When did you last explain your reasons for #freelancing? Most freelance writers can cite their love of writing, their despair at having an employer and their need to assert themselves through the stories they tell. Many relate their dreams of writing a bestseller that leads to a movie, like Harry Potter. However, many of us do so because we have good vocabularies, good work ethics, and a medical condition or invisible disability. In other words, we are responding to an almost insurmountable force, and writing becomes treatment. Combining treatment with earning is nearly a stroke of genius, but have you tried explaining that to friendly skeptics?
The Discussion Begins
While talking with a friend, I shared my blogging woes. Since she’s not a blogger, I had to explain some of the terminology, and what it meant to move a blog from its free host to a paid host. After explaining the hoops I had to jump through, mainly because I had never moved a blog before, she asked, “why are you doing this when it sounds so confusing”? I had to reveal my hidden agenda, but I’ve only written a short summary, here.
Remember those moments when you stopped dead in your tracks to think? These are opportunities to reinforce your goals. They also let you clarify your intent. I think they work along the same paths involved in teaching. Where teaching a subject forces you to truly understand it, defending a choice reinforces your reasons for making it.
A Direct Approach
You see, I have Chronic Pain Syndrome. After injuring my neck, in 1986, the pain never left. In fact, it grew worse over the years. MRI’s revealed bone spurs growing into my spinal canal, raising the pressure on my spinal cord. A herniated disk presses on the nerves leaving my neck, adding another layer of pain and muscle spasms. I’ll wake up, because my head is bouncing off my pillow, from the muscle spasms. Even with some of the strongest pain medication available, I still have “stern” days where being around others and working according to an employer’s requirements is unbearable.
I might qualify for Permanent Disability Benefits. However, I’m not willing to submit to more examinations and tests to qualify for a disability rating. Even though I have #health insurance, thank you Obama, burning up the income I have by traveling to doctors, to confirm what my own doctor has already seen, makes little sense to me. I’d still have to cover gas or bus fare, and live with the physical aftermath of the testing. After all, this has been my constant companion for over 20 years.
It wasn’t until I was completely finished that I noticed how my situation had moved my friend. Her face had gone pale, held a slight grimace, and her eyes started tearing up.
You’ve probably had those moments too. While you handle difficult circumstances, whatever it may be, telling another person brings the gravity of your situation home. I started writing because I need to work at home. You may have decided that working at home was your best option. I’ve always wanted earn my living writing, and you may have had that same desire (Thank you, Internet. We can now do both.) Unfortunately, our glee ends as soon as an important friend or family member poo-poos our decision. Instead of a pale face, my friend’s reaction, you may see a blank stare. You might also hear, ” I don’t get why you can’t hold a job, like the rest of us”, “I don’t think you’re trying hard enough”, or “I think you’ve given up”. It seems that your audience wants you thoroughly demoralized and feeling indefensibly lazy. Instead of letting them have the last word, try:
- Graphic Details – Some people need a full picture painted for them. If you normally give a short, delicate explanation for your choice, try giving your challenge’s nauseating details.
- Politics – I don’t mean shmooze them into submission, but list what has happened to retirement plans and pensions over the last 20 years. After all, your audience may not have considered how they might extend their own earning lifespan if their employer decides their pension plan and extended health insurance are too expensive, then avoids paying promised retirement funds.
- The Invitation – Sometimes, a refusal to understand is the newborn child of envy. Try showing your skeptic how they can begin a similar freelancing venture. Depending on how long you’ve freelanced, and your budget, the skeptic may have skills you can use in your own freelancing efforts. Drawing them in may solve several problems within your relationships, so give it a try.
An understanding friend is the wonderful gift, when presented when our bodies push us into hard choices. Unfortunately, they are far and few between. Instead of suffering in silence, you can use the words you’d normally write to help your less sensitive, less understanding friends see that your choices are limited to what your body will allow. Keep writing, but remember to speak.
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