I haven’t done one of these in such a long time that I almost forgot why I used to do them at all. Bottom line, it reminds me that the lessons I’ve learned are real. This piddly, little exercise in regurgitating the week’s nonsense seems lame sometimes. But then I remember that one John Oliver makes a load of dough while doing just that. So, here I go. I’ll now stop freelancing with blurred lines. Maybe.
Come January, I’ll celebrate my first decade in this entrepreneurial world of hustling for my living. It’s my way of life. And over the years, I’ve managed to keep work where it belongs – at McDonald’s while I pirated their wifi on my MacBook Pro from the hours of 9-5. And just so you get where I’m coming from, I mean I was too poor to pay for my own wifi. And every night after putting my sleeping beasts to bed (my kids), mommy would go off to work on
stolen commandeered internet service.
How Freelancing with Blurred Lines Snuck Into My World
I never noticed the boundaries between my clients and me. It just was. I wasn’t yet breaking the rules by freelancing with blurred lines. In my strange naivety, I somehow knew to keep church and state, work and non-work separate from one another.
All that changed recently. Without saying too much I’ll paraphrase by arriving at the end of the story rather than comb through in tangled agony every detail. In short, I have a lot more time on my hands today than I have in a year. It’s a shocker to go from head down, not looking up to, well, this.
I love what I do. And my work gives me pleasure and purpose. But when changes happen, I’ve always rolled with them. Work wasn’t personal. It was work.
It’s like I forgot that over the course of the past year. I wrote a book in which I provided a thesis and then supported it with anecdotes from my life and the lives of my friends. Granted, I colored it a bit in shades of rose. But the fundamental parts, every name I mentioned (all of them pseudonyms, of course) and every bit I talked about actually happened.
I now see that writing that book, a book I love and loved writing, wasn’t a smart idea. It opened up a part of me I didn’t know existed and pounded on a nerve I thought had died along with the events chronicled within.
How wrong I was.
And that’s how freelancing with blurred lines snuck into both facets (the professional and personal) of my world.
Repairing the Situation
Sometimes you can’t fix it no matter how hard you try. Eventually, we’re all left with the same set of choices: Either you maintain the status quo. Or you don’t.
For me, it’s complicated (no surprise there!). On the one hand, I’ll be moving across the country to a state I’ve set foot in once while on vacation with my brother. While I fell in love even then (I mean, California even rolls off the tongue in some kind of way!) and knew I’d one day want to live there, I didn’t want to do it this way. I didn’t want it to be my only option.
Now here I sit, on the precipice of the next chapter of my life, on the eve of my great migration wondering why my professional life (the thing that caused this mess to begin with) is suddenly calm. Did me hocking off everything I own finally balance out the universe and unblur the lines I blurred by mixing meat with dairy?
Yesterday was rough. I felt it all at once: the move, the changes, my fault in it for bringing it home with me, and it didn’t take much to push my teetering self over.
When it was over, and the tears finally stopped, we talked about it. And six tequila shots in, I felt better. I was aware of the permanence of the aftermath in the same way I had been when emblazoning what would one day become Phenomenal Dad’s content onto my memory. I could feel myself wading through it. But then again, it could’ve been the tequila.
One at a time, they’ve stopped. The reverb has ceased. Let’s assess.
The move is still happening because I can’t count on the world I did just a week ago. Instability and cancer go together like Forrest and Bubba. Cancer picks your life apart. Then, for kicks, it’d rather die while watching your demise. It’s like burning your house down and then not collecting the insurance money despite having gotten away with the perfect crime.
Work seems okay for now. But I’m now cautiously aware of what I am (an entrepreneur) and what I do (publish incredible talent and teach each one how to improve). Though I love my job, I’m not my job.
I’m a mom, a dying, tired one. But you show me a mom who isn’t about to drop, and I’ll show you BS! Being the woman who’s known them all their lives, that gives me more pleasure and purpose than anything else, job included.
In the future, I won’t get too close to the sun. Having watched Narcissus (AKA me-of-last-week) do that once and come out of it with only a cross-country move, I consider myself lucky. Lines might get blurred from time to time. But I have to take control of the situation and speak up when I think I’m doing too much for my own good.
They’re only people. Clients want value, more for their buck. It’s their right to want it. But we freelancers have the right to think for ourselves, to keep those lines nice and tidy. I’ll keep some chalk in my purse from now on, just in case.
Have you ever felt like you may have blurred the lines in a professional working relationship? Were you too chummy with a client? How’d it work out?