Juggling employment and self employment - 6 months on
Firstly, I can’t quite believe it’s 6 (nearly 7) months since I got my job. The 4 months and hundreds of applications I sent when I was job hunting back in April seemed like the longest 4 months of my life and yet the last 6 of being employed have flown by. It’s the classic case of feeling like it’s whizzed by and feeling like you’ve been there forever at the same time.
You can read all about my transition into office employment in this blog post but if you want the TLDR version, I had been solely self employed as an illustrator since graduating in 2015 and in April of last year our circumstances changed and one thing led to another and it meant I needed to get a regular pay cheque as well as my own biz. It’s now been 6 months and on January 24th I passed my probation period so I officially keep my job which is nice.
So how I am I finding the transition, half a year on?
Firstly, the actual office environment. I have never had an office job before, I have never had full time colleagues before and the closest I have ever got is my classmates in my shared studio in university. The move into an office space, and a small one at that, was actually easier than I expected. I half expected to hate the office environment and not working on my own which I have always thought is how I function best but actually, I have really enjoyed it.
A lot of it is undoubtedly down to my colleagues, I am 100% sure if I didn’t get along with them so well I’d have found the adjustment much more difficult but luckily they’re a fab set of women and we have a real life - both in and out of work. I am down with the tea rounds, love the Greggs breakfast and feel genuinely happy going in and out of work each day. Sure the office politics aren’t great when they rear their head and yeah some days are more stressful than others - but I found that with my freelance work too.
What I didn’t expect though and an aspect that I don’t like is the ‘living for the weekend’ mentality. I really don’t dread going in and out of the office 5 days a week but I didn’t expect weekends to become as sacred as they are now and I kinda hate it about myself. I don’t want to live waiting for the weekend but when the weekends are the only days you can have off to see family or travel or plan exciting things without using annual leave, it’s kinda inevitable.
See also; annual leave. I am in a by no means fancy job and I have the basic entitlement to everything - pay, sick days, annual leave….you name it I have minimal of it. One thing I am majorly struggling with this year as likely my first full calendar year in the job is the annual leave and how to make the most of it. Bank holidays are being bookended with time off as much as I can, we have to keep 5 days for the Christmas break which significantly lessens my chance of a day off and I am finding the battle to get the most out of the least incredibly difficult. My ability to travel, to visit friends who live hours away, to just book appointments or take myself off to the supermarket whenever I want is gone and I was so heavily reliant upon it when I worked for myself. My financial position might be better to allow me to do those things but the time away from the office deffo is not.
And what about my business?
It’s just not what I want from it right now. I knew I wouldn’t be able to put as much effort into my business now as I was able to do when it was my sole source of employment and that was half the battle internally for me when ‘giving it up.’
I am up and out by 8am every morning and I come home at 5.45pm if I’m coming straight home but the majority of evenings I am doing something or other. Be it getting petrol after work, going to my grandparents or to see my Mum, be it putting my niece to bed or doing something fun - chances are I’m out and about and if I’m not I’m trying to cram in a meal, time with Joss, catch up on TV, clean the house, do the laundry and then at the bottom of the pile - try and get some work done.
I am busy, my life is busy, it always has been for the past 4 years but now with a full time job that takes me out of the house it’s harder than ever to fit my own business in. I have consciously taken a step back from the business, a step back from creating new products and promoting myself whilst I got into the swing of working for someone else. My business has survived the past 6 months through repeat business from clients and one or two new projects which luckily had very long processing times and my trusty Etsy store.
But now, finally after 6 months I feel like I am finally getting into my groove. I like to think this blog revamp and the subsequent change in my illustration website is the start of something for me. It got me really motivated thinking about it, coming up with the ideas and making the changes and I am hoping it’s kick starting my business again. Maybe the balance is coming back.
So what are my plans for the next 6 months?
I for sure am staying in this job for now unless something goes awry and we all get sacked or summin. Being self employed, earning money always felt like a slog. It felt like hard work and pressure and it was stressful and I never made enough of it and for now, having a regular wage, albeit minimum, with limited stress is the actual dream for me. It’s allowing me to book holidays with friends without so much as a second glance, it’s allowing me to pay my bills without a worry and will allow me to pay for my own wedding. I am in a very fortunate position where our outgoings are low and we have nobody relying on us and disposable income to do what we want with and tbh, it’s kinda nice not saving all of it for now.
So for the next 6 months I am planning on working away in the office, continuing to do a decent job and hopefully being able to maximise my time spent on my own business. I want to create new products, design some new card ranges and get some new clients on the books.
But most importantly, I want to find and maintain a balance I am happy with.