This reading made me want to die in the nicest way possible.
Today I spent most my day freelancing from home, designing and completing an entire website/e-commerce store. I’m not even a web designer. Yesterday I was writing job descriptions for a group of Monash University students, where I’ll be conducting all social media for Monash’s Open Day and acting as manager. The day before that, I was curating social media channels for three brands and feverishly editing images, creating copy for production notes and editing articles from handfuls of different writers. Two days ago, I was following up my own freelance writing work by chasing down fellow editors, asking politely if they had taken time to read my work that was submitted two weeks ago. And finally, a few days ago–the distant dream of Monday–I was reapplying for an internship I was essentially knocked back from on the first round, because, just quietly, I’m wanting a change.
And also, a full time job as soon as I graduate.
This week’s reading was a frank reminder to slow down. From the wise words of Roman Lobato and Julian Thomas, I need to learn the timeless debate between formal and informal work of being a creative in the burning media industries. I hold no shame in my own work ethic when I say I struggle to switch off and overwork myself without a break. But if it’s one thing freelance work pushes you to do, it’s to appreciate the structure of formal labour work, compared to the ditzy “can-you-do-this” and “for-how-many-hours-will-this-cost” conversation that seems to often green light itself with flexibility and freedom. As the reading explains, much of the creative work we’ll be offered will be informal, but the difference lies in who choose and who are forced to work informally. For me, I’m a Yes person in the workplace. I’ll say Yes to almost anything. And it’s totally, utterly something I’ve been wanting to change for a long time. But of course, I’m nervous.
Career-wise, right now, I work for what Lobato and Thomas call a small to medium sized business: I thrive on personal networks, recognise the limited resources my team have at their disposal (see: time), and how we rely on each other to bounce new ideas for clients. Everyone in my workplace right now blurs the lines between work, art and ambition–often finding themselves in situations that are thick with pleasure, dissatisfaction and self-exploitation. Learning to say No is the biggest takeaway I took from this reading, a commandment I keep encouraging myself to indulge in, but it seriously matters. No job is worth burning out for. No job you are not passionate about is worth unpaid hours. (A career though, now that’s a whole different story and we should probably boil some tea.) But then, just as in the reading, the flip side to this attitude is the fear of being dismissed amongst the adapting job market and fast-fashion of content contributors, consumers and retailers. It’s hard finding a balance for a Yes person, and after all, if I had a dollar for every question that crossed my mind, I’d still probably only have 78 cents.