance job, the one I am passionate about and never wanted to give up, to become the one that feels like a chore. I have always wanted in the future to be able to go back to full time self employment, it really is the career I want and the life I want to live but trying to combine it with full time work for someone else has made it feel like ‘another inconvenience’. It’s another thing to add to my list of things robbing me of my time and I hate for it to feel like that when it should be the other way around.
I don’t have time to promote
And because I am not, the freelance work is slowing up. I have my regular client who I do work for every single month and I have people who come back to me every year for seasonal projects but I haven’t had a new commission from a brand new client in a few months. My Etsy sales are slowing down to their lowest rate in months and my blog stats are dropping off a cliff and it’s all because I have no time to promote myself, my business or create new projects and content to keep myself out there.
I have no hobbies left
I forget what hobbies feel like. My hobbies; drawing, blogging, photography, reading……..I barely remember them now. I haven’t put self care first for a good year and I haven’t made time to do any of the things I like to do because they all fall below the priorities of work, family and living a normal human life in a clean house with a car that works and food in the cupboards. I keep kidding myself when the wedding planning is over I will have more evening time to do the fun things again but really, how does that explain what I filled my time with in the four months between starting my job and getting engaged.
I feel like I’ve failed
The one I try not to think about too much because oh lawdy ain’t it heavy. I don’t really feel like I’ve failed at my freelance career because I know it' isn’t over, but it’s hard to feel like it was a resounding success when I have very little time to dedicate to it at the moment. I think maybe my feeling of failure stems more from other people’s perceptions of it. Of the ‘you’ll love having a real job’ comments when I got it to the ‘so do you still do your drawing thing now?’ questions of the moment. Trying to keep thinking this isn’t forever.
And so, in conclusion? A year on from giving up the full time freelance life and swapping it for tea rounds, office gossip and complicated telephone systems? I actually love it more than I thought I would.
I was devastated when we decided I needed to take on a full time job and I really couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel but a year down the line I can see it’s actually brought a lot more positives to my life than I ever thought. I thought I’d be living pay cheque to pay cheque, breaking my neck for the weekends and generally hating every minute I was working for someone that wasn’t me but it really hasn’t been like that and even in the stressful times, I genuinely wake up more than happy to go to work.
It’s not a high paid job no, but it’s not high pressured either and whilst I do a damn side more than the job title administrator would suggest, I don’t take a lot of my work home with me mentally either. I love my job role, I love my colleagues and I love that regular cash.
For me, this job was meant to be. I was meant to see that advert when I saw it and get that interview when I got it and I know from the phone call inviting me in that I had got it, before I’d even been there. I wasn’t nervous for the initial meeting and I was calm as a cat on the first day and I just knew that I’d like it and I’d be ok there. It’s convenient, it’s local, it’s in town, it’s got free parking outside and it’s flexible when I need it to be.