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Growth is a process

I’ve been full-time freelancing for three months now, and I thought I could puff myself up and share some of the wisdom I’ve gathered through this time. And by ‘wisdom’, of course, I mean ‘lint bits’. That’s just some of the clever language use you learn when you have several hours a day alone with your thoughts.

1. Latent hypochondria

I’ve never been a hypochondriac: I am more the type to say “I think it’s just a virus/paper cut/boil, it’ll go away on its own eventually” as she’s being hurried down the hallway on a hospital gurney, trailing internal organs. (This isn’t counting that one late-night-before-the-endocrinologist-appointment where I persuaded myself I had diabetes and spend a disproportionate amount of time not sleeping.) But give me a book to edit or proofread that deals with cancer or any other serious health issue and it turns out I will spend an afternoon being distressed and reading Wikipedia pages until my sight or my energy for terror gives out. Just when you’re (I’m) planning out how to contact your (my) beloveds to break the news of your (my) impeding demise, the next chapter is about something else and suddenly all is cured.

2. It is entirely possible to dance while sitting down.

Yup. I listen to a lot of music while working, and boogying on down while working is the best possible way to ensure maximum productivity and funtimes. Generally such dancing involves simply side-to-side arching (lateral flexion, don’tchaknow) which is a great way to keep tension out of your shoulders (probably). But you can work your way up to swivelling side-to-side while head-bobbing, or even a little bellydance-inspired rotation of shoulders and hips YEAH. Thrashing/moshing: not so much. Music recommendations: Groove, soul, trip-hop are all good for mellotimes, plenty of time for asymmetrical shoulder rolls and chin sweeping. But the best by far is psy/goa and hell yes a little ethnotronic. ‘Scuse me, I gotta rock out to Beats Antique right now. Pro tip: build up your stamina and energy because you will totally slip a disc if you rock out before you’re warmed up.

3. Yes I would like another cup of tea.

4. Devilled eggs are the total bees’ knees.

The cat’s goddamn pyjamas. The ants’ emmer-effing pants. Picture it: you need a protein-rich snack to ward off both hunger pangs and sugar crashes. What’s quick, easy, and best made hot and eaten while standing in the kitchen? Devilled eggs, my friend. Hard boil some eggs, then scoop the yolks out and moosh them with mayonnaise, mustard, and any of the spiciest things you can muster and moosh them back into the egg whites. Snarf ’em down enthusiastically. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have devilled eggs in a workplace, but it’s certainly improbable: there’d be fart jokes, and people wanting to tell you the Best Way Of Making Them (hint: it’s not how you just did it), and people saying stuff like “are you really going to eat two whole devilled eggs just for morning tea?”. No, nobody needs that.

5. Another cup of tea?

Why yes! Waiting for a file to save…waiting for an email with a big attachment to send…waiting for a preview to load…see all those ellipses? Each one is a cup of tea opportunity.

6. Mid-afternoon spontaneous exercise session.

Walks. Weights. Yoga. Skipping rope. Dance competition. Exercise bike. Regular bike. Dragging yourself around the tiles on a sheet of cardboard (seriously: great upper body workout). Anything. It’s awesome and nobody complains about me smelling sweaty (now that I write about it, it’s amazing how many would-be workplace conflicts I mention centre on my smells). I usually have a walk with M during or at the start of the day, and a couple of times per week I have an at-home lifting session, listening to podcasts and gettin’ stwong. If I don’t move around one way or another, then I’m usually mentally cactus by about 2pm and that’s all she wrote for the day. It kinda sucks. If I make a point of moving around for an hour or so, that tacks on another two or three hours of good thinkin’ times!

7. Being at home is generally lovely. It’s so handy having your closet right there, so when you have your late-afternoon anxiety attack about not making enough money and generally being a great big unemployed fraudulent wanker, you can just hop right in and not disturb anyone for the hour or so it takes to subside! Brill.

So I’m learning. My freelancing career so far has been about three parts cheerful liberty to  two parts crippling anxiety. Luckily, M went fulltime freelance about three years ago: whenever I bring a newly-discovered terror to him, he assures me its entirely normal and helps me put it outside. I’ve only just started, so I know a lot of my delight so far is simply novelty. It’s exciting and new, and even the anxiety is of a novel flavour.

The best part is working in a way that maximises my skills: the blocks of time I spend up to my neck in words, writing, editing, proofreading and indexing. I can build a working day around my own mental peaks and troughs, take breaks and think, and work at my own pace without interruption or distraction (we’re not counting Twitter). So far, so good. Let’s all have a devilled egg.

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